MYSTERY

Hidden Scars: A Sam Blackman Mystery

Poisoned Pen. Oct. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781464208942. $26.95; pap. ISBN 9781464208966. $15.95. M
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Asheville, NC, private investigators Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson are asked by an elderly client to look into the death of her brother nearly 70 years ago. The coroner's report indicated that Paul Weaver's death resulted from a fall while hiking, but he knew the mountains well. A World War II vet, Paul had enrolled in the innovative and liberal Black Mountain College, now the subject of a film currently being shot at the school's old location. One of the movie crew, octogenarian Harlan Beale, knew Paul back in the day. He hints to Sam that he has discovered something related to Paul's death. But Harlan is killed before he can reveal his findings, and a second murder heats up the cold case and brings past secrets into the present. In this seventh outing (after A Specter of Justice), the relationship between Nakayla and Sam continues to delight, as does the humor that imbues the series.
VERDICT With its strong sense of place, depiction of racial tension that still lingers in the new South, and appealing sleuths, de Castrique's well-plotted mystery is a winner.

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