The Blue Zone

The Blue Zone

by Andrew Gross

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062199874
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 326,755
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Andrew Gross is the author of the New York Times and international bestsellers Everything to Lose, No Way Back, 15 Seconds, Eyes Wide Open, Reckless, Don't Look Back, The Dark Tide, and The Blue Zone. He is also 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.

Read an Excerpt

The Blue Zone
A Novel


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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Blue Zone 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 177 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will not be disappointed....Mr. Gross can REALLY tell a story! I have been hooked since book one & even hassle him on twitter to write more, lol! No joke! If you enjoy a great "whodunit", that is paced well with likeable characters and a good background story, Andrew Gross is right up your literary alley! Enjoy fellow mystery readers! :-) NurseLisainOhio (twitter, goodreads, instagram, Nook friends) - I am an avid NookWorm!
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic. It is action packed and suspenseful. I had a hard time putting the book down. This is an awesome first novel from Andrew Gross. I can't wait for his next book.
sand7s More than 1 year ago
Fast paced story with likable characters - all needed for a great beach read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept you guessing all the way to the end! Great reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was an intriguing story, which is what got me to the end. i wanted to see everything unfold. but i really didn't care for the language. call me a bit naive, i just don't think i need to read the "f" word so much...
Perry_Mason More than 1 year ago
My byline says it all. I read a lot of books on my Nook and this one is the best thriller I've read in some time. It is full of suspense and twists and just when you think you have something figured out the author adds an element that changes that. The book is well written with characters that could have been pulled from the headlines. This author used to write some of James Patterson's books. He wrote the Women's Murder series back when it was worth reading. He is very talented and knows how to craft a story.
BKC10013 More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, good story, likable characters - all needed for a great pool side read. I already recommended it to my friends. Really enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my interest and had me changing mind on who the bad guy was a few times.
FrancesEvlin More than 1 year ago
The writing is tight, the characters believable, the plot neatly executed, the storyline (re the witness protection program) is interesting and informative. My only complaint, and this is personal choice, is that the book contains more graphic violence than I like to read.
ReadalotBB More than 1 year ago
I pick this book up because I am a huge fan of James Patterson and loved the books they co wrote so I thought to give him a chance on his own and loved it. I will be looking forward to more of Andrew Gross.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Andrew Gross should definitely write more books on his own. This book was fantastic and there are not a lot of books that capture my attention and emotions so deeply that I cannot put it down. I lost a lot of sleep reading this book ¿ that¿s a good thing. It was thrilling, touching and exciting from beginning to end. It will shock and surprise you over and over again and the ending was absolutely perfect ¿ it fit like a glove. I will be looking forward to more of his talented novels in the future¿
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I thought "The Blue Zone" by Andrew Gross was a stimulating thriller that kept me interested throughout. The premise may be a little far-fetched and forced in some areas, but I found it to be well written. A family forced into the Witness Protection Program because of the father's dealings with a cartel is one thing. But then daughter, Kate Rabb starts wondering what is really going on and murders piles up, her father disappears and secrets are kept from her. This is a good, fast-paced story that one can read on the plane, commute or an evening by the fire.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Bronx based medical researcher Kate Raab is stunned when the FBI arrests her gold trader father, Benjamin for moving money for a drug cartel. Even more shocking is when a precision squad of hitmen tries to kill all of Benjamin¿s relatives. Everyone immediately accepts the Feds' offer to start over inside the witness protection program that is every member except Kate. --- When Benjamin abruptly flees the WPP and is subsequently accused of killing his government contact agent, Kate begins to wonder just who her dad is as she had not truly believed the original charges. She needs to know if she shares the DNA of a cold blood killer or is he something else she prays for something else though not sure what that could be even as her inquires lead to one betrayal after another. --- On his first unaccompanied flight (sans James Patterson), Andrew Gross provides readers with an interesting action-packed thriller that focuses on the deceptiveness of the Witness Protection Program. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Mercado cartel attack the extended Raab family and never slows down as a likable heroine struggles for the truth. Though key aspects of the plot seem implausible, WPP thriller fans will not care as Mr. Gross provides a delightful entertaining tale. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book based on authors collaboration with James Patterson. I figured it was a pretty safe bet. I sat down for a few minutes between chores and got drawn in by the first chapter. Needless to say nothing got done the rest of the day. But it certainly wasn't time wasted. I enjoyed this one from start to finish and can't wait for his next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I figured this guy had to be a pretty good writer based on his collaborations with James Patterson. The Blue Zone, which is his first solo book, was amazing. Just be warned: start this on a Friday night, when you don't have any Saturday plans. It was that good, and will keep you reading straight through. One of the best thrillers I've ever read, based on the idea: what would you do if you learned that your entire life was a lie, and you didn't know who you could trust? And it takes off from there. Very taut book at over 300 pages, there's not a wasted word, and it's a rollercoaster ride. This would make an excellent movie. The author's going to be a huge star, and I can't wait for his next book. I only hope he turns them out as fast as James Patterson!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in quite some time lots of twists and turns. Looking forward to more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Draghi More than 1 year ago
