The Sandburg Connection
Review: A routine tail of a woman, Janice Wainwright, suspected of insurance fraud turns into something far more complex for private investigator Sam Blackman and his partner Nakayla Robertson when the woman falls — or was pushed — from a lookout point and dies in The Sandburg Connection, the third mystery in this series by Mark de Castrique.
Her dying words are "Wendy. It's the verses. Sandburg's verses." Wendy is the woman's daughter, who immediately comes after Sam and Nakayla, believing them to have caused her mother's death. When it quickly becomes clear they want the same thing — how and why did Janice come to be climbing a steep trail with a heavy backpack — they begin to look into what Janice, a professor of history at a local university, may have been researching that may also have attracted the attention of someone else … someone who may killed her — and others — for it.
Though Carl Sandburg may be most familiarly associated with the Midwest, he spent the last 22 years of his life in North Carolina and the author uses this bit of literary history in this fine mystery. He creatively combines Sandburg's interests in songs and his wife's fame for raising prize-winning goats in such a way that it seems natural within the context of the murder investigation storyline. There's quite a bit of wry humor as well, such as the when Sam finds himself fingering the key to a farmhouse. "Goat Keep Sam Blackman," he says. "That's a title I never expected to have."
Most of the narrative involves the search for a motive, and does tend to wander a bit (though literary history buffs will never be bored by the occasional diversion into the poet's life), though in the end comes full circle to where the mystery started with the question: Was Janice Wainwright's death an accident or murder? Sam and Nakayla's investigation provides the answer … but what may be more surprising than the answer itself is that it all of the disparate parties involved seem satisfied with it, a remarkable conclusion to this well-crafted entry in a most entertaining series.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of The Sandburg Connection for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), October 2010
ISBN-13: 9781590588017; ISBN-10: 1590588010
The 13th Target
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), July 2012
ISBN-13: 9781590586150; ISBN-10: 1590586158
Location(s) referenced in The Sandburg Connection: North Carolina
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The Sandburg Connection by Mark de Castrique — A Sam Blackman Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: October 2011
List Price: $24.95