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Carl BrookinsBefore he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Brookins was a freelance photographer, a Public Television program director, a Cable TV administrator, and a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has reviewed mystery fiction for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and for Mystery Scene Magazine. His reviews appear at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Internet sites, on his own web site, Books n' Bytes, and on the popular news group, DorothyL. Several authors with blogs carry his reviews as well. Brookins is an avid recreational sailor. With his wife and friends he has sailed in many locations across the world. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

Brookins writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney, the Sean Sean private investigator detective series, and the Jack Marston academic series. He has five novels in print along with a number of short stories.

Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a Masters degree in Communications at Michigan State University. He is married with two grown daughters and lives with his wife Jean, a retired publisher and editor in Roseville, Minnesota.

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The Case of the Purloined Painting by Carl BrookinsWhen an American Army unit arrived at the end of the World War II, some soldiers appropriated items in what appeared to be abandoned circumstances. A small painting by a mid-level Polish painter is used by an ex-GI to float a bank loan which results in the founding of a manufacturing firm in Minneapolis. Now the painting and the ledger become the center of murderous attempts by the descendants of the veteran to conceal the painting’s journey. World-wide efforts at repatriation of stolen art from World War II is a major ongoing effort and the story links to that effort as international operatives descend on the Twin Cities. Enter private detective Sean Sean. He is a short but effective operative who, unlike many PIs of the modern era, doesn’t sleep around, doesn’t shoot people unnecessarily, and has many friends among various local law enforcement agencies.

Buy The Case of the Purloined Painting at: | Once Upon A Crime | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


coverThe skinny on Minnesota is that it's the Land of Nice. Nice cities, nice towns, nice folks. A good place to be born, a good place to grow up, a good place to marry and raise a family.

It's also, if you believe the fifteen tales told in this collection, a good place to die.

Once again, The Minnesota Crime Wave brings you stories of mayhem and murder by some of Minnesota's finest mystery writers (William Kent Krueger, Jess Lourey, Rich Thompson, Lois Greiman, Mary Logue, Pat Dennis, David Housewright, Elizabeth Gunn, Judith Borger, Joel Arnold, Lori L. Lake, Michael Allen Mallory, Marilyn Victor, Carl Brookins, and Ellen Hart), plus an introduction by National Book Award-winning author Pete Hautman. These short pieces are prefect for a quiet evening cozied up in front of the fireplace or to share around a flickering campfire. Some of them will scare you. Some may make you cringe. A few might bring a smile to your lips. All of them, we guarantee, will put to rest forever the myth of Minnesota Nice.

Buy Fifteen Tales at: | Once Upon A Crime | Barnes & Noble


Red SkyMary Whitney and Tanner embark on a romantic sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands. During a quick swim, Tanner finds three hundred dollar bills floating beside their charter. Contact with the authorities leads to confusion and murder of a local Treasury agent. Believing Tanner has stolen millions of dollars from a smuggling cartel, Tanner is kidnapped by the cartel to force him to reveal the location of the missing money. Mary goes on a frantic quest to save both Tanner and herself. With help from a young secret Service agent, Hilda Martin, Mary offers herself as bait in an attempt to rescue her husband and trap the killers. In the violent final confrontation at sea, Mary pits her sailing skills against a powerful motor yacht and Hilda Martin is forced into a frightening gun battle with the enemy.

Buy Red Sky at: | | Once Upon A Crime


ReunionWhen ordinary folks gather for a high school class reunion, they don't expect to become murder targets.

In early spring, Jack Marston and his companion Lori Jacobs are still finding their way into their relationship, while Jack is learning more of the idiosyncrasies of his position at City College. A letter arrives with a fateful invitation. Classmates in the town of Riverview are organizing a major reunion of Lori's high school graduating class.

Lori persuades Jack to accompany her on this summer journey into her past. The first evening is well under way when one of Lori's classmates is discovered brutally murdered in a field behind the very restaurant where the opening night festivities are going on.

In the ensuing investigation, Marston and Lori discover that the small community in Western Minnesota is not as placid as it appears. They become targets of a vicious group of insiders who will apparently stop at nothing to remain concealed. Meanwhile, who is killing off the graduates?

