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Even after a lifetime of putting dangerous criminals behind bars, heartless cop Spencer needs to redeem himself before he may enter heaven. Only the J.R.P. (Jerk Redemption Program) can help him now. He’s sent back to earth in the body of his K-9 partner to help a troubled teenager and his dysfunctional family. Spencer also swallowed an important microchip his killers need to execute their evil plan. Can Spencer maul the shins (and other choice areas) of the criminals and stop them? Can a selfish man find a heart? You bet, he just has to become a dog first.
Justin Andrews’ heart pounded so hard he thought it would punch out his throat. He trudged across St. Ignatius High School’s elm tree shadowed lawn, trying to keep up with his father who strode briskly. The half hour spent in the principal’s office sent ruts of adrenaline coursing through Justin’s veins. Even the balmy Seattle afternoon didn’t lighten the day’s heavy mood. The skin peeking out the back of Mr. Andrews sport coat collar was already flushed red. It wasn’t sunburn.
A spring wind blew through the private school’s grand hall window. Solitude and long shadows contrasted with another day of classes and activities. The daily exodus of uniformed schoolboys took place an hour ago, without Justin.
He opened the computer lab door and politely stepped aside as his father entered the flower-scented room. Baskets of bright, freshly cut bouquets covered every flat surface, including half the floor. Condolence tags hung on most.
“You were lucky to get a scholarship to this school,” muttered his father, Eugene Andrews, as he steepled his hands and assumed a confident expression.
Mr. Andrews was thin as a rule, which even his hair obeyed, and his business suit hung on his spare frame in straight-ironed lines.
“We can barely afford their activity fees, and how do you show your appreciation? By spending valuable time in Principal Hammersmith’s office because of your usual antics!
I hope you were as embarrassed as I was.” Mr. Andrews’ red face had grown haggard, but he returned to his normal tone. “I’m trying my best to understand you, but it’s difficult when you act before you think.”
Justin stopped tapping the keys of one of the classroom computers. He brushed back his sandy colored hair and tried hard to look unruffled by his father’s venting. Tall for his thirteen years, his even features were dappled with impish freckles, and his deep blue eyes sparkled. He frowned, recollecting that Principal Hammersmith had accused him of having “an understated confidence that bordered on impudence.”
Vicky Andrews, Justin’s sixteen-year-old sister, lounged in a computer lab chair, black backpack on the floor, waiting to go. She plucked a daisy from one of the bouquets, broke off the stem and stuck the blossom in her hair. She casually twisted the hem of her black T-shirt and listened to the scolding, ready to spring in as mediator if needed. Her eyebrow ring and bright pink hair screamed independence; an attitude she freely cultivated in her public high school.
“Chill out, Dad,” Vicky said, as she chewed away on a sizable wad of gum. “You’re making such a big deal out of this.”
“Big deal? It’s a disgrace. Your brother pasted Principal Hammersmith’s face on a picture of a mountain goat.”
Vicky tried to muffle her giggle with little success.
Her father glared at her. “So you think it’s funny, do you?” he asked as he continued to pace the floor.
“Not how your mother and I raised you. Did you see his screensaver?”
Justin had photoshopped Sister Constance’s face on a female goat in a very compromising position with the Mr. Hammersmith goat. Eugene glared at the twenty- nine monitors of goat love, floating red chubby hearts and Cupid with a compound bow and lots of arrows, then he and Vicky high-fived one another behind their father’s back while he gazed once more at Justin’s computer animation.
Justin’s fingers tap-danced across keyboards. He deleted another goat screensaver and set it back to the original portrait of Principal Hammersmith’s stony face sternly guarding the entrance of St. Ignatius. More clicks, another computer, another step closer to undoing his creation. His father walked over to the window and his voice rose as he spoke to Vicky.
“It would be one thing if his disrespect was limited to the school, but . . .” He yanked the curtains wide open and pointed at the athletic field. The computer lab famous goat love played on the new billboard-sized screen looming over the football stadium. And at Main Street’s busy intersection. And on Interstate Five.
“This is an offense punishable by a year of kitchen duty.”
Justin’s father bobbed his head back and forth in that parental duck-neck way.
“I’m not even going to ask how you accomplished that.”
“It helps to know the operator.”
“You mean an adult helped you do that?”
