I just finished reformatting A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder for the Kindle, so within a day or two it should be available for that device for the low, low price of $0.99! As usual it will be DRM-free and text-to-speech enabled. If you have a Kindle, or use the Kindle reader for your computer or mobile device, check it out! I will be putting up the link to the Kindle edition once it has been approved by the gatekeepers at Amazon.
To tide everyone over until the Kindle edition is available, here’s a randomly-selected excerpt from the book:
Notspud. What a lame password. But hey, it got him in, and that was the important thing. Now he could cruise. Jasper dove into the computer head-first to see what he could see.
It didn’t take too long for him to be thoroughly bored with the whole thing. No games, just business stuff. Spreadsheets and letters and memos. A database. An electronic card file, from which he got the number to Quentin Farmer’s cellular phone. Whee. It all looked like very costly software, but it was colossally dull.
Oscar came in, looking tired. He stopped when he saw Jasper and said: “You still here? It’s like eight o’clock, man. Your parents are gonna freak.”
“No way.” Jasper checked his watch. “Shit!”
“Don’t tell them you were here, okay, man? I don’t wanna get stopped by the cops again. Cost me two hundred dollars to repair the broken taillight and shit last time.”
“Okay, sure,” Jasper said. He switched off the laptop and slid it into his school bag.
“You, uh … you taking the computer?”
“I cracked the password.”
“Hacker! What is it?”
“Tell you later.”
“Aw, come on, man, you said we would share!”
“We will,” Jasper said. “We will, I just want to check it out a little more.”
“He got anything good on there?”
“I didn’t find anything yet. Just business stuff.”
“None of them tittie pictures they got on the Internet?”
“The money he has, he gets all the tittie he wants,” Jasper said.
“Oh.” Oscar looked disappointed. “Well, if you find any, save them for me, okay?”
“Okay, sure. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Oscar stepped out of the way to let him by. It was just as well he was leaving; somebody was doing a massive load of laundry downstairs and they were using the most God-awful detergent he had ever smelled, like lemons soaked in Old Spice.
When he got home, there was a shiny white Channel Six van parked in the driveway. He circled the vehicle, peering through the windows; but he couldn’t see into the back where, undoubtedly, the good stuff was. He tried the doors. They were all locked. Oh well. He climbed the stairs to the porch and went into the house and stopped dead and stared.
His father and mother were sitting on the couch, very close together, holding hands. His father was tricked out in a somber grey suit where the jacket and the pants actually matched and, beyond that, appeared to be made of the same fabric. Beneath the jacket he wore a white shirt and one of those Western string ties, the kind Jasper figured you shouldn’t wear if you weren’t in Houston or on a cattle drive. His mother was wearing a simple print dress and a small necklace and tiny stud earrings; usually her earrings were big enough to gag a cat, and her necklaces and bracelets could be used to tow railway cars. They both had strained, nervous, patently fake expressions, as they stared into the Channel Six camera being pointed right at their faces. The thing had a light on it so bright his parents would probably both be tanned by the time they were done.
Sitting in a chair opposite the sofa was a reporter, not the one his father had caught giving Quentin Farmer a blow job; this one was a brunette, though from what Jasper Junior could see she had a smashing body. As he entered, the reporter was saying, “And what are you going to do now, Mr. Shoemaker?”
A member of the film crew nudged over to Jasper and put his finger to his lips. Jasper was too shocked to make noise anyway.
“Well, I don’t rightly know,” Jasper Senior said. Jasper Junior had never heard such talk from him before. And when had he developed a southern accent? “I guess it depends on what my boss does. I mean, if he wants to make my life miserable because I do my job, what can I do about it? I can’t quit. Being a peace officer is all that I know.”
Jasper Junior thought: A peace officer?
Noreen gave Jasper Senior a reassuring squeeze on the elbow. Jasper Junior fought the urge to barf into his duffel bag.
“If you could say one thing to Quentin Farmer right now, what would it be?”
Jasper Senior visibly thought about the question. He looked searchingly into his wife’s face. Jasper Junior felt himself shriveling up with embarrassment. At last, Jasper Senior looked straight into the camera and said, “The law applies to you too, Mr. Farmer.”
The crew member near Jasper Junior said, out of the corner of his mouth, “Your father’s a real ham, kid.” Jasper just wanted to crawl inside his bag and pull the flap shut behind himself.
The cameraman shut off his scorching light and lowered his lens. The reporter stood up, and so did Jasper Junior’s parents. “How’d I do?” Jasper Senior said. “I do a good job?”
“You did fine,” the reporter said.
“This’ll run tonight?”
“At eleven,” the reporter said. “Again in the morning, probably. We need to edit it, of course.”
“You think any of the national networks will pick up the story?” Noreen asked.
The reporter cocked her head. “Doubtful,” she said. “He’s not a national figure. Nobody in Idaho cares about Quentin Farmer.”
She hadn’t done her homework, Jasper thought; but he wasn’t going to be the one to correct her.
“It’s a human interest story,” Noreen said. “Don’t you think?”
The reporter said: “It doesn’t matter what I think. I don’t run the news departments at any of the networks. You’re not going to retire off this incident, folks.” She handed her microphone and the attendant equipment to one of her crewmen; the one who had spoken to Jasper had started breaking down the lighting fixtures.
As they cleared the junk away from the doorway leading into the hall, Jasper Junior brushed through, past his parents—who didn’t even seem to register his presence—and on to his room at the back of the house. He closed the door, locked it, and took out the computer. He put it on his desk, between a terrarium full of dead plants and possibly a few hermit crabs and a McDonald’s bag that still exuded the odor of fries after all these weeks.
He opened the laptop and stared at the grey screen.
He couldn’t believe his father was doing an interview on TV in full undertaker regalia. Jesus. He hoped nobody saw it. The law applies to you too, Mr. Farmer. Oh, that was terrific. Mr. Free Doughnuts preaches to businessman; film at eleven.
Humiliated. He was humiliated. He was going to hear about this tomorrow at school, he was.
At a knock on his door, Jasper quickly folded up the laptop and stuck it back in his bag. “Who is it?” he called.
“Lauren Wise.” The brunette’s voice, soft and smooth. “Your father told us how Quentin Farmer accused you of stealing his computer. We wanted to hear your side of the story.”
And Jasper thought: Oh, shit.