Reunion: Carl Brookins
Going back to your hometown for you high school reunion should bring back some great memories and seeing old friends an added bonus. The class of 1989 is meeting for the first time in 20 years in the small town of Riverview, and hopefully will light up old friendships, see the changes in people over the years and learn what they have been up to since you left. Lori Jacobs has not been back to this small town in many years and wanting to attend her 20th year high school reunion she invites her live in boyfriend Jack Marston to attend the weekend with her. Arriving there and checking into the hotel she decides to take a ride around town to familiarize herself with some of the main spots that everyone frequents. But, sometimes things do not take on that positive turn and before anyone can eat dessert and enjoy fully enjoy the evening one of the graduates is found dead. With Jack finding the body and the sheriff asking him to keep it quiet author Carl Brookins flashes back to the event as it begins, the attendees, the dinner and then the revelation that Elroy Guteman was found brutally impaled on an old rusty piece of farm equipment which is called tines. Looking at the dead body would make anyone cough up their dinner and Jack was told to keep it quiet and that was from Lori too. The author takes us back to where it all began and how they were invited, who they might meet, the people, the businesses and the local color as they made their way to this reunion. Lori has mixed feelings about the town and seeing different people brought back different memories and meeting the local color and people that live here in this small town you begin to get an eerie feeling that something shady and underhanded is going on but what? Then the murder takes center stage in this small town and everyone begins to speculate the reasons why anyone would kill someone so nice as Elroy. Introducing him to Elroy Guteman, Lori’s closest friend Terry Worckowki, Marge McMenny and others you begin to wonder what these people are hiding and when you hear them talk you will wonder why she even came to this reunion as these three and others seem to discount and ignore that she is there. Georgina owns the 40- Mile Club where this event is taking place and where they are having their meals. But, hardly anyone pays attention to them, until something changes. Looking at many of the landmarks, and reacquainting herself with her old town and stop at the place where one of her friends took a dare and thinking that she could have done more to stop him. It is a creek where he was dared to jump in and lost his life. What would you do if you saw two people underwater having some real romantic fun? Let’s focus on the murder as the sheriff enters the main room where dinner is served and announces the death of Elroy. Jack is handsome and Lori realizes that many of her fellow graduates take more than just a passing interest in him while others comment on the fact that they are not married and living together in other words get with the times! Now, the murder takes center stage and Lori is questioned and the sheriff reminds her that she was approached by someone making a pass at her and did she enjoy the attention? Sometimes people think they have to prove their worth by doing something dangerous just to prove to others they are not weak. Tony, another friend tried to save him but to no avail. But, someone wants to put more of a damper on this reunion and although Elroy is gone they all bundle into an old school bus for a barbeque at the farm of banker Kronk. So, who wanted to kill his daughter Edith? Another body found and when the sheriff feels he might be in over his head he realizes that Jack is a former Navy criminal investigator and asks him to join in to help find the killers. Resources limited any help he can give him would be appreciated but Lori is not thrilled but joins in the investigation with him asking questions of many of the people at the reunion and the town hoping they will answer her questions more readily. Questioning some of the residents they learn from Marge about loans that were owed by her family they also learn when speaking to Georgina how she came to own part of the 40 Mile High and a man named Carmichael that she did the books for. Learning that he had two sets of books, poker games, gambling and other illegal activities helped her situation when getting part of the place. Since her father was a tightwad and did not give her anything freely, this was and is her chance for something of her own. Jack once an NCIC investigator is now a director of student services in Minneapolis at the City College. But, it’s quite evident to those he speaks with that he has great skills at weeding out truths and lies and that many of those that they speak with are hiding something that might help them solve the case. Coming to Stacy Frommer, who was seeing Elroy for a while but did not go to the banquet because she did not want to encounter his wife. Lori is a psychologist and great at getting to the core of what lies beneath the walls and roads of this farming community. Sheriff Arnason appears to be honest but Jack holds back some of what he learns until he is sure who side everyone is on. The truth about how Georgina came to own the club, the hidden lies and betrayals behind it, hidden or silent partners behind the buy and why she owns it. But, someone does not want Lori and Jack to remain in Riverview and when they return to their room, they find the police there because someone broke into their room looking for something yet nothing was taken. So, where are the notes he took for this case, did they take it and if not he better not leave them in the room again unattended?
A small community which looks charming on the outside but beneath the veneer are lies, deceits, deceptions and someone out to silence anyone that gets in his/her way to reveal a secret that must remain hidden. A small town where everyone knows everyone’s business and gossip reigns. Murders, a burglary, going to the house of Terry and Ada shots are fired off while leaving and who is behind it all and the corruption that riddles this town? Things spiral out of control even further as the link to the death of Ron Larson might prove to not be an accident on the road that sent his truck careening in the wrong direction but murder. Bank deals that were way below the law, guns shooting at them, cover-ups, characters that would lie to your face and stab you in the back if you are not careful, and a small town that seems like the death capital of the world.
When finally putting the pieces together Lori and Jack find an abandon barn and what they find reveals a scheme that leads back to the murder of Ron Larson. Elroy and Tessa were seeing each other and they found bank files in this old barn hidden away hoping no one would find them But, there were four and what he hears if that there were three where was the other one and who had it and why?
Boxes that were moldy filled with old papers that most would not touch but someone was profiting from what they found. Ron carried the boxes into the barn and read over some of the old files in the folders. Johnny Houck, the banker, his father, Dick Borken, Josh Martin and Ed Tomlinson the lawyer were in on this real estate and bank loan scheme. The link is Georgina but I won’t explain why as you hear her voice when all the pieces come together and Lori is kidnapped by those behind the murder and you won’t believe you and why? A phone call telling him she is kidnapped and the demand for the files as her ransom will he with the help of the Sheriff and some others get there in time? Lori witnessed something way back when and the end result is she is being blamed for something she and others did not do. The ending makes you wonder what their final fate is and whether she survives what the kidnappers have planned. Just who witnesses Ron Larson’s death? Who killed him and why? Surprises of all kinds and twists you won’t expect as once again author Carl Brookins steers readers in a roller coaster ride in a town that you might think twice or three times before visiting as you never know what could happen if you like Lori decides to accept an invitation to you high REUNION!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine