The Sandburg Connection (The Sam Blackman Mysteries)
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen Press (2011)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (8/11)
The Sam Blackman series continues in “The Sandburg Connection” at a favorable pace when Sam is the first one to come upon the suspicious death of Professor Janice Wainright on Glassy Mountain. Sam and Nakayla Robertson, his partner, were already working on an unrelated case involving the Professor…or was it? Time will tell if it was actually unrelated.
Sam is determined to find out whether the fall was accidental or murder. Of course, being the first one to come upon the Professor after her fall he becomes the prime suspect. He is soon cleared and able to move on with the investigation. A break-in into her home and the theft of the Sandburg volumes influences his suspicions as he reflects on the Professor’s last words he heard, before she died, referencing the Sandburg verses.
The story moves at a slow and bearable pace, bringing various characters into the fold. Author de Castrique’s character development and first person writing pulls the reader into the story with much success. I felt as though I was listening to Sam talking to me and telling me the story. The writing is brilliant and storyline is very encompassing.
The story sped up to become a page-turner in the last four chapters and I found myself reading at a faster pace, drawn into the final chapters of anticipating who the “who-dun-it” character was. The way the story flowed it could have been a number of different suspects, but in the end I was even surprised. Of course, reflecting back now there were hints but they were so well hidden in the writing that it was hard to foresee.
“The Sandburg Connection” is a shining example of excellent writing and, if you like a good murder mystery, I have no problem recommending it. I’m looking forward to the continuation of the Sam Blackman series that take place in and around the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.