The Blue Zone CD: The Blue Zone CD

Overview

From the number one New York Times bestselling coauthor of Judge & Jury and Lifeguard comes this electrifying solo debut, The Blue Zone.

Kate Raab's life seems almost perfect: her boyfriend, her job, her family . . . until her father runs into trouble with the law. His only recourse is to testify against his former accomplices in exchange for his family's placement in the Witness Protection Program. But one of them gets cold feet. In a ...

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Overview

From the number one New York Times bestselling coauthor of Judge & Jury and Lifeguard comes this electrifying solo debut, The Blue Zone.

Kate Raab's life seems almost perfect: her boyfriend, her job, her family . . . until her father runs into trouble with the law. His only recourse is to testify against his former accomplices in exchange for his family's placement in the Witness Protection Program. But one of them gets cold feet. In a flash, everything Kate can count on is gone.

Now, a year later, her worst fears have happened: Her father has disappeared—into what the WITSEC agency calls "the blue zone"—and someone close to him is found brutally murdered. With her family under surveillance, the FBI untrustworthy, and her father's menacing "friends" circling with increasing intensity, Kate sets off to find her father—and uncover the secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The long-awaited solo debut novel by Andrew Gross, who has coauthored numerous bestsellers with James Patterson (Judge & Jury, Lifeguard, The Jester, et al.), revolves around a young woman named Kate Raab. Kate appears to have it all -- a great job, a loving boyfriend, a well-to-do and close-knit family -- until her father gets arrested by the FBI for money laundering, aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. With members of a highly irate Columbian drug cartel determined to kill Kate's father before he can testify against them, he is forced to turn state's evidence for an opportunity to put himself and his family in the Witness Protection Program.

But Kate, who is just beginning a promising medical researching career in New York City, decides to forego the Witness Protection Program and continue on with her life without her family. She marries her boyfriend, and for a little over a year, her life is close to idyllic. Then a coworker who resembles her is shot in the head, and she is informed that her father is inexplicably missing. But when Kate begins to investigate her father's mysterious disappearance, she uncovers information about his shady past that will turn her world upside down… Fans of previous blockbuster collaborations between Gross and Patterson will definitely not be disappointed with The Blue Zone; breakneck paced and replete with jaw-dropping plot twists, this page-turning thriller will keep readers up way past their bedtime. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly

Having coauthored five bestsellers with James Patterson (Lifeguard, etc.), Gross makes a solo debut superior to his collaborative efforts, if short of the first thriller rank. His engaging heroine, Kate Raab, a medical researcher in the Bronx, is shocked when the Feds arrest her beloved gold trader father, Benjamin, and charge him with laundering money for a Colombian drug cartel. A hit team's attempt to kill the entire Raab family prompts all of them, except Kate, to start their lives anew in the witness protection program. Kate's choice, predictably, places her in continuing danger, even as she begins to suspect that her father's involvement with the narco traffickers was more deliberate and extensive than he's willing to admit. The secret revelations at the heart of the plot may strike some as a little far-fetched, and the details about the witness protection program fail to convince, but Gross shows sufficient talent for readers to want to see more from his pen alone. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

After coauthoring five thrillers with James Patterson (most recently, Judge & Jury), Gross makes his solo fiction debut with a case involving the Witness Protection Program. When the head of the Mercado drug cartel dies in Colombia, a long-simmering family feud reaches the boiling point in the United States. New York family man Benjamin Raab, a trader in gold, is arrested by the FBI and accused of being a middleman for the cartel. After he agrees to testify against a friend, he and his family—with the exception of his oldest daughter, Kate—are relocated by the government. When Benjamin suddenly flees the safety of the program and is blamed for the murder of his government contact, Kate wants to know who set him up and why. Was everything she knew about her father a lie? As her search for answers intensifies, she finds herself caught in a web of deception and betrayal, with her own life on the line. Gross offers much that will please: an intriguing premise, shocking twists, a gripping plot, and a sympathetic female lead who faces heartrending dilemmas as she grapples with the truth. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/07.]
—Ron Terpening

