MYSTERY

Murder in Rat Alley

Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks. (Sam Blackman, Bk. 7). Dec. 2019. 272p. ISBN 9781492699385. $26.99. M
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In 1971, computer programmer Frank DeMille disappeared from Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in North Carolina, where he and coworkers were tracking the Apollo 12 mission. Nearly 50 years later, his body is uncovered near the facility. Evidence indicates DeMille was murdered. His niece enlists private detectives Sam Blackman and his partner/lover, Nakayla Robertson, to pursue a parallel investigation to that of the police. Initial suspects include the brothers of DeMille’s fiancée; additional suspects arise when Sam learns that DeMille sent a letter to his brother-in-law, Eddie, an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, seeking advice about anomalies at PARI. Eddie died several months after receiving DeMille’s letter and pushing it up the ranks. Could these deaths, as well as recent murders, have something to do with military intelligence?
VERDICT The seventh “Sam Blackman” mystery (Hidden Scars) has the right amount of action, humor, and intrigue. Fans of the humor of Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series with some North Carolina history thrown in will enjoy Sam’s relentless pursuit of the truth.

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