A Murder In Passing
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
In Asheville, North Carolina, Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson have no clients. Sam is bored so Nakayla suggests they close the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency for the day and go on a mushroom hunt on the historic Kingdom of the Happy Land. Thinking this venture will increase his ennui, Sam goes anyway. Sam finds human skeletal remains on the freed-slave commune property. Henderson County Sheriff Deputy Overcash, who hates Sam for solving a case of his, warns the two private investigators to stay out of their inquiry; though jurisdiction may belong to Greenville County, South Carolina as the boundary is right at the hollow log containing the corpse.
Marsha Montgomery arrives at the office of Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency wanting to hire Sam and Nakayla to investigate a burglary at her mother Lucille’s home in 1967. She explains someone stole a rifle and a photograph of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother taken in 1932 at The Kingdom of the Happy Land by famous photographer Doris Ulmann. The police arrest African-American octogenarian Lucille for the murder of her white lover Jimmy Lang over forty years ago. Sam and Nakayla investigate the cold case murder.
The fourth B & R mystery (see The Sandburg Connection, Blackman’s Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse) is an engaging investigative whodunit with the artist being the famous Appalachia photographer rather than a writer. Fast-paced from the moment Sam finds a body and never slowing down even with some repetitive back story, fans will enjoy this tale that links several decades at a place where former slaves created The Kingdom of the Happy Land.