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Flying Crows

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jim Lehrer's Tension City.

With Flying Crows, veteran newsman and bestselling author Jim Lehrer has written his most powerful novel, a work that moves masterfully from past to present and back again to solve the mystery that is American mayhem.

In 1997, police discover an old homeless man in the Kansas City train station. “Birdie Carlucci” claims he has lived there since 1933, hiding out in the storeroom of a Harvey House restaurant. Kansas City cop Lieutenant Randy Benton decides to discover the truth behind Birdie’ s tale—and finds himself on a ride that leads ever backward into our country’s bloodstained past.

Benton’s investigation reveals the story of young Birdie, incarcerated in a brutal insane asylum where the preferred method of treatment is beating with a baseball bat. In that hopeless environment, though, he’s befriended by another patient, Josh Lancaster, once dismissed as a lost cause but snatched back from the brink by a compassionate doctor. But what is the secret of Lancaster’s involvement in an infamous Civil War encounter between Confederate bushwhackers and Union soldiers? And what truly happened after Birdie escaped from the asylum on the famous Flying Crow train?

As Benton returns to the present day, he wonders: How much, if any of it, really took place? What were the true public and private traumas of these two troubled men who can’t forget what they’ve seen or merely imagined?

Inspired by real events, Flying Crows is a novel that moves as inexorably as a train in the night to a shattering conclusion—one that reveals the many meanings of imprisonment and escape, and all the eccentricities and tragedies of the American soul.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 02, 2004 – A Kansas City police detective tries to untangle the curious pasts of two asylum patients in this touching novel about lost souls, loneliness and life's small triumphs. Lt. Randy Benton, assigned to make the final sweep of the city's long-shuttered Union Station before restoration work begins, finds an aging hermit, alive and well in a concealed room that used to be a restaurant pantry in the old railroad terminal. The hermit, Birdie Carlucci, says he's been living at the station since 1933. A railroad buff himself, Benton is stirred by Birdie's tale of "a great life" at the station as well as intrigued by the old man's account of escaping more than 60 years ago from a nearby insane asylum with a friend, Josh. Benton, working in his spare time, begins piecing together the story of the two men, a search that takes him deep into the golden age of rail travel as well as the unnerving history of the treatment of the mentally ill in the early years of the century. Both Josh and Birdie, it turns out, witnessed awful tragedies as young boys, traumas so disturbing that they wound up in the asylum, where they were routinely hit with baseball bats and threatened with electric shock therapy as well as lobotomy. Their stay served as the basis for a bond that gave each a reason to live and escape. Shifting narrators as well as settings between 1933 and 1997, Lehrer's 14th novel is an expertly researched, warmly told tale, rich in suspense and drama. The PBS newscaster (No Certain Rest) has crafted a highly personal story, quiet in tone and scope, yet booming in emotional intensity. 11-city author tour.
Flying Crows
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: May 11, 2004
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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