Buy Reunion at: | | Omni-Lit
Also available as a trade paperback from Once Upon A Crime


The Case of the Great Train RobberyDiminutive P.I. Sean Sean is attacked in a suburban back yard when he unearths an old stash of cash and a weapon. Trying to discover the source of the money, Sean is led on a dangerous trail of conspiracy, corruption and long-delayed justice. The Case of the Great Train Robbery is loosely based on a ninety-year-old Railway Express train heist in South Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Buy The Case of the Great Train Robbery ebook at:
Also available as a trade paperback from Once Upon A Crime or from the author:


Devils IslandLake Superior has called Mary Whitney once more to its shores. Largest of the Great Lakes, Superior is home to many legends and Mary wants to explore some of them.

She flies east alone to become acquainted with her chartered sailboat in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Her intent is for some relaxing solo sailing and a few day communing with the lake before her husband, Michael Tanner, joins her. She will visit most of the Apostle Islands at her whim and as weather allows. The island that draws her highest interest is the one shrouded in the greatest mystery.

Aptly named, Devils Island is isolated and lacks a protected anchorage. No one lives on the island and even National Park employees rarely visit. Due to its geologic foundation, unceasing action of the water has formed great caves that emit sonorous moans and booming sounds when the waves and wind are just right.

Neither Mary nor her husband are aware that Mary's ex-husband, Edwin Tobias, a wealthy hedge fund operator and corporate raider, has been tracking her movements and is now searching the lake, drawing ever tighter his dangerous net. It is there, off the rocky foggy coast of Devils Island, that Mary meets the ultimate challenge of her life.

She is captured by a powerful and deranged man who plans her ultimate death. With no hope of outside rescue, Mary faces a situation that requires every mental ability she possesses, and all her skill and physical resources, to save her life and protect her boat. Mary is tested to the extreme to retain hope and to survive this violent confrontation with her ex-husband. It's a contest in which only one will survive.

Buy Devils Island at:
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The Case of the Deceiving DonDiminutive Minneapolis private investigator Sean NMI Sean is bright, charming and physical only when necessary. At 5'2" he's too short to be acceptable to a police force. He is impatient with oppressive regulation, has a taste for both elegance and mundane pleasures, and a cautious willingness to occasionally be a white knight. He is proficient in self-defense and capable with several weapons. But he's not Mike Hammer or Travis McGee and recognizes that flight is often his most aggressive move. Sean is a fan and a student of crime fiction. He uses classic and modern detective novels as his training manuals. He frequently attracts the interest of taller women, and he is involved romantically with a wealthy woman who owns a school of massage and is a practicing masseuse. She stands six-three in her stocking feet.

His quirky attitude toward life serves him well. When his favorite shoemaker announced they were retiring a certain shoe, he ran out and bought 700 pairs of red tennis shoes with white soles.

Sean is approached by a woman of obvious quality. Intrigued because she has been recommended by a powerful local attorney, Ephraim Harcourt Saint Martin, with whom Sean has less than cordial relations, he tries to find out who and what the woman is, but she resists and abruptly leaves. He shrugs off the meeting until the police call him to identify her body in the morgue. There he learns her name, Magda Bryce, wife of one of the St. Martin firm's attorneys.

Sean is assaulted in his home and warned to stay away from Bryce and her family. This sends him to the offices of Harcourt, St. Martin, Bryce, Bryce, et cetera, where Sean satisfies himself that Saint Martin was unaware of Magda's visit, but something is going on.

Sean gradually discovers that he is mixed up with a dark secret hidden deep inside one of the most prestigious law firms in Minneapolis and that the firm is willing to go to great lengths to keep the information hidden.

Assault and more murders follow as Sean probes ever deeper into the soft underbelly of the secret lives of wealthy attorneys in the firm until he is finally able to demonstrate what is often said about Sean NMI Sean. He may be short, but he's very good at his job.

"Carl Brookins provides a fresh new slant to the genre of hardboiled PIs, as Sean NMI Sean reminds us that dynamite comes in small packages. Great plotting, interesting characters, and excellent pacing make The Case of the Greedy Lawyers a real winner that you won't be able to put down."
—Michael A. Black, author of A Killing Frost, Windy City Knights, and The Heist

"The Case of the Greedy Lawyers is a sly tribute to the P. I. genre. Its protagonist, Sean Sean, fulfils all the requirements—he's a wisecracking solo practitioner with fast feet and a quick wit. He keeps his guns clean and his Lady satisfied. By the time he deciphers the who-dunnit, it's clear he's accurate when he insists, 'I'm good.' To which I have to add that author Carl Brookins is very good."
—Michael Allen Dymmoch, author of The Fall and the Thinnes/Caleb mysteries

The Case of the Greedy Lawyers can be ordered from Once Upon a Crime. It is also available from, Barnes & Noble or


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