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The Blackbird Papers

A Novel

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A rainy night . . . A stranded motorist . . . A Good Samaritan passerby … a Nobel Prize–winning professor . . . The setup for a shocking murder designed to cover up an even more sinister crime . . .

The Blackbird Papers marks the debut of Ian Smith, a major new talent in crime fiction, and of Sterling Bledsoe, his smart and occasionally combative sleuth.

World-renowned Dartmouth professor Wilson Bledsoe is returning from a party celebrating his latest honor when he encounters a broken-down pickup on the secluded country road to his home. The next day, the discovery of his body with a vicious racist epithet carved into his chest leads to the quick arrest of two loathsome white supremacists. The local authorities seem ready to accept the case at face value as a racial hate crime. But the murdered professor’s brother, FBI agent Sterling Bledsoe, has inserted himself into the investigation and isn’t ready to buy into this pat solution. A look around his brother’s lab and brief interviews with his students and colleagues pique Sterling’s curiosity about Wilson’s pet project: a nearly completed paper on the mysterious deaths of hundreds of local blackbirds.

Fast-paced and cleverly constructed, The Blackbird Papers introduces a major new talent in mystery and crime fiction.

From Publishers Weekly

19 April 2004 – NBC News medical correspondent and nonfiction author Smith (Dr. Ian Smith's Guide to Medical Websites, etc.) leaps headfirst into the thriller pool and comes up flailing with this mediocre tale of a renegade African-American FBI agent, Sterling Bledsoe, and his investigation into his estranged brother's apparently race-motivated murder. Dartmouth College professor Wilson Bledsoe is driving home from a party celebrating his recent winning of the Devonshire Award, the most lucrative prize in science, when he stops to help two rednecks having truck problems. Soon enough, he's dead. Cut to his brother Sterling, who's awakened, along with girlfriend Veronica ("She was gorgeous, like all his women"), by a phone call from the Hanover, N.H., police department. Even though Sterling hated his brother, he hops a plane and races to the scene in a rented sports car. Once there, he wows the local cops with his big city, FBI sleuthing techniques. Smith's attempts at stylish writing are painfully misguided: "Sterling stretched his eyes across the valley," and his characters tend to scream, groan, sob, growl and shriek. Sterling's not only smart and tough, he's sensitive, as evidenced by all the weeping he does: "Sterling Bledsoe didn't just tear up, he cried. Big sloppy tears." The mystery hinges on Wilson's recent discovery of hundreds of dead blackbirds and the method of their mass demise. The eventual denouement is labored, and Sterling's last-minute rescue relies on a technological trick that has become a clich in the thriller field. Smith's medical background serves him well here, but he needs to familiarize himself with the genre and acquire a good editor if he expects veteran readers to take him seriously.
The Blackbird Papers
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  • 14,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Crime & Thrillers
  • Published: 15 June 2004
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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