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The Blackbird Papers: A Novel Hardcover – June 15, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

NBC News medical correspondent and nonfiction author Smith (Dr. Ian Smith's Guide to Medical Websites, etc.) leaps headfirst into the thriller pool and comes up flailing with this mediocre tale of a renegade African-American FBI agent, Sterling Bledsoe, and his investigation into his estranged brother's apparently race-motivated murder. Dartmouth College professor Wilson Bledsoe is driving home from a party celebrating his recent winning of the Devonshire Award, the most lucrative prize in science, when he stops to help two rednecks having truck problems. Soon enough, he's dead. Cut to his brother Sterling, who's awakened, along with girlfriend Veronica ("She was gorgeous, like all his women"), by a phone call from the Hanover, N.H., police department. Even though Sterling hated his brother, he hops a plane and races to the scene in a rented sports car. Once there, he wows the local cops with his big city, FBI sleuthing techniques. Smith's attempts at stylish writing are painfully misguided: "Sterling stretched his eyes across the valley," and his characters tend to scream, groan, sob, growl and shriek. Sterling's not only smart and tough, he's sensitive, as evidenced by all the weeping he does: "Sterling Bledsoe didn't just tear up, he cried. Big sloppy tears." The mystery hinges on Wilson's recent discovery of hundreds of dead blackbirds and the method of their mass demise. The eventual denouement is labored, and Sterling's last-minute rescue relies on a technological trick that has become a cliché in the thriller field. Smith's medical background serves him well here, but he needs to familiarize himself with the genre and acquire a good editor if he expects veteran readers to take him seriously.
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Review

“Ian Smith’s debut novel, The Blackbird Papers, is exceptional on all levels: the characters and setting are fresh, the plot is riveting, and you feel like you are in totally new territory. Take note of a career about to soar.”—Harlan Coben, author of No Second Chance

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385511361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385511360
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,432,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian K. Smith, M.D., is the #1 bestselling author of THE 4 DAY DIET, THE FAT SMASH DIET and EXTREME FAT SMASH DIET. He is the medical/diet expert and host of VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club". In 2008, Smith created The 50 Million Pound Challenge, a free national weight loss initiative. He has written for a variety of publications, including Time, Newsweek, and the New York Daily News.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Brown Girl VINE VOICE on July 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A prominent, award-winning African American Dartmouth etiologist is murdered in rural Vermont and his brother, FBI Special Agent, Sterling Bledsoe, spearheads the investigation. When circumstantial evidence points to white supremacists, Sterling senses a cover-up and digs deeper to find the truth. The story then follows his methodical steps as he conducts interviews, observes autopsies, and delves into his famous brother's clandestine research project involving thousands of dead blackbirds found in the local woodlands.
Sterling's adventure turns sour when mid-way through the case he becomes the prime suspect and goes on the lam from the law. Thus, we are thrust from the bucolic comfort of Hanover to the familiar, crowded streets of New York City for safe haven until our hero could gather his thoughts and plot his next moves. He uses his resources wisely calling on old and new acquaintances to piece together the clues all the while avoiding FBI, local, and intra-state police.
The backdrop of the story is the strained relationship of Sterling and his older brother, Wilson. Serious sibling rivalry, parental neglect, and unresolved bitterness has plagued Sterling all his life. Wilson's untimely murder only adds to his already burdened psyche breaking his concentration at inopportune moments, not to mention a love interest that causes distractions as well.
Although the resolution of the mystery was somewhat predictable, I was pleasantly shocked by one of the co-conspirators. So obviously there are some unexpected twists and turns in the plot that yield surprising results. This is a great "whodunit" for a first time author; I loved the ecological, suspenseful flavor of the novel. I'm looking forward to his next release.
Reviewed by Phyllis
APOOO BookClub
The Nubian Circle Book Club
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Maynard VINE VOICE on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was a book unlike any other I have read to date. It was filled with mystery, intrigue, suspense, and all the while, it maintained such wonderful character development that I felt as though I really knew the characters. One of the things I loved about the story was Sterling Bledsoe's toughness without over doing it. He was a man doing his job without being a superhero. The book is so well written, it really just speaks for itself. Another aspect I appreciated was how well the story flowed, there was no unbelieveable, couldn't in a million years end like that, ending.

The story, without giving anything away, is about a highly distinguished professor, Wilson Bledsoe, who is murdered on the night of celebrating his being awarded the Devonshire, a coveted science award. He is murdered on his way home, and his brother, Sterling, who is an FBI agent, takes the case. Sterling and Wilson were never close growing up, as a matter of fact, Sterling grew up living in Wilson's shadow. This caused a deep seeded anger and hatred toward Wilson.

As the story unfolds, Sterling comes to know the brother he has spent so much time disliking, and discovers what a truly wonderful person he really was. This book was so good on so many levels. You won't regret spending the time to read this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GoodBrotha on January 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
From the title of this book to the storyline, I loved The Blackbird Papers. Dr. Ian Smith has proven that he is masterful at more than one profession. I'm a fast reader, anyway but when a book is really good, I can finish it even more quickly. I completed his book in just over two hours and I think I was absorbed with every page. That murder scene had me boiling with anger. I was not only mad at the murder, but I was mad at Dr. Smith for writing it in. That's the sign of a great book and a great writer. Hope to see more books by him in the near future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Blackbirds are birds of woodland and heaths which have readily adapted to farmland and gardens. They like areas with bushes, shrubs and trees, and nearby open ground and short grass.
Wikipedia

Professor Wilson Bledsoe, award winning Dartmouth, Nobel prize etiologist, doesn't make it home one night. He goes missing. The last word heard from him was while he was driving on River Road, near his home in Norwich, Vermont. This road is very familiar to me; I used to live in Norwich. Prof. Wilson is fiction, but the time and place are real. Dr Ian Smith, the author went to Dartmouth Medical School and knows the area well. His book is full of suspense and mystery, very well written and every detail is covered

Sterling Bledsoe receives a phone call in the very early morning. He is in New York City and the phone call is from the Chief of Police in Norwich, Vt to tell him his brother is missing. Sterling calls his boss, the Chief of the FBI and gives his blessing. Sterling is off, not only to the home of his brother, but he is off to solve this mystery. A convoluted,road no doubt. He comes to know almost everyone in Hanover, NH; the President of Dartmouth, the janitors who clean his brothers office, the State and local police, the townspeople and the students, and, of course, Wilson's wife, Kay. Not much is said of Kay. She is broken hearted and bereft. Wilson's body was brutalized, probably to hide the real killers, but his death was brutal. Sterling goes from Hanover to New York City and to the small town's in-between. The mystery deepens, who and why was Wilson murdered? The clues start to appear, "The Blackbird Papers"- the tattoes found on Wilson's body. Someone went to elaborate detail to hide the reasons for this death.
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