A disabled Iraqi war vet finds new meaning in life as a private detective.
Chief Warrant Officer Sam Blackman wakes up in Walter Reed Veterans Hospital with a chip on his shoulder and a Marine Corps veteran named Tikima Robertson challenging him to speed up his recovery. Since losing her hand in Iraq, Tikima has made it a personal mission to rouse wounded vets from their despair. Blackman, who’s lost both his leg and his parents, is an ideal candidate. After softening him up with a novel by Elmore Leonard (whom she has correctly tabbed as one of his favorite authors) and examining his background, Tikima suggests he contact her employer, Armitage Security Services, for a job. When he calls two weeks later, he learns that Tikima has been murdered. Her sister Nakayla brings an Elmore Leonard book Tikima left for Blackman. Inside the dust jacket is a journal from 1919 written by Henderson Youngblood, a boy whose life was saved by a black man named Elijah Robertson. When Elijah, who was Tikima and Nakayla’s great-great-grandfather, was murdered, it was Elijah’s mortician father who tended the body. Blackman’s first case involves solving these connected murders, one painfully recent and the other a century old.
In the struggling Sam Blackman, de Castrique (Final Undertaking, 2007, etc.) has created a compelling hero whose flinty first-person narrative nicely complements Henderson’s earnest, measured and equally involving account.