This was the first time that I've read anything by Andrew Gross. I loved the book and his style. Very captivating! I would actually read it again: That's how good it was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The United States Marshall¿s agency that controls the Witness Protection Program is called WITSEC. This program oversees all those in the program and is divided into three names or zones the Red Zone for those in protective custody or while in prison and/or on trial the Green Zone when all members of the family are safe in hiding under new identities in a new location and the Blue Zone when it is thought that one in the WITSEC program has been compromised and are in danger and has been lost or unaccounted for. The Blue Zone is the area not wanted at any time by the authorities. Benjamin Raab has secrets that are unknown to any in his family. To that family, he is a great husband and father and does all he can do that lets his family think just that way. In reality, Raab has been dabbling in the sale of gold that he knows deep down is being done outside the law but his own mind justifies it, thus allowing him to keep his family believing that he is a well-off and loving family member. When one day he is suddenly arrested and carted off to prison, his family thinks it is all a huge mistake. Their husband/father would never break the law to hurt anyone, especially his family. Raab¿s daughter, Kate, who is foremost in the story, works as a lab researcher at a college. She is known as a very smart and beautiful woman. Raab denied any wrong doing during his FBI interrogation, justifying his actions as simple, but large, mostly gold transactions that he had sold to law abiding individuals and corporations. One question led to another and when certain names were mentioned, Raab started to think deeply about those transactions fully knowing that some of them were a bit above the law. They had him! His family still felt he had done no wrong. A father and husband that was so good to his wife, Sharon, and the children, Emily, Justin, and Kate, that he could have done no wrong. Even when Benjamin admitted his part in some transactions to the authorities, his family would not believe he was a part of any law breaking activities such as the money laundering that was a part of his accusations. The entire family was in danger due to the connections that the former transactions were connected to including cartels and mafia groups. Kate insisted that she would not go into witness protection since she was about to marry Greg and she did not want to uproot their lives. So Kate stays behind while the rest of the family goes into the WITSEC program with all of them knowing there could be no connection between Kate and the rest of her family. Their names would be changed along with everything in their normal lives. Emily was a star squash player and had risen to near the top of her game and now had to leave that great part of her life and attempt to start over somewhere else. From here the story gets even more active as those wanting to find Benjamin Raab to get him and what they felt he owed them, no matter how they could. The family was safe, or so the WITSEC program thought, but in reality, bad people have their own ways to find what they want and those ways include any family member or friends they could intimidate. The search for those threatening Kate and the ¿hidden¿ family takes many twists and turns taking the reader on a very good suspenseful ride with uncertain destinations and actions on the next page. Andrew Gross has collaborated with James Patterson for several books, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is no plot certainty in the books written by either of these writers, individually or together. They know how to stretch out suspense to keep you turning the pages and not wanting to stop. Andrew Gross has accomplished this in The Blue Zone in his first of, what I truly hope, a long line of great suspense stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific read. Fast paced and mysterious.
lg4154 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
honoliipali on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this book from a bargain bin thinking it looked OK. As soon as I started reading this fine debut solo book, I had to remark how great a buy this was.The plot is fast paced with numerous plot twists. The author clearly thought out the storyline with great attention to making it a great thriller. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers and mysteries.The characters can be felt through the writing. You may think you understand a character but watch out - your thoughts will likely change as you read this fine thriller. I will now seek out the rest of his solo books for a high position in my reading queue.
booksandbutter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely read another from this author again. Loved the characters, the twists and turns, and held my attention all the way through.
PermaSwooned on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Evidently this author frequently wrote in tandem with James Patterson and this was the first book he wrote on his own. The story was unbelievably convoluted in an effort to keep the reader off balance, but I thought it became ridiculous.
ruthm2010 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about what happens when the web of deceit spun around a drugs cartel begins to unravel. Just how far will those involved go to get revenge? Not my usual reading material but I really enjoyed it. Lots of twists and turns.