The Post Card Killers


James Patterson & Liza Marklund



Paris, France

    “IT’S VERY SMALL,” THE ENGLISHWOMAN said, sounding


    Mac Rudolph laughed, put his arm around the woman’s slender neck, and allowed his hand to fall onto her breast. She wasn’t wearing a bra.

    “Oil on a wooden panel,” he said. “Thirty inches by twenty-one, or seventy-seven centimeters by fifty- three. It was meant to hang in the dining room in the home of the Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. But da Vinci never got it finished.”

    He felt her nipple stiffen under the fabric of the blouse. She didn’t move his hand away.

    Sylvia Rudolph slid up on the other side of her, her hand easing its way under the woman’s arm.

    “Mona Lisa wasn’t her name,” Sylvia said. “Just Lisa. Mona is an Italian diminutive that can be taken to mean ‘lady’ or ‘her grace.’”

    The woman’s husband was standing behind Sylvia, his body pushed up against hers in the crowd. Very cozy.

    “Anyone thirsty?” he asked.

    Sylvia and Mac exchanged a quick glance and a grin.

    They were on the first floor of the Denon wing of the Louvre, in the Salle des Йtats. Hanging on the wall in front of them, behind nonreflective glass, was the most famous portrait in the world, and the guy was thinking about beer?

    “You’re right,” Mac said, his hand gently gliding down the Englishwoman’s back. “It is small. Francesco del Giocondo’s dining room table can’t have been very large.”

    He smiled over at the woman’s husband.

    “And you’re right, too. It’s time to drink some wine!”

    They found their way out of the museum, down the modern staircase toward the Porte des Lions, and stepped out into the middle of a Parisian spring evening.

    Sylvia inhaled deeply, breathing in the intoxicating mix of exhaust fumes, river water, and freshly opened leaves, and laughed out loud.

    “Oh,” she said, hugging the Englishwoman, “I’m so glad we met you. Honeymoons are all very well and good, but you have to see a bit of the world, too, don’t you? Have you had time to see Notre-Dame yet?”

    “We only got here this morning,” her husband said. “We’ve hardly had time to eat.”

    “Well, we must do something about that at once,” Mac said. “We know a little place down by the Seine. It’s wonderful, you’ll love it.”

    “Notre-Dame is fantastic,” Sylvia said. “One of the first Gothic cathedrals in the world, strongly influenced by naturalism. You’re going to love the South Rose Window.”

    She kissed the woman on the cheek, lingering for a second. They crossed the river on the Pont d’Arcole, passed the cathedral, and arrived at the Quai de Montebello just as someone started playing a melancholy tune on an accordion.

    “Order whatever you like,” Mac said, holding the door of the bistro open.

    “It’s on us. We’re celebrating your honeymoon.”


    THEY GOT A COZY TABLE for four overlooking the river. The sunset was painting the buildings around them bloodred. A bateau-mouche glided past, and the accordionist switched to a more cheerful tune. The tetchy Brit thawed out after a couple of bottles of wine. Sylvia felt his eyes on her and undid another button of her thin blouse. She noted that the Englishwoman was stealing glances at Mac, at his fair hair, honey-colored skin, girlish eyelashes, and well-built biceps.

    “What a magical day this has been,” Sylvia said when Mac had paid the bill and she was pulling on her backpack. “I have to have a souvenir of this evening.”

    Mac sighed theatrically and put a hand to his forehead. She sidled up to him and cooed, “I think Dior on Montaigne is still open.”

    “This is going to be expensive,” Mac groaned.

    The British pair laughed out loud.

    They took a taxi to Avenue Montaigne. Mac and Sylvia didn’t buy anything, but the Brit pulled out his credit card and bought a hideous silk shawl for his new wife. Mac settled for a couple of bottles of Moлt Chandon from a nearby wineshop.

    Out in the street again he took out a joint, lit it, and passed it to the Englishwoman.

    Sylvia put her arms around the Englishman’s waist and looked him deep in the eyes.

    “I want,” she said, “to drink these bottles together with you. In your room.”

    The Brit gulped audibly and looked at his wife.

    “She can play with Mac at the same time,” Sylvia whispered, and kissed him on the lips. “It’s perfectly all right with me.”

    They hailed another taxi.


    THE CENTRAL HOTEL PARIS WAS a clean, simple spot in Montparnasse. They took the lift to the third floor and tumbled, giggling and slightly stoned, into the room, which looked out on the Rue du Maine.

    The walls were sunshine yellow. In the middle of the thick sky blue carpet was an enormous double bed.

    “I’ll get this bubbly stuff opened at once,” Mac said, taking one of the bottles of champagne into the bathroom. “No one go anywhere.”

    Sylvia kissed the Englishman again, more seriously this time, using her tongue. She noticed his breathing get quicker. He probably had a full erection already.

    “I expect you’re a big boy, aren’t you?” she said in a seductive voice, her hand moving along his leg, up toward his crotch.

    She could see the Englishwoman was blushing, but she said nothing to stop this from proceeding.

    “Bottoms up!” Mac said, coming back into the room with four improvised champagne glasses on the tray that had held the toothbrush glasses.

    “Here we go!” Sylvia cried, swiftly taking one of the glasses and knocking it back.

    The British pair were quick to follow her example. Mac laughed and went around refilling the glasses.

    Then he lit another joint, which was perfectly rolled.

    “How long have you been married?” Sylvia asked, inhaling and passing the marijuana cigarette.

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