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Blackman's Coffin: A Sam Blackman Mystery (Sam Blackman Series) Hardcover – June 10, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Sam Blackman Series
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; First Edition edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590585178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590585177
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,049,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of this outstanding first in a new series from de Castrique (Final Undertaking), Sam Blackman, a feisty army vet who lost part of a leg in the current Iraq War, is in his last days of rehab at a V.A. hospital in Asheville, N.C., when he meets Tikima Robertson, a black woman and fellow amputee who invites him to apply for a job at her security firm. Soon after, Sam phones the firm and learns Tikima is dead. Sam speaks at Tikima's funeral, during which her apartment is ransacked. Tikima's sister, Nakayla, later finds that the intruders overlooked a diary from 1919 bookmarked with Sam's name and number. The diary vividly brings to life the intrepid journey of a white funeral director and the Robertson sisters' great-great-grandfather, Elijah Robertson, that ends in Elijah's murder. Suspecting a connection between the long-ago murder and Tikima's untimely drowning, Sam decides to investigate, but he must overcome hurdles of body and mind as he pursues the truth. A wealth of historical detail, an exciting treasure hunt and credible characters distinguish this fresh, adventurous read. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

While recuperating in an Asheville, North Carolina, veterans’ hospital after losing a leg in Iraq, Sam Blackman  meets fellow vet Tikima Robertson, who stops by his hospital room with a possible job offer and a promise to visit again. When Tikima doesn’t return, Sam tries to contact her and finds she has been murdered. After Tikima’s sister, Nakayla, shows Sam a journal that Tikima wanted him to see, he becomes involved not only in finding Tikima’s murderer but also in solving the mystery of the 90-year-old journal itself, which refers to another murder, of the Robertsons’ great-great grandfather. Gold, emeralds, the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate,  and author Thomas Wolfe play roles in the generations-old case, which Sam and Nakayla unravel in a suspenseful, compelling narrative. A nice mix of past and present and a sympathetic sleuthing duo will keep readers engaged. De Castrique is the author of the Barry Clayton Undertaking series,  also set in North Carolina. --Sue O'Brien

Customer Reviews

The story moves which kept me turning the pages.
Debbie
He manages to include ideas and observations that are important and make me think.
L. J. Roberts
Good, fast- moving story with very interesting characters!
Ann Nichols

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
BLACKMAN'S COFFIN (Unl. Inv.-Sam Blackman-North Carolina/Georgia-1907/Cont) - Ex
De Castrique, Mark - 1st Sam Blackman book
Poisoned Pen Press, 2008, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9781590585177

First Sentence: I felt a hand on my shoulder , shaking me awake.

Sam Blackman was a Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment. He is now in a VA Hospital in Ashville, NC after having lost part of his leg in Iraq. Tikima Robertson, an ex-Marine who lost part of her arm in Iraq, visits his room. She comes with sass and an offer for Sam to put his past experience to use.

After Tikima is murdered, her sister Nakayla asks for his help and presents him with a journal written in 1919 on which Tikima has placed a note saying "for Sam."

I have become such a big fan of De Castrique's writing. He knows how to construct a good mystery with dimensional characters, a great sense of place and a touch of humor. He manages to include ideas and observations that are important and make me think.

The story is informative without, in any way, being boring or slow. This book is particularly timely in that the protagonist is an Iraq veteran and amputee. Some of his supporting characters are residents of a senior-care facility. References to other characters include the Vanderbilts and Thomas Wolfe.

The structure of the story is fascinating; a supposed journal from 1907--a device that could have slowed the story to a crawl but, instead, gave it extra dimension--and the present day. The story's plot was interesting and the manner in which the two time periods were linked and tied together at the end was so well done. I couldn't identify the bad guys and enjoyed the twists that took the story to a suspenseful climax and a touching end.

I was very sorry to see his Barry Clayton series end but am much better now that we have Sam Blackman. Thank you, Mr. De Castrique, for another great book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Churchillian phrase, "A mystery wrapped in an enigma," certainly applies to this novel, which promises to be the first in a new series featuring Sam Blackman. Sam was a career soldier in the army, most recently a Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment in Iraq where he lost a leg. Sent to Walter Reed Hospital in the nation's Capitol, he raised his voice against poor treatment of veterans in the press and before a Congressional Committee, gaining a certain notoriety.

