Carl Brookins – Reunion
This week, it’s my pleasure to welcome back author, Carl Brookins.
Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. 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.
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University
WHAT’S YOUR AGENDA?
Periodically I read comments on social media regarding suggested or advisable limits on what practicing authors should or should not reveal about their attitudes and feelings regarding politics and religion. Rarely do I see any comments referring to certain other topics as verboten; topics like murder, thievery, assault and other assorted crimes. Not long ago I encountered a relative not seen in a very long time. He came to dinner asking if there were certain forbidden topics we should not raise at the dinner table. I handed him a piece of paper saying, “here’s the list of forbidden topics.” The paper was blank.
Naturally, I prefer rational, informed discussions with only occasional shouting and a general absence of insulting adjectives or personal invective. But friends and relatives should be able to discuss current events and other subjects of deep or casual interest with thought and passion and not have to feel too constrained by social rules which are essentially artificial. One should also be free to write about almost any topic. And, of course, one is free to not read such materials.
So, what about books, novels, short stories and the like? When I began my career as an author of crime fiction, I was informed that we didn’t explore certain controversial topics, religion and politics being among the most prominent. Why not, I wondered?
Because, I was informed, authors who wear a beige cloak of neutrality won’t offend possible readers and thus will be more successful. While I understand that, it seems to me that an author might gain like-minded readers. On the one hand, I do not care for crime fiction which pushes a particular bias. On the other hand, a character may reveal a certain attitude which informs her or his actions in the story. In my case, readers looking for books pushing my biases will be disappointed. I almost never give characters any opportunity to voice political or religious points of view. In the rare instance where that occurs, a character’s personal bias may be in opposition to my own. Readers may infer biases to my characters should they choose to do that. They do so at their own peril. I really don’t even think about what my character’s biases are. Readers have suggested my characters’ biases to me some of which have been surprising.
My detective, Sean Sean, is generally a good guy. If he crosses the line, it is in the pursuit of good, never of evil. But has he broken the law? Indeed. Numerous times, from speeding, leaving the scene of an accident to discharging a firearm inside city limits, shooting the occasional bad guy, making threats, and engaging in burglary, assault and battery. But he has no religious bias other than to be generally skeptical.
Which devolves to the point. I don’t write my fiction to make political or social points or to try to persuade readers to my position. That isn’t my goal. My goal is to entertain, allow a reader to waste a few pleasant moments, perhaps forget pending problems. If you find an agenda or perceive a bias in my novels and stories, that’s on you and that’s OK, as far as I’m concerned.
When 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 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. And meanwhile, who is killing the graduates?
My ✰✰✰✰ Review
The past is always with us and sometimes it comes back, or so Jack Marston finds out when he and his girlfriend, Lori Jacobs, attend her class reunion in the small town of Riverview—a town with secrets galore. He’s anxious to learn more about her past, but he never realizes that delving into it would be deadly. Although Jack is retired from his former job as an investigator for the U.S. Navy, he gets pulled into the inquiries about several murders when Lori insists on finding the answers to why her former classmates are being killed.
The numerous classmates and spouses introduced to Jack once he and Lori were at the reunion were little difficult to remember and keep track of, especially if I had to leave the book and come back to it at another time. However, I must admit that as the story progressed, it got a bit easier when the murder suspects were narrowed down. The interesting thing about this novel is that there are two separate murder mysteries.
Solid personalities, believable dialog, and an interesting story kept me turning the pages.
Come and enjoy a time of conversation with author Carl Brookins as he talks about translating his sailing adventures to fiction and creating fictional characters that feel like old friends. Brookins 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.
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