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The Apprentice

Already the flies were swarming. Four hours on the hot pavement
of South Boston had baked the pulverized flesh, releasing the
chemical equivalent of a dinner bell, and the air was alive with
buzzing flies. Though what remained of the torso was now covered
with a sheet, there was still much exposed tissue for scavengers to
feast on. Bits of gray matter and other unidentifiable parts were
dispersed in a radius of thirty feet along the street. A skull
fragment had landed in a second-story flower box, and clumps of
tissue adhered to parked cars.

Detective Jane Rizzoli had always possessed a strong stomach, but
even she had to pause, eyes closed, fists clenched, angry at
herself for this moment of weakness. Don't lose it. Don't lose
. She was the only female detective in the Boston P.D.
homicide unit, and she knew that the pitiless spotlight was always
trained on her. Every mistake, every triumph, would be noted by
all. Her partner, Barry Frost, had already tossed up his breakfast
in humiliatingly public view, and he was now sitting with his head
on his knees in their air-conditioned vehicle, waiting for his
stomach to settle. She could not afford to fall victim to nausea.
She was the most visible law enforcement officer on the scene, and
from the other side of the police tape the public stood watching,
registering every move she made, every detail of her appearance.
She knew she looked younger than her age of thirty-four, and she
was self-conscious about maintaining an air of authority. What she
lacked in height she compensated for with her direct gaze, her
squared shoulders. She had learned the art of dominating a scene,
if only through sheer intensity.

But this heat was sapping her resolve. She had started off dressed
in her usual blazer and slacks and with her hair neatly combed. Now
the blazer was off, her blouse was wrinkled, and the humidity had
frizzed her dark hair into unruly coils. She felt assaulted on all
fronts by the smells, the flies, and the piercing sunlight. There
was too much to focus on all at once. And all those eyes were
watching her.

Loud voices drew her attention. A man in a dress shirt and tie was
trying to argue his way past a patrolman.

"Look, I gotta get to a sales conference, okay? I'm an hour late as
it is. But you've got your goddamn police tape wrapped around my
car, and now you're saying I can't drive it? It's my own friggin'

"It's a crime scene, sir."

"It's an accident!"

"We haven't determined that yet."

"Does it take you guys all day to figure it out? Why don't you
listen to us? The whole neighborhood heard it happen!"

Rizzoli approached the man, whose face was glazed with sweat. It
was eleven-thirty and the sun, near its zenith, shone down like a
glaring eye.

"What, exactly, did you hear, sir?" she asked.

He snorted. "Same thing everyone else did."

"A loud bang."

"Yeah. Around seven-thirty. I was just getting outta the shower.
Looked out my window, and there he was, lying on the sidewalk. You
can see it's a bad corner. Asshole drivers come flying around it
like bats outta hell. Must've been a truck hit him."

"Did you see a truck?"


"Hear a truck?"


"And you didn't see a car, either?"

"Car, truck." He shrugged. "It's still a hit-and-run."

It was the same story, repeated half a dozen times by the man's
neighbors. Sometime between seven-fifteen and seven-thirty A.M.,
there'd been a loud bang in the street. No one actually saw the
event. They had simply heard the noise and found the man's body.
Rizzoli had already considered, and rejected, the possibility that
he was a jumper. This was a neighborhood of two-story buildings,
nothing tall enough to explain such catastrophic damage to a
jumper's body. Nor did she see any evidence of an explosion as the
cause of this much anatomical disintegration.

"Hey, can I get my car out now?" the man said. "It's that green

"That one with the brains splattered on the trunk?"


"What do you think?" she snapped, and walked away to join the
medical examiner, who was crouched in the middle of the road,
studying the asphalt. "People on this street are jerks," said
Rizzoli. "No one gives a damn about the victim. No one knows who he
is, either."