Kirkus Reviews
Digging too deep for family skeletons proves perilous for a young woman searching for her disappeared father. Gross's solo debut (he's previously collaborated with James Patterson; 2nd Chance, 2004, etc.) has a beguiling setup rooted in the clandestine mechanics of the Witness Protection Program, but its implausible plot will put off more skeptical readers. The book's likable hero is Kate Raab, a cancer researcher launching a promising career. While she also has a model boyfriend, a seemingly perfect doctor, her most discernible asset is a picture-perfect family comprised of her anxious Jewish mother, a pair of precocious siblings and a princely father who calls her "Pumpkin." It all comes crashing down when her father Benjamin, a wealthy Manhattan gold trader, is arrested for laundering money for a Colombia drug cartel led by Oscar Mercado. Benjamin cooperates with the case, and the family is secreted away under assumed identities, leaving Kate behind. Things go further awry when a colleague of Kate's is felled during an inexplicable drive-by shooting and the Rabb family's case worker is tortured to death. The slim leads in the case point towards Benjamin, who disappears into the titular Blue Zone, the FBI moniker indicating a blown cover. Soon, Kate is stalked by a menacing Colombia fixer and uncovers troubling duplicity on the part of her FBI handlers. With the body count rising, Kate hunts for her missing father, inadvertently unspooling a series of preposterous family revelations linking her loved ones to the Mercado clan. A sensationalistic thriller whose credibility is, by the end, strained to the snapping point.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061256585
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/17/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 8 CDs, 9 hrs.
  • Pages: 8
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 7.56 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross is the author of the New York Times and international bestsellers 15 Seconds, Eyes Wide Open, The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, Don't Look Twice, and Reckless. He is also the coauthor of five number one bestsellers with James Patterson, including Judge & Jury and Lifeguard. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his wife, Lynn.

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Read an Excerpt

Blue Zone, The

Chapter One

Gold was up 2 percent the morning Benjamin Raab's life began to fall apart.

He was leaning back at his desk, looking down on Forty-seventh Street, in the lavish comfort of his office high above the Avenue of the Americas, the phone crooked in his neck.

"I'm waiting, Raj. . . ."

Raab had a spot gold contract he was holding for two thousand pounds. Over a million dollars. The Indians were his biggest customers, one of the largest exporters of jewelry in the world. Two percent. Raab checked the Quotron screen. That was thirty thousand dollars. Before lunch.

"Raj, c'mon," Raab prodded. "My daughter's getting married this afternoon. I'd like to make it if I can. . . ."

"Katie's getting married?" The Indian seemed to be hurt. "Ben, you never said..."

"It's just an expression, Raj. If Kate was getting married, you'd be there. But, Raj, c'mon . . . we're talking gold here...not pastrami. It doesn't go bad."

This was what Raab did. He moved gold. He'd owned his own trading company near New York's diamond district for twenty years. Years ago he had started out buying inventory from the mom-and-pop jewelers who were going out of business. Now he supplied gold to half the dealers on the Street. As well as to some of the largest exporters of jewelry across the globe.

Everyone in the trade knew him. He could hardly grab a turkey club at the Gotham Deli down the street without one of the pushy, heavyset Hasids squeezing next to him in the booth with the news of some dazzling new stone they were peddling. (Though they always chided that as a Sephardi he wasn't even one of their own.) Or one of the young Puerto Rican runners who delivered the contracts, thanking him for the flowers he'd sent to their wedding. Or the Chinese, looking to hedge some dollars against a currency play. Or the Australians, tantalizing him with uncut blocks of industrial-quality stones.

I've been lucky, Raab always said. He had a wife who adored him, three beautiful children who made him proud. His house in Larchmont (a whole lot more than just a house) that overlooked the Long Island Sound, and the Ferrari 585, which Raab once raced at Lime Rock and had its own special place in the five-car garage. Not to mention the box at Yankee Stadium and the Knicks tickets, on the floor of the Garden, just behind the bench.

Betsy, his assistant for over twenty years, stepped in carrying a chef's salad on a plate along with a cloth napkin, Raab's best defense against his proclivity for leaving grease stains on his Hermès ties. She rolled her eyes. "Raji, still . . . ?"

Benjamin shrugged, drawing her eye to his notepad where he had already written down the outcome: $648.50. He knew that his buyer was going to take it. Raj always did. They'd been doing this little dance for years. But did he always have to play out the drama so long?

"Okay, my friend." The Indian buyer sighed at last in surrender. "We consider it a deal."

"Whew, Raj." Raab exhaled in mock relief. "The Financial Times is outside waiting on the exclusive."

The Indian laughed, too, and they closed out the deal: $648.50, just as he'd written down.

Betsy smiled..."He says that every time, doesn't he?"...trading the handwritten contract for two glossy travel brochures that she placed next to his plate.

Raab tucked the napkin into the collar of his Thomas Pink striped shirt. "Fifteen years."

All one had to do was step into Raab's crowded office and it was impossible not to notice the walls and credenzas crammed with pictures of Sharon, his wife, and his children...Kate, the oldest, who had graduated from Brown; Emily, who was sixteen, and nationally ranked at squash; and Justin, two years younger...and all the fabulous family trips they'd taken over the years.

