THE PHIPPS PLAZA shopping mall in Atlanta was a showy montage of
pink-granite floors, sweeping bronze-trimmed staircases, gilded
Napoleonic design, lighting that sparkled like halogen spotlights.
A man and a woman watched the target - "Mom" - as she left Niketown
with sneakers and whatnot for her three daughters packed under one
"She is very pretty. I see why the Wolf likes her. She reminds me
of Claudia Schiffer," said the male observer. "You see the
"Everybody reminds you of Claudia Schiffer, Slava. Don't lose her.
Don't lose your pretty little Claudia or the Wolf will have you for
The abduction team, the Couple, was dressed expensively, and that
made it easy for them to blend in at Phipps Plaza, in the Buckhead
section of Atlanta. At eleven in the morning, Phipps wasn't very
crowded, and that could be a problem.
It helped that their target was rushing about in a world of her
own, a tight little cocoon of mindless activity, buzzing in and out
of Gucci, Caswell-Massey, Niketown, then Gapkids and Parisian (to
see her personal shopper, Gina), without paying the slightest
attention to who was around her in any of the stores. She worked
from an At-a-Glance leather-bound diary and made her appointed
rounds in a quick, efficient, practiced manner, buying faded jeans
for Gwynne, a leather dop kit for Brendan, Nike diving watches for
Meredith and Brigid. She even made an appointment at Carter-Barnes
to get her hair done.
The target had style and also a pleasant smile for the salespeople
who waited on her in the tony stores. She held doors for those
coming up behind her, even men, who went out of their way to thank
the attractive blonde. "Mom" was sexy in the wholesome, clean-cut
way of many upscale American suburban women. And she did resemble
the supermodel Claudia Schiffer. That was her undoing.
According to the job's specs, Mrs. Elizabeth Connolly was the
mother of three girls; she was a graduate of Vassar, class of '87,
with what she called "a degree in art history that is practically
worthless in the real world - whatever that is - but invaluable to
me." She'd been a reporter for the Washington Post and the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution before she was married. She
was thirty-seven, though she didn't look much more than thirty. She
had her hair in a velvet barrette that morning, wore a
short-sleeved turtleneck, a crocheted sweater, slim-fitting slacks.
She was bright, religious - but sane about it - and tough when she
needed to be, at least according to the specs.
Well, she would need to be tough soon. Mrs. Elizabeth Connolly was
about to be abducted. She had been purchased, and she was probably
the most expensive item for sale that morning at Phipps Plaza. The
Excerpted from THE BIG BAD WOLF © Copyright 2003 by James
Patterson. Reprinted with permission by Warner Books, an imprint of
Time Warner Bookmark. All rights reserved.