Dr. Ashford Tierney didn't look up at her but just kept staring at
the road. Beneath sparse strands of silver hair, his scalp
glistened with sweat. Dr. Tierney seemed older and more weary than
she had ever seen him. Now, as he tried to rise, he reached out in
a silent request for assistance. She took his hand and she could
feel, transmitted through that hand, the creak of tired bones and
arthritic joints. He was an old southern gentleman, a native of
Georgia, and he'd never warmed to Rizzoli's Boston bluntness, just
as she had never warmed to his formality. The only thing they had
in common was the human remains that passed across Dr. Tierney's
autopsy table. But as she helped him to his feet, she was saddened
by his frailty and reminded of her own grandfather, whose favorite
grandchild she had been, perhaps because he'd recognized himself in
her pride, her tenaciousness. She remembered helping him out of his
easy chair, how his stroke-numbed hand had rested like a claw on
her arm. Even men as fierce as Aldo Rizzoli are ground down by time
to brittle bones and joints. She could see its effect in Dr.
Tierney, who wobbled in the heat as he took out his handkerchief
and dabbed the sweat from his forehead.

"This is one doozy of a case to close out my career," he said. "So
tell me, are you coming to my retirement party, Detective?" "Uh . .
. what party?" said Rizzoli.

"The one you all are planning to surprise me with."

She sighed. Admitted, "Yeah, I'm coming."

"Ha. I always could get a straight answer from you. Is it next

"Two weeks. And I didn't tell you, okay?"

"I'm glad you did." He looked down at the asphalt. "I don't much
like surprises."

"So what do we have here, Doc? Hit-and-run?"

"This seems to be the point of impact."

Rizzoli looked down at the large splash of blood. Then she looked
at the sheet-draped corpse, which was lying a good twelve feet
away, on the sidewalk.

"You're saying he first hit the ground here, and then bounced way
over there?" said Rizzoli.

"It would appear so."

"That's got to be a pretty big truck to cause this much

"Not a truck," was Tierney's enigmatic answer. He started walking
along the road, eyes focused downward.

Rizzoli followed him, batting at swarms of flies. Tierney came to a
stop about thirty feet away and pointed to a grayish clump on the

"More brain matter," he noted.

"A truck didn't do this?" said Rizzoli.

"No. Or a car, either."

"What about the tire marks on the vic's shirt?"

Tierney straightened, his eyes scanning the street, the sidewalks,
the buildings. "Do you notice something quite interesting about
this scene, Detective?"

"Apart from the fact there's a dead guy over there who's missing
his brain?"

"Look at the point of impact." Tierney gestured toward the spot in
the road where he'd been crouching earlier. "See the dispersal
pattern of body parts?"

"Yeah. He splattered in all directions. Point of impact is at the


"It's a busy street," said Rizzoli. "Vehicles do come around that
corner too fast. Plus, the vic has tire marks on his shirt."

"Let's go look at those marks again."

As they walked back to the corpse, they were joined by Barry Frost,
who had finally emerged from the car, looking wan and a little

"Man, oh man," he groaned.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"You think maybe I picked up the stomach flu or something?"

"Or something." She'd always liked Frost, had always appreciated
his sunny and uncomplaining nature, and she hated to see his pride
laid so low. She gave him a pat on the shoulder, a motherly smile.
Frost seemed to invite mothering, even from the decidedly
unmaternal Rizzoli. "I'll just pack you a barf bag next time," she

"You know," he said, trailing after her, "I really do think it's
just the flu. . . ."

They reached the torso. Tierney grunted as he squatted down, his
joints protesting the latest insult, and lifted the disposable
sheet. Frost blanched and retreated a step. Rizzoli fought the
impulse to do the same.

The torso had broken into two parts, separated at the level of the
umbilicus. The top half, wearing a beige cotton shirt, stretched
east to west. The bottom half, wearing blue jeans, lay north to
south. The halves were connected by only a few strands of skin and
muscle. The internal organs had spilled out and lay in a pulpified
mass. The back half of the skull had shattered open, and the brain
had been ejected.

"Young male, well nourished, appears to be of Hispanic or
Mediterranean origin, in his twenties to thirties," said Tierney.
"I see obvious fractures of the thoracic spine, ribs, clavicles,
and skull."

"Couldn't a truck do this?" Rizzoli asked.

"It's certainly possible a truck could have caused massive injuries
like these." He looked at Rizzoli, his pale-blue eyes challenging
hers. "But no one heard or saw such a vehicle. Did they?"

"Unfortunately, no," she admitted.

Frost finally managed a comment. "You know, I don't think those are
tire tracks on his shirt."