The villa in Tuscany. Kenya on safari. Skiing at Courchevel in the French Alps. Ben in his driver's suit with Richard Petty at the Porsche rally school.

And that's what he was doing over lunch, mapping out their next big trip...the best one yet. Machu Picchu. The Andes. Then on a fantastic walking tour of Patagonia. Their twenty-fifth anniversary was coming up. Patagonia had always been one of Sharon's dreams.

"My next life"...Betsy grinned as she shut the office door..."I'm making sure I come back as one of your kids."

"Next life," Raab called after her, "I am, too."

Suddenly a loud crash came from the outer office. At first Raab thought it was an explosion or a break-in. He thought about triggering the alarm. Sharp, unfamiliar voices were barking commands.

Betsy rushed back in, a look of panic on her face. A step behind, two men in suits and navy windbreakers pushed through the door.

"Benjamin Raab?"

"Yes . . ." He stood up and faced the tall, balding man who had addressed him, who seemed to be in charge. "You can't just barge in here like this. What the hell's going on . . . ?"

"What's going on, Mr. Raab"...the man tossed a folded document onto the desk..."is that we have a warrant from a federal judge for your arrest."

"Arrest . . . ?" Suddenly people in FBI jackets were everywhere. His staff was being rounded up and told to vacate. "What the hell for?"

"For money laundering, aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government," the agent read off. "How's that, Mr. Raab? The contents of this office are being impounded as material evidence in this case."

"What?"

Before he could utter another word, the second agent, a young Hispanic, spun Raab around, forcing his arms roughly behind him, and slapped a set of handcuffs on his wrists, his whole office looking on.

"This is crazy!" Raab twisted, trying to look the agent in the face.

"Sure it is," the Hispanic agent chortled. He lifted the travel brochures out of Raab's hands. "Too bad." He winked, tossing them back onto the desk. "Seemed like one helluva trip."

Blue Zone, The. Copyright © by Andrew Gross. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

The Blue Zone
A Novel

Prologue

It took just minutes for Dr. Emil Varga to reach the old man's room. He had been in a deep sleep, dreaming of a woman from his days at the university a lifetime ago, but at the sound of the servant's frantic knocking he quickly threw his wool jacket over his nightshirt and grabbed his bag.

"Please, Doctor," she said, running upstairs ahead of him, "come quick!"

Varga knew the way. He had been staying in the hacienda for weeks. In fact, the stubborn, unyielding man who had held off death for so long was his only patient these days. Sometimes Varga mused over a brandy at night that his loyal service had hastened his departure from a lengthy and distinguished career.

Was it finally over . . . ?

The doctor paused at the bedroom door. The room was dark, fetid; the arched, shuttered windows held back the onset of dawn. The smell told him all he needed to know. That and the old man's chest—silent for the first time in weeks. His mouth was open, his head tilted slightly on the pillow. A trickle of yellow drool clotted on his lips.

Slowly Varga stepped up to the large mahogany bed and put his bag on the table. No need for instruments now. In life his patient had been a bull of a man. Varga thought of all the violence he had caused. But now the sharp Indian cheekbones were shrunken and pale. There was something about it that the doctor thought fitting. How could someone who had caused such fear and misery in his life look so frail and withered now?

Varga heard voices from down the hall, shattering the calm of the dawn. Bobi, the old man's youngest son, ran into theroom, still in his bedclothes. He stopped immediately and fixed on the lifeless shape, his eyes wide.

"Is he dead?"

The doctor nodded. "He finally gave up his grip on life. For eighty years he had it by the balls."

Bobi's wife, Marguerite, who was carrying the old man's third grandchild, began to weep in the doorway. The son crept cautiously over to the bed, as if advancing on a slumbering mountain lion that at any moment might spring up in attack. He knelt down and brushed the old man's face, his tightened, withered cheeks. Then he took his father's hand, which even now was rough and coarse as a laborer's hand, and gently kissed it on the knuckles.

"Todas apuestas se terminaron, Papa," he whispered, gazing into the old man's deadened eyes.

All bets are off, Father.

Then Bobi rose and nodded. "Thank you, Doctor, for all you've done. I'll make sure word gets to my brothers."

Varga tried to read what was in the son's eyes. Grief. Disbelief. His father's illness had gone on so long, and now the day had finally come.

No, it was more of a question that was written there: For years the old man had held everything together, through the force of his own will.

What would happen now?

Bobi led his wife by the arm and left the room. Varga stepped over to the window. He opened the shutters, letting in the morning light. The dawn had washed over the valley.

