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A Murder in Passing    by Mark de Castrique order for
Murder in Passing
by Mark de Castrique
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson are back, much to my delight, bringing us another of their cases. Together they own the Blackman and Robertson Detective Agency as well as each other's hearts.

Not busy in the agency, Natayla coaxes Sam to go on a mushroom hunt with her club. Not much for this sort of venture, Sam acquiesces anyway because she often does things that are not really her bag but that he enjoys. This hunt does not end as they thought it would with a meal featuring their fungi. Instead the foot of Sam's artificial leg catches on a root and he pitches forward onto a rotted, hollow log.

And, what could they possibly find in an old log? This is a mystery, friends, and the log contains the remains of a human being! Now, we're back in business. Later, back at the workplace, Martha Montgomery walks into their office and complains that someone has stolen a photograph. She wants them to find it. When questioned, she reveals that the photo had been taken by a woman photographer who was renowned for her work in the 1930s. It had to be worth money. But it also was a photo of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and she and her mother want it back. This photo was stolen in 1967! Cold trail, for sure.

The past is wound up in the laws preventing white and black to marry. When Martha's father, white, wanted to marry Martha's mother, black, they were prevented by law. When the law was rescinded, Martha's mother knew they still couldn't marry as the social laws of the South wouldn't permit it.

This compelling story delves into the mores of the South at that time. A Murder in Passing by Mark de Castrique also gives us a tour of Ashville, North Carolina and the surrounding countryside. I can attest that he is right on the button with this. Beautiful area. The characters might leave a little to be desired. De Castrique also throws in family dynamics just to sweeten the pot. It's a good mystery. And this is just the right season for good beach reading. Perhaps at the Town of Duck. Or maybe Kitty Hawk.

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