Rizzoli focused on the black streaks across the front of the
victim's shirt. With a gloved hand, she touched one of the smears,
and looked at her finger. A smudge of black had transferred to her
latex glove. She stared at it for a moment, processing this new

"You're right," she said. "It's not a tire track. It's grease." She
straightened and looked at the road. She saw no bloody tire marks,
no auto debris. No pieces of glass or plastic that would have
shattered on impact with a human body.

For a moment, no one spoke. They just looked at one another, as the
only possible explanation suddenly clicked into place. As if to
confirm the theory, a jet roared overhead. Rizzoli squinted upward,
to see a 747 glide past, on its landing approach to Logan
International Airport, five miles to the northeast.

"Oh, Jesus," said Frost, shading his eyes against the sun.

"What a way to go. Please tell me he was already dead when he

"There's a good chance of it," said Tierney. "I would guess his
body slipped out as the wheels came down, on landing

That's assuming it was an inbound flight."

"Well, yeah," said Rizzoli. "How many stowaways are trying to get
out of the country?" She looked at the dead man's olive complexion.
"So he's coming in on a plane, say, from South America--"

"It would've been flying at an altitude of at least thirty thousand
feet," said Tierney. "Wheel wells aren't pressurized. A stowaway
would be dealing with rapid decompression. Frostbite. Even in high
summer, the temperatures at those altitudes are freezing. A few
hours under those conditions, he'd be hypothermic and unconscious
from lack of oxygen. Or already crushed when the landing gear
retracted on takeoff. A prolonged ride in the wheel well would
probably finish him off."

Rizzoli's pager cut into the lecture. And a lecture it would surely
turn into; Dr. Tierney was just beginning to hit his professorial
stride. She glanced at the number on her beeper but did not
recognize it. A Newton prefix. She reached for her cell phone and

"Detective Korsak," a man answered.

"This is Rizzoli. Did you page me?"

"You on a cell phone, Detective?"


"Can you get to a landline?"

"Not at the moment, no." She did not know who Detective Korsak was,
and she was anxious to cut this call short. "Why don't you tell me
what this is about?"

A pause. She heard voices in the background and the crackle of a
cop's walkie-talkie. "I'm at a scene out here in Newton," he said.
"I think you should come out and see this."

"Are you requesting Boston P.D. assistance? Because I can refer you
to someone else in our unit."

"I tried reaching Detective Moore, but they said he's on leave.
That's why I'm calling you." Again he paused. And added, with quiet
significance: "It's about that case you and Moore headed up last
summer. You know the one."

She fell silent. She knew exactly what he was referring to. The
memories of that investigation still haunted her, still surfaced in
her nightmares.

"Go on," she said softly.

"You want the address?" he asked.

She took out her notepad.

A moment later, she hung up and turned her attention back to Dr.

"I've seen similar injuries in sky divers whose parachutes fail to
open," he said. "From that height, a falling body would reach
terminal velocity. That's nearly two hundred feet per second. It's
enough to cause the disintegration we see here."

"It's a hell of a price to pay to get to this country," said

Another jet roared overhead, its shadow swooping past like an

Rizzoli gazed up at the sky. Imagined a body falling, tumbling a
thousand feet. Thought of the cold air whistling past. And then
warmer air, as the ground spins ever closer.

She looked at the sheet-draped remains of a man who had dared to
dream of a new world, a brighter future. Welcome to

The Newton patrolman posted in front of the house was just a
rookie, and he did not recognize Rizzoli. He stopped her at the
perimeter of the police tape and addressed her with a brusque tone
that matched his newly minted uniform. His name tag said:

"This is a crime scene, ma'am."

"I'm Detective Rizzoli, Boston P.D. Here to see Detective

"I.D., please."

She hadn't expected such a request, and she had to dig in her purse
for her badge. In the city of Boston, just about every patrolman
knew exactly who she was. One short drive out of her territory,
into this well-heeled suburb, and suddenly she was reduced to
fumbling for her badge. She held it right up to his nose.

He took one look and flushed. "I'm really sorry, ma'am. See, there
was this asshole reporter who talked her way past me just a few
minutes ago. I wasn't gonna let that happen again."

"Is Korsak inside?"

"Yes, ma'am."

She eyed the jumble of vehicles parked on the street, among them a
EXAMINER stenciled on the side.

"How many victims?" she asked.

"One. They're getting ready to move him out now."

