"This fascinating mystery, merging past and present, brings some little-known history to light and shows that laws change much faster than attitudes..." Booklist
Things are slow at the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency. So when Nakayla Robertson suggests a mushroom hunt at the historic, freed-slave commune The Kingdom of the Happy Land, Sam Blackman reluctantly agrees. Hunting the elusive edible, he stumbles into a rotting log...with a skeleton hidden inside. He's intrigued, but local authorities tell him to butt out.
Then Marsha Montgomery comes to Asheville asking Sam and Nakayla to investigate a 45-year-old burglary at her mother's home. Someone stole a rifle and a photograph taken in 1932 at The Kingdom of the Happy Land. Is this just a coincidence?
Then Marsha's 85-year-old mother Lucille is arrested for murder, and Sam knows something is amiss. Is the skeleton that of Jimmy Lang, Lucille's lover and Martha's father, a white man who disappeared in 1967? A veil of betrayal and deceit hides a killer desperate to protect a dark secret, and not even Sam is safe from the deadly consequences of a murder in passing.
About the Author
Mark de Castrique grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina where many of his novels are set. He's a veteran of the television and film production industry, has served as an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte teaching The American Mystery, and he's a frequent speaker and workshop leader. He and his wife, Linda, live in Charlotte, North Carolina. www.markdecastrique.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.