cover image A Murder in Passing: A Sam Blackman Mystery

A Murder in Passing: A Sam Blackman Mystery

Mark De Castrique. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (262p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0149-3

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)