Mark De Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Jun 2008, $24.95
Former US Army Criminal Investigation Detachment Chief Warrant officer Sam Blackman lost his leg in Iraq. However that is not what has outraged him; instead his medical treatment in the states has been shabby and he has said no more. More to keep him out of the DC limelight, the VA transfer Sam to the Veteran’s Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
At the VA Sam meets fellow amputee former marine Tikima Robertson who offers the despondent ex-soldier an opportunity to use his CID skills if he can stop the self-pity crap. However, before he can respond, someone murders Tikima; her body left floating in a nearby river. Tikima’s sister, Nakayla asks Sam to find her sibling’s killer. She gives him a 1919 journal that Tikima found that contains the musing of twelve-year-old white child Henderson Youngblood whose father was a funeral director; his dad Travis was assisting Negro Elijah Robertson transport a corpse for burial in a family plot in Georgia. In 2008 Elijah’s body was found in the French Broad River near the same place where his great-great granddaughter Tikima’s corpse was found.
The1919 diary entries that appear throughout the super story line seem a bit mature for a preadolescent even for a child whose dad works with death and grief, but still well written in terms of an exciting look at Asheville in the early twentieth century. The two murder mysteries are fun to follow with both tied to post war people and racially terse overtones. Throw in some Thomas Wolfe to the mix as well as a bitter angry vet as the lead and whodunit fans will enjoy Sam’s efforts to solve a modern day and nine decade old murders.