The patrolman lifted the tape to let her pass into the front yard.
Birds chirped and the air smelled like sweet grass. You're not in
South Boston anymore, she thought. The landscaping was immaculate,
with clipped boxwood hedges and a lawn that was bright Astro Turf
green. She paused on the brick walkway and stared up at the
roofline with its Tudor accents. Lord of the fake English
was what came to mind. This was not a house, nor a
neighborhood, that an honest cop could ever afford.

"Some digs, huh?" Patrolman Ridge called out to her.

"What did this guy do for a living?"

"I hear he was some kind of surgeon."

Surgeon. For her, the word had special meaning, and the
sound of it pierced her like an icy needle, chilling her even on
this warm day. She looked at the front door and saw that the knob
was sooty with fingerprint powder. She took a deep breath, pulled
on latex gloves, and slipped paper booties over her shoes.

Inside, she saw polished oak floors and a stairwell that rose to
cathedral heights. A stained-glass window let in glowing lozenges
of color.

She heard the whish-whish of paper shoe covers, and a bear
of a man lumbered into the hallway. Though he was dressed in
businesslike attire, with a neatly knotted tie, the effect was
ruined by the twin continents of sweat staining his underarms. His
shirtsleeves were rolled up, revealing beefy arms bristling with
dark hair. "Rizzoli?" he asked.

"One and the same."

He came toward her, arm outstretched, then remembered he was
wearing gloves and let his hand fall again. "Vince Korsak. Sorry I
couldn't say more over the phone, but everyone's got a scanner
these days. Already had one reporter worm her way in here. What a

"So I heard."

"Look, I know you're probably wondering what the hell you're doing
way out here. But I followed your work last year. You know, the
Surgeon killings. I thought you'd want to see this."

Her mouth had gone dry. "What've you got?"

"Vic's in the family room. Dr. Richard Yeager, age thirty-six.
Orthopedic surgeon. This is his residence."

She glanced up at the stained-glass window. "You Newton boys get
the upscale homicides."

"Hey, Boston P.D. can have 'em all. This isn't supposed to happen
out here. Especially weird shit like this."

Korsak led the way down the hall, into the family room. Rizzoli's
first view was of brilliant sunlight flooding through a two-story
wall of ground-to-ceiling windows. Despite the number of crime
scene techs at work here, the room felt spacious and stark, all
white walls and gleaming wood floors.

And blood. No matter how many crime scenes she walked into, that
first sight of blood always shocked her. A comet's tail of arterial
splatter had shot across the wall and trickled down in streamers.
The source of that blood, Dr. Richard Yeager, sat with his back
propped up against the wall, his wrists bound behind him. He was
wearing only boxer shorts, and his legs were stretched out in front
of him, the ankles bound with duct tape. His head lolled forward,
obscuring her view of the wound that had released the fatal
hemorrhage, but she did not need to see the slash to know that it
had gone deep, to the carotid and the windpipe. She was already too
familiar with the aftermath of such a wound, and she could read his
final moments in the pattern of blood: the artery spurting, the
lungs filling up, the victim aspirating through his severed
windpipe. Drowning in his own blood. Exhaled tracheal spray had
dried on his bare chest. Judging by his broad shoulders and his
musculature, he had been physically fit--surely capable of fighting
back against an attacker. Yet he had died with head bowed, in a
posture of obeisance.

The two morgue attendants had already brought in their stretcher
and were standing by the body, considering how best to move a
corpse that was frozen in rigor mortis.

"When the M.E. saw him at ten A.M.," said Korsak, "livor mortis was
fixed, and he was in full rigor. She estimated the time of death
somewhere between midnight and three A.M."

"Who found him?"

"His office nurse. When he didn't show up at the clinic this
morning and he didn't answer his phone, she drove over to check on
him. Found him around nine A.M. There's no sign of his wife."

Rizzoli looked at Korsak. "Wife?"

"Gail Yeager, age thirty-one. She's missing."

The chill Rizzoli had felt standing by the Yeagers' front door was
back again. "An abduction?"

"I'm just saying she's missing."

Rizzoli stared at Richard Yeager, whose muscle-bound body had
proved no match for Death. "Tell me about these people. Their

"Happy couple. That's what everyone says."

"That's what they always say."

