The Case of the Stolen Case by Carl Brookins

IT’s been so warm this fall some of our routines have been seriously disrupted. For example, this morning, very early, I crawled through the raised garden at the end of our garage to reach the eaves over the door to the basement. I had noted the previous day the gutter was filled with oak and maple leaves. So I cleaned out the gutter. That usually happens in late October or early November!

Whilst cleaning I recalled that my wife had suggested it was time—past time – to mix up my annual batch of spaghetti sauce. Especially since we had recently used up the last jar of last year’s batch, and would I please make it a little sweeter and not so spicy hot this year. That’s a nod to our aging tastes.

And then, she continued, since you like meat chili so much, try cooking up a batch. That suggestion comes from a recent book event. Grand Master Ellen Hart and I made a presentation to a large and enthusiastic bunch of readers a few weeks ago. We were helping a small Wisconsin town with its annual fund-raiser for the library. They served chili. Wonderful, tasty chili. I raved and my wife urged me to cook some. Workin’ on it.

While cleaning the leaves from the gutter, I began to consider what supplies I might need from the grocery store. I decided to cook upon finishing the gutter, but I needed a hooked tool, like the head of an old cane, I thought. That reminded me of the elaborate and valuable cane I encountered a few weeks ago in Wisconsin. It was in the hands of a stooped, gnarled older gentleman. Knowing a bit about canes, I recognized that this Wisconsin cane was seriously valuable and I also realized that the cane and its owner could appear in a future story. 

Later in the kitchen while browning the hamburger and opening cans of tomato sauce, preparing to cook the sauce for a day, the voice of the old cane came to me and I learned how its silver-clad tip had once been sullied by a previous owner. He’d dented the skull of a rival farmer, a farmer who died that day on the boardwalk. I diced onion, sprinkled spices and opened cans of sauce, tasting the cold juice to be sure it was still good. But I also heard the voice of the cane as it explained to me what it felt, the jolt and the tremor when the silver nob cracked the skull and killed that other man. The cane never forgot, it said.

I salted, tasted, minced and fried, and then, as the voice of the cane inside my head faded, set the big pot to the warming part of the stove to cook all day. I needed supplies for the chili I would create and needed to find out how the cane had survived all those years with the blood of the victim still secreted in the crevices of the wooden stick.

This all has nothing directly to do with my latest release The Case of the Stolen Case, in which Sean is drawn more deeply than he wants into an old unsolved murder, but it does have to do very much with the way some of us conjure up our stories. Happy reading. 

Bio and links for 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.


Buy links:
The Case of the Yellow Diamond


Fun post, and I love to make (and eat) chili with meat in it. Actually what I make is chili beans. I like to add green bell peppers, lots of onions, and tomato chunks rather than tomato sauce. Chili powder adds a great flavor too and of course garlic. Miss seeing you at Mayhem in the Midlands and other places. Got to see Kent Krueger and his wife when he came to the Manteca book fest. I don't do any flying anymore.
Jackie Houchin said…
Wow.... I love how your mind works. Everyday, and special experiences always making it look to the mystery, the crime, how to work it and solve it. I do that too, I just realized, but now I am going to be more aware of it.
Happy spaghetti and chili cooking and eating... and mystery crafting. Now, I wonder what inspired the flaming suitcase? hahahaha
carl said…
Thanks, Jackie. I don't know about the flaming suitcase, although I have to admit, using home fires in my stories has come u;p as possible several times.

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