The old man owned it all for miles, far past the gates, the grazing lands, the glistening cordillera, three thousand meters high. Two black American SUVs were parked next to the stables. A couple of bodyguards, armed with machine pistols, were lounging on a fence, sipping their coffee, unaware.

"Yes," Varga muttered, "get word to your brothers." He turned back to the old man. See, you bastard, even in death you are a dangerous man.

The floodgates were open. The waters would be fierce. Blood never washes away blood.

Except here.

There was a painting over the bed of the Madonna and child in a hand-carved frame that Varga knew had been a gift from a church in Buenaventura, where the old man was born. The doctor wasn't a religious man, but he crossed himself anyway, lifting up the damp bedsheet and placing it gently over the dead man's face.

"I hope you are finally at peace, old man, wherever you are. . . . Because all hell is going to break loose here."

I don't know if it's a dream or if it's real.

I step off the Second Avenue bus. It's only a couple of blocks to where I live. I know immediately something is wrong.

Maybe it's the guy I see stepping away from the storefront, tossing his cigarette onto the sidewalk, following a short distance behind. Maybe it's the steady clacking of his footsteps on the pavement behind me as I cross over to Twelfth Street.

Normally I wouldn't turn. I wouldn't think twice. It's the East Village. It's crowded. People are everywhere. It's just a sound of the city. Happens all the time.

But this time I do turn. I have to. Just enough to glimpse the Hispanic man with his hands in his black leather jacket.

Jesus, Kate, try being a little paranoid, girl. . . .

Except this time I'm not being paranoid. This time the guy keeps following me.

I turn on Twelfth. It's darker there, less traffic. A few people are talking out on their stoop. A young couple making out in the shadows. The guy's still on me. I still hear his footsteps close behind.

Pick up your pace, I tell myself. You live only a few blocks away.

I tell myself that this can't be happening. If you're going to wake up, Kate, now's the time! But I don't wake up. This time it's real. This time I'm holding a secret important enough to get myself killed.

I cross the street, quickening my pace. My heart's starting to race. His footsteps are knifing through me now. I catch a glimpse of him in the reflection of a store window. The dark mustache and short, wiry hair.

My heart's slamming back and forth off my ribs now.

There's a market where I sometimes buy groceries. I run in. There are people there. For a second I feel safe. I take a basket, hide between the aisles, throw in things I pretend I need. But all the while I'm just waiting. Praying he's passing by.

I pay. I smile a little nervously at Ingrid, the checkout girl, who knows me. I have this eerie premonition. What if she's the last person to see me alive?

Back outside, I feel relief for a second. The guy must be gone. No sign. But then I freeze. He's still there. Leaning aimlessly against a parked car on the other side of the street, talking into a phone. His eyes slowly drift to mine. . . .

Shit, Kate, what the hell do you do now?

Now I run. An indistinguishable pace at first, then faster. I hear the frantic rhythm of quickening footsteps on the pavement—but this time they're mine.

I grope in my bag for my phone. Maybe I should call Greg. I want to tell him I love him. But I know the time—it's the middle of his shift. All I'd get is his voice mail. He's on rounds.

Maybe I should call 911 or stop and scream. Kate, do something—now!

My building's just a half a block away. I can see it now. The green canopy. 445 East Seventh. I fumble for my keys. My hands are shaking. Please, just a few yards more . . .

The last few feet I take at a full-out run. I jam my key into the outer lock, praying it turns—and it does! I hurl open the heavy glass doors. I take one last glance behind. The man who was following me has pulled up a few doorways down. I hear the door to the building close behind me, the lock mercifully engaging.

I'm safe now. I feel my chest virtually implode with relief. It's over now, Kate. Thank God.

For the first time, I feel my sweater clinging to me, drenched in a clammy sweat. This has got to end. You've got to go to someone, Kate. I'm so relieved I actually start to cry.

But go to whom?

The police? They've been lying to me from the beginning. My closest friend? She's fighting for her life in Bellevue Hospital. That's surely no dream.

My family? Your family is gone, Kate. Forever.

It was too late for any of that now.

I step into the elevator and press the button for my floor. Seven. It's one of those heavy industrial types, clattering like a train as it passes every floor. All I want is just to get into my apartment and shut the door.

On seven the elevator rattles to a stop. It's over now. I'm safe. I fling open the metal grating, grasp my keys, push open the heavy outer door.

There are two men standing in my way.

I try to scream, but for what? No one will hear me. I step back. My blood goes cold. All I can do is look silently into their eyes.

I know they're here to kill me.

What I don't know is if they're from my father, the Colombians, or the FBI.

The Blue Zone
A Novel
. Copyright © by Andrew Gross. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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