"In this case, it does seem to be true. Only been married two
years. Bought this house a year ago. She's an O.R. nurse at his
hospital, so they had the same circle of friends, same work

"That's a lot of togetherness."

"Yeah, I know. It'd drive me bonkers if I had to hang around with
my wife all day. But they seemed to get along fine. Last month, he
took two whole weeks off, just to stay home with her after her
mother died. How much you figure an orthopedic surgeon makes in two
weeks, huh? Fifteen, twenty thousand bucks? That's some expensive
comfort he was giving her."

"She must have needed it."

Korsak shrugged. "Still."

"So you found no reason why she'd walk out on him."

"Much less whack him."

Rizzoli glanced at the family room windows. Trees and shrubbery
blocked any view of neighboring houses. "You said the time of death
was between midnight and three."


"Did the neighbors hear anything?"

"Folks to the left are in Paris. Ooh la la. Neighbors to the right
slept soundly all night."

"Forced entry?"

"Kitchen window. Screen pried off, used a glass cutter. Size eleven
shoeprints in the flower bed. Same prints tracked blood in this
room." He took out a handkerchief and wiped his moist forehead.
Korsak was one of those unlucky individuals for whom no
antiperspirant was powerful enough. Just in the few minutes they'd
been conversing, the sweat stains in his shirt had spread.

"Okay, let's slide him away from the wall," one of the morgue
attendants said. "Tip him onto the sheet."

"Watch the head! It's slipping!"

"Aw, Jesus."

Rizzoli and Korsak fell silent as Dr. Yeager was laid sideways on a
disposable sheet. Rigor mortis had stiffened the corpse into a
ninety-degree angle, and the attendants debated how to arrange him
on the stretcher, given his grotesque posture.

Rizzoli suddenly focused on a chip of white lying on the floor,
where the body had been sitting. She crouched down to retrieve what
appeared to be a tiny shard of china.

"Broken teacup," said Korsak.


"There was a teacup and saucer next to the victim. Looked like it
fell off his lap or something. We've already packed it up for
prints." He saw her puzzled look and he shrugged. "Don't ask

"Symbolic artifact?"

"Yeah. Ritual tea party for the dead guy."

She stared at the small chip of china lying in her gloved palm and
considered what it meant. A knot had formed in her stomach. A
terrible sense of familiarity. A slashed throat. Duct tape
bindings. Nocturnal entry through a window. The victim or victims
surprised while asleep.

And a missing woman.

"Where's the bedroom?" she asked. Not wanting to see it. Afraid to
see it.

"Okay. This is what I wanted you to look at."

The hallway that led to the bedroom was hung with framed
black-and-white photographs. Not the smiling-family poses that most
houses displayed, but stark images of female nudes, the faces
obscured or turned from the camera, the torsos anonymous. A woman
embracing a tree, smooth skin pressed against rough bark. A seated
woman bent forward, her long hair cascading down between her bare
thighs. A woman reaching for the sky, torso glistening with the
sweat of vigorous exercise. Rizzoli paused to study a photo that
had been knocked askew.

"These are all the same woman," she said.

"It's her."

"Mrs. Yeager?"

"Looks like they had a kinky thing going, huh?"

She stared at Gail Yeager's finely toned body. "I don't think it's
kinky at all. These are beautiful pictures."

"Yeah, whatever. Bedroom's in here." He pointed through the

She stopped at the threshold. Inside was a king-size bed, its
covers thrown back, as though its occupants had been abruptly
roused from sleep. On the shell-pink carpet, the nylon pile had
been flattened in two separate swaths leading from the bed to the

Rizzoli said, softly, "They were both dragged from the bed."

Korsak nodded. "Our perp surprises them in bed. Somehow subdues
them. Binds their wrists and ankles. Drags them across the carpet
and into the hallway, where the wood floor begins."

She was baffled by the killer's actions. She imagined him standing
where she was now, looking in at the sleeping couple. A window high
over the bed, uncurtained, would have spilled enough light to see
which was the man and which the woman. He would go to Dr. Yeager
first. It was the logical thing to do, to control the man. Leave
the woman for later. This much Rizzoli could envision. The
approach, the initial attack. What she did not understand was what
came next.

"Why move them?" she said. "Why not kill Dr. Yeager right here?
What was the point of bringing them out of the bedroom?"