“Yeah. A guy who works here at the school who operates the billboard liked it too. He downloaded The Love Hammer’s-”
“It’s the file name! Okay, Hammersmith. He had him as a teacher when he was in school, before Mr. Hammersmith became principal. Anyway, he wanted to pay me for the file of the screen saver image he saw in the lab.”
“You received money for that?” his father asked outraged. “No. I gave it to him for free.”
The veins in Mr. Andrews’ thin neck stood out in vivid ridges.
“Ah, come on, Dad, you know The Hammer, I mean Mr. Hammersmith had it in for me. It’s just not fair what he did to me.”
“You still need to have some respect for authority, Justin. Do you really believe your revenge was justified? That any revenge is justified? What if someone had done that to your mom’s picture?”
“No fair.” The words sank into a dark place within Justin’s mind where rationality always triumphed over emotion, and his breath caught. “Yeah, no, I was wrong, I’m sorry.”
“You’d better be sorry, though that’s not a big help now!” Mr. Andrews stopped pacing, leaned in and whispered, “I have to pay to have the whole newsletter reprinted and I still need to buy groceries. Do you want to know where the cash is coming from? Remember that allowance you had?”
Vicky’s slouch perked straight up. “Newsletter? What newsletter?”
“Justin put an obituary of Principal Hammersmith in the school’s newsletter.”
“Those weren’t supposed to get mailed. Besides, I’m writing a letter of apology, and you’ve got to admit,” he gestured to the bouquets, “the school did receive a lot of flowers. Aren’t they beautiful?” Justin smiled nervously then returned to de-goating the computer lab.
“You’re lucky they’re not going to expel you!”
Vicky raised a challenging pierced eyebrow. “The reason Justin wasn’t expelled was because of the special grants this school receives. His high test scores sure bumped up the school average. They’re not going to get rid of him.”
Mr. Andrews sighed and rubbed his face. “Maybe your Mom and I shouldn’t have let them put Justin two Grades ahead.”
“But he still gets straight A’s, Dad. Academics aren’t the issue. It’s Mom.”
“He still needs to learn discipline.”
“Come on now, it’s tough for Justin. Put yourself in his place. He’s only thirteen. Most of the other guys are already sixteen. They give him a hard time.”
“I’m almost fourteen, and I can take care of myself.” Justin puffed up as one more pair of amorous goats disappeared.
“He misses Mom,” Vicky sighed. “We all miss Mom. Don’t be so hard on him.”
Mr. Andrews’ cell phone played a disco jingle. He sighed before answering, “Eugene Andrews. Yes Ma’am. Sales projections ready by tonight. Fine.”
Vicky winced and gave a pained expression as the call ended.
“Look, I have to get back to work before I get fired,” Mr. Andrews said to Vicky and blew a heavy sigh. He straightened his tie, and picked lint off his sleeve as he crossed the room.
“As for you, young man,” Mr. Andrews said looking back at Justin, “you’ll receive your punishment tonight after dinner.” Dad slammed the classroom door behind him.
A vision of stacks of dirty dishes and a lonely soapy sink hovered in Justin’s mind. “I know Dad’s going to ground me until I’m eligible for Medicare. After I finish changing these screen savers I’m going to the park. I need to be alone.”
Vicky patted him on the shoulder. “If I want to find you, you’ll be in your tree, right?”
K-9 Cop: Case #1 The Dreck Report by Erna Mueller is a cute, funny, laugh-out-loud mystery that my tween and I both enjoyed. This story has something for everyone – a great mystery, humor and endearing characters that make you want more. Not to mention a dog. 😉 This book is a great YA fantasy/mystery read that I recommend to both upper middle grade/young adult readers as well as those who enjoy reading in that genre. This is a good story to read together with a teen/tween and enjoy together. It was fun and well worth the read – I look forward to more cases with K-9 Cop!
About the Author
I was born in Austria and my family immigrated to the U.S. I loved living here as a child and considered the U.S. my home. My family returned to Austria and of course I had to tag along. I missed the friendly faces and the cultivation of the free spirit which America symbolizes. In Austria I completed my education but always wanted to return, so here I am.
I traveled the world and lived in many exciting cities such as Paris, Munich and London. I currently work as an accountant for a large pizza company in Seattle by day and passionately pursue a career as a writer in my spare time.
My new book, “K-9 Cop”, is adapted from my multi-national award winning screenplay. The book has won several awards including first place in the 2009 National Good Read Competition sponsored by awomenswrite.com.
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