Truth or Die
Author:James Patterson
    ABOUT THE BOOK


    The truth will set you free – if it doesn’t kill you first.

    New York attorney Trevor Mann’s world shatters when he receives a phone call telling him his girlfriend has been shot dead in a mugging. But the circumstances point to something more calculated than a random attack.

    Claire was a New York Times journalist and Trevor is convinced she had unearthed a secret so shocking that she was murdered to keep it from coming to light. Chasing Claire’s leads, Trevor will risk everything to discover what exactly she was killed for.

    It’s time to find out the truth, or die.



    ONE


    AT PRECISELY 5:15 every morning, seven days a week, Dr. Stephen Hellerman emerged from his modest brick colonial in the bucolic town of Silver Spring, Maryland, and jogged six miles. Six-point-two miles, to be exact.

    Depending on whether it was Daylight Saving Time or not, it was either still dark or just dawn as he first stretched his calves against the tall oak shading most of his front yard, but no matter what the season, Dr. Hellerman, an acclaimed neurologist at Mercy Hospital in nearby Langley, rarely saw another human being from start to finish of his run.

    That was exactly how he wanted it.

    Although he’d never been married, dated sparingly, and socialized with friends even less, it wasn’t that the forty-eight-year-old doctor didn’t like people; he simply liked being alone better. Being alone meant never being tempted to tell someone your secrets. And Dr. Stephen Hellerman had a lot of secrets.

    A brand-new one, in particular. A real dandy.

    Taking his customary left turn out of his driveway, heading north on Knoll Street, Hellerman then hung a right onto Bishop Lane, which curved a bit before feeding into the straight shoot of Route 9 that hugged the town’s reservoir. From there it was nothing but water on his left, dense trees on his right, and the weathered gray asphalt beneath his Nike Flyknit Racers.

    Hellerman liked the sound the shoes made as he ran, the consistent thomp-thomp-thomp-thomp that measured off his strides like a metronome. More than that, he liked the fact that he could focus on that sound to the exclusion of everything else. That was the real beauty of his daily run, the way it always seemed to clear his mind like a giant squeegee.

    But there was something different about this particular morning, and Hellerman realized it even before the first beads of sweat began to dot the edge of his thick hairline.

    The thomp-thomp-thomp-thomp wasn’t working.

    This new secret of his—less than twelve hours old—was unlike all the others encrypted inside his head, never to be revealed. The facts that Hellerman moonlighted for the CIA, was paid through an offshore numbered account, and engaged in research that no medical board would ever approve were secrets of his own choosing. Decisions he’d made. Deals he’d cut with his own conscience in a Machiavellian trade-off so big that it would garner its own wing in the Rationalization Hall of Fame.

    But this new secret? This one was different. It didn’t belong to him.

    It wasn’t his to keep.

    And try as he did, there simply wasn’t enough thomp-thomp-thomp-thomp in the world to let him push that thought out of his head, even if only for an hour.

    Still, Hellerman kept running that morning, just like every morning before it. That was what he did. That was the routine. The habit. Six-point-two miles, every day of the week. The same stretch of roads every time.

    Suddenly, though, Hellerman stopped.

    If he hadn’t, he would’ve run straight into it.





    TWO


    A WHITE van was parked along the side of Route 9 with its hood open, the driver hunched over the engine, which was hissing steam. He had his back turned to Hellerman. He hadn’t heard him approaching.

    “Dammit!” the guy yelled, pulling back his hand in pain. Whatever he’d touched on the engine was way too hot. As if the steam weren’t a giveaway.

    “You okay?” asked Hellerman.

    The guy turned with a look of surprise to see he wasn’t alone. “Oh, hey,” he said. “Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. Wish I could say the same for this piece of shit van, though.”

    “Overheated, huh?”

    “I think the coolant line has a leak. This water should at least get me through my route,” the guy said, pointing to a bottle of Poland Spring perched on top of the grille. He smiled. “Unless, of course, you’re a mechanic.”

    “No, just a humble doctor,” said Hellerman.

    “Oh, yeah? What kind?”

    “Neurologist.”

    “A brain doctor, huh? I’ve never met one of those before.” The guy poured some water on the radiator cap to cool it down before giving it a second go. “My name’s Eddie,” he said.

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