The Sandburg Connection
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Oct 4 2011, $24.95
The Investigative Alliance for Underwriters hires private investigators Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson to determine whether North Carolina University at Asheville Professor Janice Wainwright suffers the pain she claimed that led to her $5 million malpractice lawsuit. Wainwright is suing a spinal surgeon, his clinic, and a hospital while his malpractice insurance company believes the plaintive is faking it.
The sleuthing partners follow the professor as she travels to Flat Rock visiting Carl Sandburg's home Connemara and climbs nearby hikes Glassy Mountain. When she falls to her death, her final words to Sam who found her appear to be "Sandburg's verses." Sam believes she was murdered though the motive remains foggy at best. When an autopsy revealed her blood filled with painkillers affirming she suffered great agony, Sam and Nakayla wonder what would motivate an ailing scholar to take such an arduous trek. He feels even stronger about his homicide hypothesis after a theft and when a ranger staying with the deceased’s teenage daughter is beaten up.
This is a great literary mystery that cleverly combines Sandberg, the nineteenth century and modern day academic and family wars into a wonderful whodunit. Fans will enjoy the lead detectives as they investigate a potential homicide in their third literary regional mystery (see The Blackman’s Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse),