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The Fitzgerald Ruse: Sam Blackman Mysteries    by Mark de Castrique order for
Fitzgerald Ruse
by Mark de Castrique
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Take the fabled Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, the 1920s and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a little old lady in her nineties today with a lockbox, as well as the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and you have a compelling and exciting tale. Mark De Castrique, author of the Sam Blackman series, upholds his reputation as a storyteller with The Fitzgerald Ruse.

Sam Blackman is an amputee who lost his leg in a skirmish in Vietnam. He starts a detective agency with his partner Nakayla Robertson, who incidentally is black while Sam is white. They are partners away from the office also. Sam finds there is still an aversion to such a coupling, even today. A new client, the ninety year-old, requests that Sam retrieve a lockbox from a bank storage vault and bring it to her. She has something she wants returned to the Fitzgerald family.

Bringing this about occasions the death of a security guard and the story gears up for action that almost seems non-stop. When the box is stolen, Sam and Nakayla plan its retrieval but find there has been another murder, this one preceded by torture. Amp up the suspense as they weave their way through sparse clues.

This is too good a plot to reveal any more. The Grove Park Inn is a great venue to place parts of the story. I've stayed there and can find nothing negative to say about it. The area is as beautiful and spectacular as the Inn itself. In an aside, I found the difficulties that Sam has with his artificial limb familiar. My brother lost his leg on Okinawa in World War II. I feel DeCastrique does veterans a service by bringing out the fact that war doesn't always end at the surrender.

The Fitzgerald Ruse has good characters in both Sam and Nakayla (who will hopefully prove to be as active in future books). This is a good read.

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