Apparently as a result, or in an attempt to hide him from the public eye, Sam was relocated to a Veteran's Hospital in Asheville, NC, boyhood home of the novelist Thomas Wolfe, who plays a role in the story. Shortly before his discharge, Sam is visited by another amputee, Tikima Robertson, who suggests she could use his services. Before either could follow up, she is murdered. Her sister brings Sam a journal written in 1919 by a 12-year-old boy. The tale leads Sam and the sister into looking into not only Tikima's murder, but several others, including that of a couple that took place almost nine decades before.

Written with style and verve, the novel provides broad and interesting glimpses into North Carolina history, excellent descriptions of the Vanderbilt's legacy at the Biltmore estate and some interesting insights into Tom Wolfe's writings. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sadie's Mom on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Very well-written debut of a new series introducing war-wounded veteren, Sam Blackman. Book has so much fascinating detail and history of the Asheville, NC / Bilmore house that the book would be worth reading it for that alone. The story line, however, is also excellent and readers will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Harvell on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This series debut has everything you could want: a solid premise, 90-year-old unsolved crime, a great collection of characters (past and present), and a likable hero. Mark de Castrique thrusts you into the world of a disabled veteran and his search for a killer, while an unearthed journal from 1919 details a story parallel to the current investigation. It keeps readers guessing until the end. And no, I didn't see the killer's identity coming in the least. The characters are well drawn and the author provides a wealth of detail on Ashville, the Biltmore family, Thomas Wolfe, and more. The research is evident and the writing clear, dialogue real, and hopefully this is only the beginning to many Sam Blackman adventures!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L.B. on January 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although the mystery is complicated and a little bit difficult to follow, it's a great read. While the murder is present day, the mystery dates back some eighty years and involves not only the question of race, but the history of the Biltmore Estate and Asheville N.C, gold and emerald mining, and author Thomas Wolfe (I said it gets a little complicated). I liked the main character a lot. A military investigator who recently lost a leg. I would definitely read more Sam Blackman mysteries. However, my only criticism is that the main character's background was never fully explained. How did he lose his leg? Why did he have a reputation? Hopefully, those questions will be answered in the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. White on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Blackman's Coffin is the first book in a new series from Mark de Castrique, author of the outstanding 'Buryin' Barry' series. Blackman's Coffin introduces us to Sam Blackman, a former Chief Warrant Officer in the Army's Criminal Investigation Detachment who, having lost part of his left leg in Iraq, is currently rehabbing at a V.A. hospital in Asheville, N.C.

Shortly before he is set to be discharged, both from the hospital and the Army, he meets fellow vet and amputee Tikima Robertson during one of her visits to the hospital. Knowing of his investigative background, Tikima offers Sam a job with the security company where she works and promises to visit again in a couple of days. After several weeks pass with no word from Tikima, Sam follows up with her company only to learn that Tikima was murdered, her body having been pulled from the French Broad river with a gunshot to the head.

Sam subsequently receives a call from Tikima's sister informing him that her sister's apartment has been ransacked, and that she thinks she knows what the intruders were looking for... a journal from 1919 which recounts, among other things, the murder of the Robertsons' great-great-grandfather, Elijah, who was also found in the French Broad river. Tikima had hidden the journal under the dust jacket of another book and left a note on it indicating that the journal was intended for Sam's review. Feeling a sense of obligation to the woman who had reached out to him, Sam agrees to help investigate Tikima's murder.
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More About the Author

A native of western North Carolina, Mark sets most of his mysteries in Asheville and the surrounding Appalachian mountains. In addition to his Sam Blackman and Barry Clayton series, Mark has written the political thriller, The 13th TARGET, and two Young Adult mysteries: a thriller, A CONSPIRACY OF GENES, set in a children's hospital and an historical "locked-room" murder mystery, DEATH ON A SOUTHERN BREEZE, set on a train traveling from Charlotte to Charleston in the summer of 1860. Mark also has written the play "A DYING BUSINESS." two short stories, TWO OF A KIND, available for the Kindle, and the sci-fi thriller DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME set in 2030 when today's breaking scientific discoveries yield surprising and dangerous consequences.
For a sneak preview or for a tour of Sam Blackman's Asheville or a preview of his latest Sam Blackman mystery, A MURDER IN PASSING, or the D.C. political thriller, The 13th TARGET, check out the video section of his author page.

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