Having read all of Carl Brookins’ novels and some of his short story work, I was thrilled to learn that he had a new book coming out. True, it wasn’t the personally eagerly awaited sequel to “The Case of the Greedy Lawyers” but still it was a Carl Brookins book which meant it would be good. Releasing this month from Echelon Press this is a book you have to get your hands on.

Bloody Halls

By Carl Brookins


Echelon Press


Large Trade Paperback

ISBN# 1-59080-570-4

260 Pages


As Director of the Office of Student Life at City College of Minneapolis located in a number of buildings scattered across downtown Minneapolis, Jack Marston knows dealing with older adult students is going to be different and a challenge. This isn’t the normal college experience just because it is a campus-less college. The student population demographic is of older students juggling busy lives and careers, family responsibilities, and other issues with a college schedule. Then too there have been serious problems in the recent past with the Office of Student Life and it is Jack Marston’s job to lead the office forward and through his staff provide strong support services.

Along the way he has found time to begin building a relationship with Lori, a young lady in another department. There are issues their as well and they are trying to keep things as quiet as possible. Not because they are doing anything wrong but because people will talk and gossip can kill your career in a heartbeat in the world of academia.

Jack Marston has also found the time to indulge in his desire to act on stage. The College will be presenting Ibsen’s play, “Enemy of the People” and as Ibsen is a personal favorite, Marston is hoping for some minor role after he auditions. Instead, the young bitter director from the University across town selects him for the major role as Dr. Stockman, the enemy of the people. Marston knows he is overmatched and he also knows he has absolutely no way of getting out of it.

The same is true when the President of the College, Arthur Trammel assigns him the role of police liaison after a student is found murdered and dumped in the lobby of the theater. While Jack Marston would have had some contact possibly with the media once the story gets out, President Arthur Trammel expects him to do far more. Tapped for being discreet and with a mandate to assist the police with their investigation any way possible so that they quickly close the case as there is a fund drive and other issues at stake, Marston has no choice and must accept his new role for however long it takes. When not working on his role in the play, Marston plays his other role of investigator and starts with the troubling fact that the entire record of the deceased student has vanished from the computer system. If he can figure out who did it and why that might point him in the direction of who committed the murder as opposed to the Police who seem to going in other directions. As the days turn into weeks and another death rocks the campus, Marston is led down a trail of lies, office politics, perversion and murder, until a violent confrontation in a snowstorm just outside his office puts everything he has worked for at risk.

Featuring some cutting humor about the joys of working at intuitions of higher learning, this cozy style mystery steadily ratchets up the suspense factor. Jack Marston has more than a cynical thought or two about higher education and his role in it and readers familiar with the subject area will find themselves often nodding in agreement.

Couple that with an engaging writing style that quickly pulls readers into a world populated with interesting real life characters, a constantly changing mystery full of expected and unexpected twists, and plenty of action as Jack Marston gets out and gets his hands dirty investigating, this read is a real treat to start off the year. As in his other books and short stories, Author Carl Brookins, a member of the Minnesota Crime Wave, shows a real talent for storytelling.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2007

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