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Once Upon a Crime

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Traces by Carl Brookins Traces (2020, Beaver's Pond Press)

Alan Lockem is a former Army Intelligence Officer. Now retired, he looks for ways to informally help military and civilian people who are in some kind of difficulty.

Marjorie Kane is a retired exotic dancer, once a headliner who toured worldwide as Kandy Kane. She is an experienced, self-trained psychologist with high-level computer skills, and she's attracted to the sharp, tall Lockem during an encounter at a golf club.

Now Kane and Lockem have joined forces as unlicensed detectives dedicated to helping ordinary folks in fraught circumstances.

A UK colleague requests Lockem acquire a flash drive from an agent in Minneapolis. After two aborted tries, the agent is murdered in front of Lockem and Lockem’s house is burgled.

Events entangle the couple with the discovery of a supposedly dead terrorist who's still very much alive. Remnants  of past events collide with current espionage and danger for Marjorie and Alan. The couple is forced to engage local criminals and international forces before extracting themselves from danger and erasing the traces of another evil force from the world.

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Grand Lac by Carl Brookins Grand Lac (2017, Brookins Books)

When Edie Black's son, Sam, is arrested for murder, Edie calls her cousin, Marjorie Kane, in Minneapolis. Kane, a former exotic dancer, turns immediately to her partner, fellow independent special investigator, Alan Lockem. The pair are successful unlicensed investigators who specialize in unusual projects that appear to require strange solutions.

In Grand Lac, Sam Black is accused of murdering a member of a small group of investors who have purchased large lots on a mountain outside of town in northern Idaho. One dark night one of the investors, Jack Ketchum, in a drunken rage, climbed aboard a large bulldozer and carved a raw track down the mountainside destroying vegetation on the property of each of the other owners. Days later his body is discovered in a ravine on the mountain, a bullet hole in his chest.

Sam Black is a young local stock day-trader who has stumbled on some shady city officials' illegal activities. His mother, Edie, believes that may be the real reason Sam has been indicted for Ketchum's murder. Alan and Marjorie jump feet first into a strange town of guns and civic corruption in a complicated effort to save Sam from prison or worse.

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Sailing Mystery Series


A Lake Superior Mystery (2017, Brookins Books)
Revised version; book was originally published in 2002 as A Superior Mystery

Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner and his wife, Mary Whitney, sail the Apostle Islands of Northern Wisconsin. A tale of greed, old and new murder, logging history, and local color bring the power of Lake Superior front and center.

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Devils Island (2010, Brookins Books)

Mary Whitney is captured by a powerful and deranged man who plans her ultimate death. With no hope of outside rescue, she 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 this book at or at Barnes & Noble.


Old Silver (2015, Brookins Books)

Tanner and Mary Whitney are caught in a vicious web with political ramifications in Chicago, Duluth and the cold Lake Superior Waters surrounding the Apostle Islands.

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cover Red Sky (2015, Brookins Books)

Mary 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.

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Reunion by Carl Brookins The Inside Passage (2014, Brookins Books)

Murder, mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It's a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning, disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.

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Detective Series


The Case of the Greedy Lawyers (2008, Nodin Press)

Twin Cities diminutive private eye, Sean NMI Sean, takes on a powerful Minneapolis law firm in this dark tale of greed, manipulation and hi-jinks.

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The Case of the Deceiving Don (2008, Five Star Mysteries)

When Private Investigator Sean Sean arrives at his quiet suburban home near Minneapolis, Minnesota, on a summer afternoon and finds a blown up wheelchair, a body and several squad cars scattered across the street, he knows something's gotten out of hand.

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cover The Case of the Great Train Robbery (2011, Brookins Books)

Diminutive 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. Loosely based on a ninety-year-old Railway Express train heist in South Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Also available as a trade paperback from Once Upon A Crime.

The Case of the Stolen Case by Carl Brookins The Case of the Stolen Case (2012, Brookins Books)

Diminutive investigator Sean NMI Sean has a rare quiet evening at home. The peacefulness of a summer evening in Roseville is interrupted by a call from a man whom Sean does not particularly like. Salvatore Belassario invites Sean to the scene of a house fire in Saint Paul and thus begins Sean's reluctant search amid the hot ruins of a fire, an eight-year-old robbery and murder and the intrusion of a traveling band of thieves who stop at little to achieve their nefarious goals. In this fourth tale following the adventures of the urban detective, Sean slips into conflict in a case with almost every element he tries to avoid. There are rumblings of organized crime involvement, the Federal Government is looking at aspects of the case, domestic partners are at odds and the love of his life, Catherine Mckerney, becomes a target.

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The Case of the Purloined Painting by Carl Brookins The Case of the Purloined Painting (2013, North Star Press of St. Cloud)

When 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 this book at | Once Upon A Crime | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

The Case of the Yellow Diamond by Carl Brookins The Case of the Yellow Diamond (2015, North Star Press of St. Cloud)

A dead man on the floor of his office in Minneapolis won't lead P.I. Sean Sean to journey to Yap Island to protect his new client. Bombs in lawyers' cars only jostle him. This short investigator knows the value of research and asking questions in the right places. World War II, Asian diamonds and concrete in Des Moines combine to almost destroy a Minnesota family.

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Academic Series


Bloody Halls (2008, Echelon Press)

Murder and mayhem on an urban college campus!

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Reunion by Carl Brookins Reunion (2016, Brookins Books)

While still exploring their relationship, Jack Marston persuades his companion, psychologist Lori Jacobs, to attend her high school class reunion with Jack as her escort. After a classmate is discovered brutally murdered at the reunion, Jack and Lori are drawn into the search for the murderer and themselves targeted as they begin to reveal years of passion and corruption beneath the placid small-town surface of Riverview.

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Short Stories

hard cheese

Hard Cheese (2010, Brookins Books)

Short PI, Sean NMI Sean, is up for escorting his statuesque lady love to the Great Minnesota Get-together, as the State Fair is known. The annual event draws millions of folks, most regular, law-abiding types. There are many opportunities for the irregular types. Pick-pockets, grifters, hustlers and scam artists. And that's just the ordinary ones.

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Resort to Murder (2007; audio book, 2008)

Resort to Murder is an anthology of mystery stories set in Minnesota and written by Minnesota authors.

The audio book is available directly from Carl for only $12 (plus shipping & handling).

Buy Carl's Books!

Carl's books are available in mystery and other independent bookstores around the country, including Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis. Visit the links page to find out where to buy them.


© Carl Brookins.
Permission is hereby granted for reproduction of any material contained in this web site for purposes of publicity and promotion related to the sale of our books and/or appearances by Carl Brookins.