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David Baldacci's The Christmas Train - Excerpt

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CHAPTER ONE
Tom Langdon was a journalist, a globetrotting one, because it was in his blood to roam widely. Where others saw only instability and fear in life, Tom felt graced by an embracing independence. He’d spent the bulk of his career in foreign lands covering wars, insurrections, famines, pestilence, virtually every earthly despair. His goal had been relatively simple: He had wanted to change the world by calling attention to its wrongs. And he did love adventure.

However, after chronicling all these horrific events and still seeing the conditions of humanity steadily worsen, he’d returned to America filled with disappointment. Seeking an antidote to his melancholy he’d started writing drearily light stories for ladies’ magazines, home-decorating journals, garden digests, and the like. However, after memorializing the wonders of compost and the miracle that was do-it-yourself wood flooring, he wasn’t exactly fulfilled.

It was nearing Christmas, and Tom’s most pressing dilemma was getting from the East Coast to Los Angeles for the holidays.

He had an age-old motivation for the journey; in LA was his girlfriend, Lelia Gibson. She’d started out as a movie actress, but after years of appearing in third-rate horror films she’d begun doing voiceover work. Now, instead of being cinematically butchered for her daily bread, she supplied the character voices for a variety of enormously popular Saturday-morning cartoons. In the children’s television industry it was accepted that no one belted out the voices of goofy woodland creatures with greater flair and versatility than golden-piped Lelia Gibson. As proof, she had a shelf full of awards, an outrageously large income, and a healthy share of syndication rights.

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