"I don't know." He pointed through the doorway. "It's all been
photographed. You can go in."

Reluctantly she entered the room, avoiding the drag marks on the
carpet, and crossed to the bed. She saw no blood on the sheets or
the covers. On one pillow was a long blond strand-- Mrs. Yeager's
side of the bed, she thought. She turned to the dresser, where a
framed photograph of the couple confirmed that Gail Yeager was
indeed a blonde. A pretty one, too, with light-blue eyes and a
dusting of freckles on deeply tanned skin. Dr. Yeager had his arm
draped around her shoulder and projected the brawny confidence of a
man who knows he is physically imposing. Not a man who would one
day end up dead in his underwear, his hands and feet bound.

"It's on the chair," said Korsak.


"Look at the chair."

She turned to face the corner of the room and saw an antique
ladder-back chair. Lying on the seat was a folded nightgown. Moving
closer, she saw bright spatters of red staining the cream

The hairs on the back of her neck were suddenly bristling, and for
a few seconds she forgot to breathe.

She reached down and lifted one corner of the garment. The
underside of the fold was spattered as well.

"We don't know whose blood it is," said Korsak. "It could be Dr.
Yeager's; it could be the wife's."

"It was already stained before he folded it."

"But there's no other blood in this room. Which means it got
splattered in the other room. Then he brought it into this bedroom.
Folded it nice and neat. Placed it on that chair, like a little
parting gift." Korsak paused. "Does that remind you of

She swallowed. "You know it does."

"This killer is copying your boy's old signature."

"No, this is different. This is all different. The Surgeon never
attacked couples."

"The folded nightclothes. The duct tape. The victims surprised in

"Warren Hoyt chose single women. Victims he could quickly

"But look at the similarities! I'm telling you, we've got a
copycat. Some wacko who's been reading about the Surgeon."

Rizzoli was still staring at the nightgown, remembering other
bedrooms, other scenes of death. It had happened during a summer of
unbearable heat, like this one, when women slept with their windows
open and a man named Warren Hoyt crept into their homes. He brought
with him his dark fantasies and his scalpels, the instruments with
which he performed his bloody rituals on victims who were awake and
aware of every slice of his blade. She gazed at that nightgown, and
a vision of Hoyt's utterly ordinary face sprang clearly to mind, a
face that still surfaced in her nightmares.

But this is not his work. Warren Hoyt is safely locked away in a
place he can't escape. I know, because I put the bastard there

"The Boston Globe printed every juicy detail," said Korsak. "Your
boy even made it into the New York Times. Now this perp is
reenacting it."

"No, your killer is doing things Hoyt never did. He drags this
couple out of the bedroom, into another room. He props up the man
in a sitting position, then slashes his neck. It's more like an
execution. Or part of a ritual. Then there's the woman. He kills
the husband, but what does he do with the wife?" She stopped,
suddenly remembering the shard of china on the floor. The broken
teacup. Its significance blew through her like an icy wind.

Without a word, she walked out of the bedroom and returned to the
family room. She looked at the wall where the corpse of Dr. Yeager
had been sitting. She looked down at the floor and began to pace a
wider and wider circle, studying the spatters of blood on the

"Rizzoli?" said Korsak.

She turned to the windows and squinted against the sunlight. "It's
too bright in here. And there's so much glass. We can't cover it
all. We'll have to come back tonight."

"You thinking of using a Lumalite?"

"We'll need ultraviolet to see it."

"What are you looking for?"

She turned back to the wall. "Dr. Yeager was sitting there when he
died. Our unknown subject dragged him from the bedroom. Propped him
up against that wall, and made him face the center of the


"Why was he placed there? Why go to all that trouble while the
victim's still alive? There had to be a reason."

"What reason?"

"He was put there to watch something. To be a witness to what
happened in this room."

At last Korsak's face registered appalled comprehension. He stared
at the wall, where Dr. Yeager had sat, an audience of one in a
theater of horror.

"Oh, Jesus," he said.

Excerpted from THE APPRENTICE © Copyright 2002 by Tess
Gerritsen. Reprinted with permission by Ballantine Books, a
division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Apprentice
by by Tess Gerritsen

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345447867
  • ISBN-13: 9780345447869