A Specter of Justice
Review: Hewitt Donaldson is one of the most aggressive defense attorneys in Asheville, North Carolina, employing every trick in the book to get his clients free. And he regularly employs private investigators Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson to do some of the leg work. But when two women are found murdered, and the evidence clearly points to Donaldson as the killer, Sam and Nakayla are tasked with finding out who is framing the attorney, in A Specter of Justice, the fifth mystery in this series by Mark de Castrique.
One of the murdered women, Lenore Carpenter, turns out to be Donaldson's secret lover. He met her over 20 years ago when she was on a jury and he was the defense attorney for an accused killer, Kyle Duncan. Lenore was the lone hold-out on the jury, believing Donaldson's defense of the man, and the Duncan was set free. Evidence in the trial was later tampered with, and the prosecution declined to try the case again. Duncan moved to Denver, where he was accused of another killing, this time being found guilty. After the trial, Donaldson and Lenore struck up a friendship that lasted into the present. Using this decades old case as a starting point, Sam and Nakayla begin to piece together the puzzle of Lenore's murder and that of another woman, though the clues to the killer's identity remain elusive.
The whodunit element of A Specter of Justice is very well handled, as is the inclusion of a ghost walk tour featuring famous historic deaths of people in and around the Asheville area … which also serves as the venue for the murders and the denouement. But it's slow going for much of the way from the initial murders to the final resolution. Sam and Nakayla head down several blind alleys during their investigation, and these diversions, none of which are really all that interesting in and of themselves, play out in greater length than they probably should and introduce a cast of peripheral characters that are hard to keep track of and, in the end, irrelevant to the solution. This is, in general, such a strong series that it's possible this latest entry is simply weak(er) by comparison. Still, the mystery plot here is solidly developed and one worthy of serious consideration for potential readers.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an eARC of A Specter of Justice for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), November 2014
ISBN-13: 9781464203060; ISBN-10: 1464203067
Location(s) referenced in A Specter of Justice: Asheville, North Carolina
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A Specter of Justice by Mark de Castrique — A Sam Blackman Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: November 2015
List Price: $26.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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