Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Fitzgerald Ruse-Mark de Castrique

The Fitzgerald Ruse
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Aug 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9781590586297

In Asheville, North Carolina, lovers former U.S. military CID Chief Warrant officer Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson are opening up a detective agency. Their first client elderly Ethel Barkley hires them to retrieve a lockbox she claims holds a valuable F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscript as she wants to rectify what she did when she was young and stole it from his estate.

Sam and Nakayla take the sealed box bringing it to their office. Not long afterward, someone breaks into their office, kills a security guard and steals the box. Both sleuths are stunned and wonder whether the theft and murder might be connected to a conspiracy to keep concealed a 1930s era American fascist organization that if revealed would destroy some reputations. As an alternate supposition the pair considers the premise that rogue mercenaries want pay back for the bounty they feel Sam stole from them in Iraq; the injury to his leg that lead to amputation and the end of his military career apparently is not enough. However the case spins further out of control when someone kills their client.

The second Blackman-Robertson private investigative tale (see BLACKMAN’S COFFIN) is a superb mystery with several fascinating subplots. Enhancing the exciting entry is the lead sleuths whose teasing manner seems genuine as one would expect of professional teammates who respect each other. THE FITZGERALD RUSE as the prime case adds a literary feel to a delightful thriller.

Harriet Klausner