When last we visited Charlotte mystery writer Mark de Castrique, he had just published Secret Lives: An Ethel Fiona Crestwater Mystery. Poison Pen Press brought out Secret Lives in October 2022, and that same month I devoted a Storied Charlotte blog post to the book’s release. Much has happened in Mark’s world since then.
Mark recently learned that Secret Lives is one of five nominees for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award. This award is presented by the Mystery Writers of America, and it honors “the best novel in a series featuring a female protagonist.” Mark informed me that the winner will be announced at an awards banquet this Thursday in New York City. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Secret Lives is declared the winner. For more information about the Sue Grafton Memorial Award, please click on the following link: https://edgarawards.com/category-list-sue-grafton-award/
Mark’s other big news is the release of his new mystery novel titled The Secret of FBI File 100-3-116. This novel is the latest volume in his Sam Blackman Series. Set in Asheville, this series features Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson, two private investigators who have a knack for uncovering secrets from the past. I contacted Mark and asked him for more information about this new mystery. Here is what he sent to me:
Writing a series means I’ve spent a lot of time with my characters over the span of years, even decades. In a way, they’ve become real to me and I wonder what they’re doing even when I’m not writing about them. At no point was this more evident to me than during the summer of 2020. COVID-19 was spreading like wildfire. Racial reckoning and Confederate monuments fueled nationwide protests. And Asheville, North Carolina, home of my detectives Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson, was not immune. I wondered how Sam and Nakayla were coping with the tumultuous times.
A year or two before, I had come across a declassified FBI file that J. Edgar Hoover had kept on Martin Luther King, Jr. Part of the file included investigations into threats made against the civil rights leader the two times he had been in the Asheville area – once for a retreat in January 1964 and then for a speech in August 1965. Those making the threats were never known. I became interested in how the turbulent 1960s connected to our present day, and I thought it would be interesting to create fictional characters who could have been behind the death threats. But the story isn’t about the past. It’s about how hiding and denying the past leads to murders in the present. And how Nakayla must face a truth that goes beyond one FBI file to a shocking revelation that upends her own history – a history that she and I discovered together.
Readers who want to know more about Mark and his mystery novels, please click on the following link: http://www.markdecastrique.com/
Although I am a big fan of Mark’s new Ethel Fiona Crestwater Mystery Series, I am pleased that he has provided his readers with a new addition to his popular Sam Blackman Series. I congratulate Mark on bringing out two mystery novels in the span of a year. Mark is a prolific and talented mystery writer, and we all fortunate that his home is here in Storied Charlotte.