A Murder in Passing (Sam Blackman Series #4)

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Overview

In Asheville, North Carolina, the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency faces a disturbing reality ? no clients. Sam Blackman finds inactivity intolerable. So when partner Nakayla Robertson suggests a mushroom hunt on the site of an historic, freed-slave commune called The Kingdom of the Happy Land, Sam reluctantly agrees. When he stumbles across a skeleton, his adventure mushrooms into a case of murder. But it isn?t his...

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Overview

In Asheville, North Carolina, the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency faces a disturbing reality – no clients. Sam Blackman finds inactivity intolerable. So when partner Nakayla Robertson suggests a mushroom hunt on the site of an historic, freed-slave commune called The Kingdom of the Happy Land, Sam reluctantly agrees. When he stumbles across a skeleton, his adventure mushrooms into a case of murder. But it isn’t his case. He has no client, and the local authorities tell him to butt out.
 
Then Marsha Montgomery comes to the office asking Sam and Nakayla to investigate a burglary at her mother’s home. Someone stole a rifle and a photograph of Marsha’s mother, grandmother, and great grandmother taken in 1932 by renowned photographer Doris Ulmann. The site of the photograph is The Kingdom of the Happy Land. The date of the burglary, 1967. Marsha’s visit is no coincidence. Sam’s being played. But why?
 
When Marsha’s eighty-five-year-old mother Lucille is arrested for murder, Sam has his answer and his case.  Is the skeleton that of Jimmy Lang, Marsha’s white father and her mother’s lover, who disappeared in 1967 right after interracial couples were allowed to marry in North Carolina? Jimmy’s brother says no. Jimmy left to seek his fortune after Lucille rejected his marriage proposal. But others stood to gain from his disappearance. A veil of betrayal and deceit hides a killer desperate to protect a dark secret, and no one, not even Sam, is safe from the deadly consequences of a murder in passing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/07/2013
De Castrique's well-crafted fourth mystery (after 2011's The Sandburg Connection) featuring Ashville, N.C., PI Sam Blackman and partner/lover Nakayla Robertson explores America's past history of racial segregation. Sam, on a mushroom hunt with members of the Blue Ridge Mushroom Club, stumbles into a rotten log and discovers a skeleton inside. Called to the scene, Henderson County Deputy Sidney Overcash finds a rifle slug nearby. Meanwhile, a new client, Marsha Montgomery, hires Sam and Nakayla to investigate a very cold case—the 1967 theft of a photograph of the Kingdom of the Happy Land, a 19th-century community of former slaves, founded on the site where the skeleton was found. The mystery proves to involve the interracial, and then illegal, romance between Martha's mother, Lucille Montgomery, and the long-missing Jimmy Lang. This solid whodunit offers readers a glimpse into a curious chapter of cultural history. Agent: Linda Allen, Linda Allen Literary Agency. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781464201493
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Series: Sam Blackman Series , #4
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark de Castrique is the author of the critically acclaimed Barry Clayton and Sam Blackman mystery series, both set in his native North Carolina mountains. He is also the author of the D.C. political thriller, The 13th Target, as well as mysteries for Young Adults.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Blackman-Robertson mysteries are rooted in South Carolina hi

    The Blackman-Robertson mysteries are rooted in South Carolina history. In previous novels, such landmarks as Carl Sandburg’s farm played a role. Other links included Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this book, it is a photo taken 80 years before by a famous woman photographer, Doris Ulmann, the subjects of which were three blacks, mother, daughter and five-year-old Marsha Montgomery, and some boys. Marsha retains Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson to find the photo which she claims was stolen from her mother’s home, along with a rifle, in 1932. That is the first plot twist of many that lie ahead, before the truth is revealed.

    The mystery involves the identity of a skeleton which Sam inadvertently uncovers when he trips, crashing into a rotted log while hunting for mushrooms. Racial attitudes in the South play a prominent role in the novel. Sam is white, Nakayla is black. Not only are they partners in the detective agency bearing their names, but lovers as well. Marsha’s 85-year-old mother is black, but had a white lover, Jimmy Lang, who fathered Marsha. He also was in the supposedly valuable photo which disappeared in 1932. As did he, after his proposal of marriage was rejected for sound reasons based on local prejudices.

    This is a well-told tale that moves along swiftly, keeping the reader intrigued as it introduces nuances and new facts wending its way toward a conclusion. Written with economy and a keen eye on the socio-economic society of the post-Civil War South, the author has an excellent grasp of his subject, and the novel is recommended.

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