Focus Friday: Doing Max Vinyl


By Frederick Lee Brooke

When it happened, Annie Ogden was staring at her screen, trying to understand how they assigned certain trucks to certain routes. Suddenly right on her screen the green rectangles that represented trucks all acquired thick white outlines. Then the trucks themselves turned white and became blank white shapes. Two seconds later, the white shapes and the entire gray background grid vanished entirely. All that was left was a solid blue screen.

The computer had crashed.

What came next she had never seen before. Slowly, one after another, four words in plain white type appeared on the blue background.


Tris. TRS. Without. I.


The cryptic message could not be clicked away. She touched her mouse. No cursor, nothing.

Rodriguez burst out of his office.

“Denial of service!” he shouted on the run, his door banging against the wall.

Whatever that meant.

He crossed through reception in three steps and disappeared into triage. Annie heard Rodriguez shouting orders as the door closed.

On her computer nothing reacted now, neither the mouse, nor the keyboard. Oh, well – she held the power button down a few seconds. The hammer approach, Michael used to say. When all else fails, power off. The screen with its strange message held for a few seconds. Then it switched off and the screen went blank.

In the distance she heard yelling. It was coming from the warehouse rooms, probably Rodriguez. She powered on once more. Only the blue screen, still frozen. No message this time.

She ignored the incoming calls, took off her headset, and walked into triage, and from there into testing. Over on the other side she spotted Roberto again.

“What’s going on? I had some weird stuff on my screen. Now my computer’s dead.”

“Lemme guess, something about Tris,” Roberto said.

“Yeah, that was a good one,” Murray said.

“Why did she leave this job? What can you guys tell me about her?”

“I don’t know, but my guess would be she’s getting her revenge on old Max today,” Murray said.

“You probably did it yourself, you old bomb-thrower,” Roberto said, punching Murray on the arm. Murray looked seriously offended and ready to fight. But they were interrupted by Rodriguez race-walking through the crowd.

“You,” he said, grabbing Murray’s arm, then Roberto’s, “and you. They need you down in the server room. Here’s your chance to show your stuff. You,” he steered Annie back toward reception. “Come back up front with me.”

“Sorry I left my desk, Mr. Rodriguez. My computer’s down.”

“Everything’s down. I need you manning the phones.”

“It freaked me out, that message.”

“What message?”

“Something about Tris. You didn’t see it?”

Rodriguez laughed, but it was a thin, forced laugh, not like he was really amused. “What a ditz. We’re TSR, not TRS. Looks like that tree-hugging bimbo’s dyslexic on top of all the rest.” He disappeared into his office.

Tree-hugging bimbo?

Annie had just got her headset back on when the little bell over the front door chimed. A man in a brown suit with a shaved head stood on the door, squinting at her. He had on a white shirt in this heat, and a green silk tie with birds.

“This is one hell of a place to locate.” He walked up to the desk and stuck out a hand. “Bob Olson from Sterling Accounting. I called earlier. Come to get my boss’s Thinkpad back.”

 About Doing Max Vinyl

Earth first. Okay, maybe second. Third? She’ll KILL you!
Max Vinyl’s type of success story can only happen in America. Rising from humble beginnings, he has reached the height of the computer recycling racket. Problem is, he’s using Lake Michigan as his own personal profit center. Even that wouldn’t have been a problem if his environmentalist girlfriend Tris hadn’t found out his dirty secret. And while Max is devastated by his love crashing down around him, he’s about to learn that the rage of a woman scorned packs far more firepower and potential for destruction than he had ever imagined.
Iraq War veteran Annie Ogden has spent three tormented months living in a cabin alone trying to re-discover her purpose in life. When two of Max’s thugs threaten Annie’s sister, she is dragged into his corrupt world in an unwitting alliance with the environmentalist, Tris. Which is really lousy news for Max. Will he hold up under the coordinated attacks of two furious women? As things spin completely out of control and complications mount, it’s all Max can do to stay one step ahead until it’s all he can do to stay alive!
A farce full of hysterics and chicanery, Frederick Lee Brooke’s first installment of the Annie Ogden mysteries is an incisive examination of corporate lunacy, greed and modern disconnection. Having received multiple four and five-star reviews on Amazon, Doing Max Vinyl: An Annie Ogden Mystery is loaded with razor-sharp dialogue, ingenious plotting and so much fun it should be illegal!

About Frederick Lee Brooke

Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and followed with Zombie Candy in 2012. The third book in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013. Fred’s new series, The Drone Wars, comprises three books, Saving Raine, Inferno, and a work in progress.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He makes frequent trips to the United States to visit friends and family. Visit Fred on Facebook or Twitter.

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