Mark de Castrique’s research for his Sam Blackman mysteries yields some fascinating gems of local history. “I enjoy researching the lesser known stories of Asheville’s past that tie into a fictional crime today,” he says. “For example, who would ever guess that in the 1930s Asheville was home to the largest fascist group in the U.S.?”
Featuring intrepid sleuths Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson, Hidden Scars is the sixth in the series and centers around the real Black Mountain College (BMC) and a fictional unsolved murder there.
BMC opened its doors in 1933 as a reaction against traditional institutions of higher learning. “Some of the early BMC faculty,” de Castrique says, “had fled Hitler’s attack on the Bauhaus School in Germany.” The school attracted some of the most innovative and creative minds of the day, but, by 1957, had closed its doors.
In his research, de Castrique says, he learned that BMC had been targeted as “a potential nest of Communist sympathizers. The government also worked to deny G. I. Bill educational benefits to enrolled veterans, thereby hastening the demise of the college.”
De Castrique brings a background of broadcasting and filmmaking to his novels, and indeed filmmaking figures in the plot of this mystery. “The common core element [between the genres],” he says, “is storytelling.”
Hidden Scars: A Sam Blackman Mystery, October, 2017, fiction, hardback ($26.95), softcover ($15.95) and e-book, by Mark de Castrique, and published by Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, AZ. A book signing will be held at Highland Books in Brevard on Saturday, October 21, at 1 p.m. To learn more, visit markdecastrique.com.