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Blackman's Coffin: A Sam Blackman Mystery
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Blackman's Coffin: A Sam Blackman Mystery (Sam Blackman #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  370 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
What's really hidden beneath Asheville's rich history? Sam Blackman is an angry man. A Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. military, he lost a leg in Iraq. His outspoken criticism of his medical treatment resulted in his transfer to the Veteran's Hospital in Asheville, NC. Then an ex-marine and fellow amputee named Tikima Robertson wa ...more
ebook, 264 pages
Published January 31st 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published June 1st 2008)
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While perusing the stacks at the library, Blackman's Coffin practically leaped off the shelf into my hands. I thought: "That sure looks like the Biltmore House in Asheville." If you've never been to America's largest private residence - the mansion of mansions - you are missing out! Words can not even begin to describe such opulence.

After I turned the book over and read the back cover, not only did I confirm my assumption, I was intrigued by the synopsis.

Recovering Iraqi War amputee, Chief Warr
BLACKMAN’S COFFIN (Unl. Inv.-Sam Blackman-North Carolina/Georgia-1907/Cont) – Ex
De Castrique, Mark – 1st Sam Blackman book
Poisoned Pen Press, 2008, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9781590585177

First Sentence: I felt a hand on my shoulder , shaking me awake.

Sam Blackman was a Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment. He is now in a VA Hospital in Ashville, NC after having lost part of his leg in Iraq. Tikima Robertson, an ex-Marine who lost part of her arm in Iraq, visits his room. She
Elizabeth A.
May 01, 2010 Elizabeth A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blackman's Coffin is the first book in a new series from Mark de Castrique, author of the outstanding 'Buryin' Barry' series. Blackman's Coffin introduces us to Sam Blackman, a former Chief Warrant Officer in the Army's Criminal Investigation Detachment who, having lost part of his left leg in Iraq, is currently rehabbing at a V.A. hospital in Asheville, N.C.

Shortly before he is set to be discharged, both from the hospital and the Army, he meets fellow vet and amputee Tikima Robertson during one
Apr 03, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sam Blackman is in the VA hospital in Asheville, NC. He lost his leg in the current Iraq War and is having rehab when he meets Tikima Robertson, a fellow amputee who invites him to apply for a job at her security firm. Soon after, Sam phones the firm and learns Tikima has been found murdered. Tikima's sister, Nakayla, calls on Sam when her sister's apartment is broken into. The intruders overlooked a diary from 1919 bookmarked with Sam's name and number. The diary brings to life the story of a w ...more
Kathleen Lawrence
This is de Castrique's first murder/mystery featuring Sam Blackman, a former Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. Military. He lost a leg in Iraq and while recovering is visited in the hospital by Takima Robertson, also an amputee. She wants him to consider working for the same security firm she does when he is released. But, things spiral dangerously when Takima is found murdered. Sam's curiousity is aroused and he is soon tracking down clues on the Vanderb ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a lover of literary fiction, memoirs and occasionally a good mystery. I don't have time for junk but needed a post-surgery quick read. Chose this book for its cover, embarrassed to say; thought it would be a 3 star, at best. But I'm new to the Asheville area, so the romp through history and local attractions kept my attention. Surprisingly, the story got better, escalating into a flood of details and plot twists that made me yearn for the author's storyboard--and a map of Blackman's stops ar ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this as an audiobook on some of my longer runs. It was a good story and the ending wasn't predictable. The narrator drove me crazy doing all the different voices and I feel like he had weird pauses, but the book itself was enjoyable.
Feb 19, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Sam Blackman series. The debut entry in the series by Mark de Castrique, author of the Buryin' Barry Clayton series. A minor character, Tikima, sister of the ongoing character Nakayla, made quite an impression on me and I wish there was a way to see more of her.

Sam Blackman, Army CID investigator, is being discharged after losing a foot in Iraq. He is visited by Tikima, an ex-Marine amputee working for a security firm, who promises to return for another visit. She doesn't return and wh
There was a lot to like in this murder mystery. I enjoyed the historical story with the thread that connected to the murder in the contemporary setting. I liked the main character and the supporting characters and the information about the Vanderbilts and the Biltmore Mansion & Estate.

This is another story never would have chosen except for the fact that my library had it available as an electronic audio book but it held my interest and was entertaining. The reading in the voice of the main
Amy Paget
I have just finished this 1st entry in the Sam Blackman series after reading #2 first. Delighted to say that I liked book two better, but this is a very interesting series. Set in Ashville, it mines the history of the area juxtaposed with a very contemporary detective duo in terms of Iraq veteran Sam Blackman and the sidekick he meets in this first novel, Nakayla Robertson. Once again literary history figures in this novel as the writings of Thomas Wolfe feature in the mystery itself. Light read ...more
Sam Blackman a patient at the Asheville VA hospital is visited by a young woman, Tikima, who like him has lost a limb in the Iraqi war. What begins as a harsh pep talk ends up as an intriguing job offer. Then days later later Tikima y is found dead in the French Broad River. The clues Blackman and Tikima's sister have to go on are scant; an old journal, file cards from Tikima's job as a security specialist. Before long it becomes apparent that Tikima's murder is some how tied to her great- great ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this title listed on my "to be read" shelf. I put in there about two years ago though I don't recall it or know where I found it. I was a little bit hesitant about it because the author was unknown to me.

What a surprise! I greatly enjoyed this book. I flew through it in a day. The story was nice, simple, interesting and believable. The only thing I found wanting was that I wish I knew more about Sam Blackman. Since this is the start of a series I'm assuming that the character will devel
May 23, 2010 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
SETTING: Asheville, North Carolina
SERIES: #1 of 1

Blackman’s Coffin is a departure from Mark de Castrique’s Buryin’ Barry series and introduces a compelling new protagonist, Sam Blackman, a somewhat embittered ex-Army investigator who lost his left leg in Iraq.

While recovering in a VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, he is visited by ex-marine Tikima Robertson, who is also an amputee, having lost her hand in battle. She’s a feisty woman who cuts to the c
Miss Starling
This book has an easy going writing style that you can follow without having to pause and re-read paragraphs. That is a fun, lovely fact about this book. Blackman's Coffin is primarily about an army vet, Sam Blackman, who is recently made an amputee. He is visited by an arm amputee who gives him a seemingly uninteresting book, then is found floating in the river the next day. The plot unfolds as he digs up the past to find that she is connected to an earliar sequence of events. That was a little ...more
Oct 26, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a new character and series. Blackman is an veteran of the Iraq war who is struggling to cope with the fact he now has a prothestic leg. While still in the hospital, he meets a young black woman, a former Marine who lost an arm & hand - replaced by a hook, at her choice. She's very strong and essentially tells him to "get a grip"; she tells him she'll be back to see him, but does not return. He finds out she was murdered; decides to attend her funeral to pay his respects as a veteran ...more
Aug 21, 2016 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a long, long time since I enjoyed the first book in a series this much and have to almost physically restrain myself from immediately starting book 2. I already looked...there aren't that many of them (YET) and I know the sadness of being caught up and eagerly awaiting the upcoming book in a series. So I will restrain myself. For awhile.
Mary Ahlgren
An interesting bit of history with which I was not familiar. To read about Vanderbilt's replanting seeds for every tree harvested immediately after reading about ruthless cutting in "Barkskins" was an interesting coincidence. And both books shone in their telling of the racism abounding in this country.
Jan 03, 2015 M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first in a series I'm looking forward to continuing. An Iraq veteran investigates a century old murder, highlighting the culture of the early 20th century, including Jim Crow laws, the Biltmore Estate, and a possible unknown manuscript by author Thomas Wolfe. Great read!
Dec 02, 2015 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by this author. I liked that he intertwined a mystery from the past with a murder in the present. I liked the characters and the great sense of place. I also learned about Fredrick Law Olmstead's involvement in the development of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC and about Thomas Wolfe, who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, and who had a pivotal role in the story. Now I want to visit there.
The opening was a little blah, even though it was military. However, the story quickly became engrossing and in some places horrifying, as a small boy rides in the back with a dead man on his way to Georgia from North Carolina.
Bjorn Midtlyng
I liked the historical aspect of this book and the insight into the Vanderbilt family. However, the mystery part was a bit drawn out for me.
May 28, 2013 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A recommendation from my friend Denise Wetstiene, this is a new series (2008) based in Ashville, NC. The settings in the surrounding area of Ashville were all familiar to me, having just gone this past fall. The Biltmore Estate and winery, Blue Ridge Parkway, the Woolworth Walk and Pisgah Forest all figure prominently in the story. The main character is an Iraqi war vet and he is tangled up in a 80 year old murder and related current day deaths. A well told tale. One area that was also included ...more
May 01, 2016 Tatrd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the setting in Asheville & around the Biltmore but the story was a little slow for me.
Apr 30, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1st in a series set in & around Asheville NC. Good story with some area history thrown in -
Jul 20, 2016 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed this book especially since it dovetailed with my vacation location. I'll read the next in the series.
at Biltmore. enjoyable
This mystery was OK. The who-done-it was not as perdictable as some I've read. And the overall polt and real history facts were fun. But the overall tone of the characters was too by-the-book for my taste. Every little interaction was explained out as to why people felt what they felt and how/why characters interacted based on those feelings. It got old quick and came of as too office work place interactions educatoinal video.

I listened to this on audiobook format.
Kathy Stilwell
Aug 07, 2013 Kathy Stilwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys detective stories
Recommended to Kathy by: Morgan James
A friend of mine led me to Mark de Castrique's detective series involving Sam Blackman and what a pleasure it has been! I look forward to the end of the day when I can return to the story--I'm now on the fourth in the series--and immerse myself in the intrigues of Sam and his partner, Nakayla's detective agency in nearby Asheville. I especially enjoy the author's way of weaving local history and lore, especially concerning literary characters, into the story.
Ryan Mishap
A decent foray into the "Past Events Influence Modern Murder" genre, that also employs the "Hero With a Quirk"--a veteran with an investigative background and half a leg. Also contains the following mystery staples: down-home locale, possible romance with family member of murder victim, suspicious small-town cops, and a literary figure as part of the mystery (Thomas Wolfe).

Competently assembled from the mystery story component bins he had in the garage.
Sam Blackman is an Iraqi veteran who lost a leg while working as an MP in Iraq. He exposed some of the failings of Walter Reed Medical Center and was transfered to the VA in Asheville. He is visited by another vet and amputee who is later murdered. Blackman is asked to investigate the case by the woman's sister. The case takes them into the history of her African-American family and the Biltmore Estate.

A mediocre read but interesting history.
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Mark de Castrique is an author, playwright, public speaker, and television producer living in Charlotte.

Through his company MARK et al., he writes, shoots, and edits projects for a variety of clients.

His work has earned CLIO, TELLY, and EMMY awards.

Mark has scripted stories aired on PBS and commercial network affiliates, as well as created video presentations for major corporations.
More about Mark de Castrique...

Other Books in the Series

Sam Blackman (5 books)
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  • The Sandburg Connection (Sam Blackman, #3)
  • A Murder in Passing (Sam Blackman #4)
  • A Specter of Justice: A Sam Blackman Mystery (Sam Blackman Series)

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