de Castrique, Mark 1948-

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de Castrique, Mark 1948-

PERSONAL:

Born November 3, 1948, in NC; married; children: two daughters. Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., 1970; University of North Carolina at Charlotte, M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Charlotte, NC. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, producer, and director. WBT, broadcast operations manager and program manager, 1976-84; Newcomb/de Castrique Film Productions, founder and producer, 1984-92; Silver Hammer Studios, vice president and chief financial officer, 1994-2001; MARK et al. (production company), Charlotte, NC, founder. Former producer-director for WJLA-TV, Washington, DC; production manager for HBO-BBC production Murder of Medgar Evers; producer for Carolinas Medical Center Children's Miracle Network and of commercials and corporate videos; former financial advisor for The Equitable. Adjunct professor at the North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking and University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Has served on a variety of civic-oriented boards and commissions, including facilities committees for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and a committee formed to study school choice.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Emmy, Clio, and Telly awards.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Dangerous Undertaking, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2003.

Grave Undertaking, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.

Foolish Undertaking, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

A Conspiracy of Genes, Lulu.com (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

Final Undertaking, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.

Also author of plays, including A Dying Business, produced at 2001 New Plays in America Festival, and (with Loonis McGlohon) Art for a Steal.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mark de Castrique, a television and film producer, sets his fast-paced detective novels in his native North Carolina. Dangerous Undertaking introduces undertaker Barry Clayton, who has just returned home to the small mountain community of Gainesboro, after leaving behind a job on the Charlotte police force. He reluctantly takes over the family's funeral home, which his Alzheimer's-stricken father cannot handle anymore. During an elderly woman's funeral, a grandson who has failed to show up appears out of the blue and fatally shoots his two siblings. He then turns his gun on Barry, wounding him in the shoulder. It turns out that the shooter, mentally unstable Dallas Willard, desperately wants to preserve land that his grandmother Martha had owned and that his two siblings had planned to sell off. He escapes, but Barry and the local sheriff soon discover that Dallas himself has become the victim of a homicide. They realize that there is a complex feud going on over Martha Willard's last will and the business interests of a large electric company are also involved.

Dangerous Undertaking was praised by several critics for its ably depicted setting. On the Books 'n' Bytes Web site, Harriet Klausner wrote that de Castrique's debut novel is "an excellent regional mystery … filled with local color" and "a must read for those fans who want to learn about a mountain culture inside a strong mystery." In Booklist, Jenny McLarin called de Castrique's novel "a well-written debut featuring an engaging buddy team and a picturesque setting." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book's characters "flat" but found the regional background "sensitive and savory."

In de Castrique's follow-up, Grave Undertaking, Clayton makes a pair of startling discoveries when he unearths the skeleton of Sammy Calhoun; there is a bullet hole in Calhoun's skull and a photo of Clayton's girlfriend in the victim's wallet. As Clayton delves deeper into the mystery, he realizes that some of local citizens are harboring deep secrets. A critic in Publishers Weekly praised de Castrique's "realistic and sensitively drawn characters," and McLarin complimented the author's "rich yet respectful portrait of life in the Appalachians." Clayton must deal with a high-profile funeral and a stolen corpse in Foolish Undertaking. When the body of Y'Grok Eban, a Montagnard who fought with Gainesboro Sheriff Tommy Lee Wadkins in Vietnam, disappears from the funeral home, Clayton turns to visiting Boston detective Kevin Malone for assistance. De Castrique "has a deft touch when it comes to detailing interpersonal relationships," noted Library Journal reviewer Jo Ann Vicarel.

In Final Undertaking, the fourth work featuring Clayton, an elderly man goes on a shooting spree in Gainesboro, seriously wounding Sheriff Wadkins. Clayton is asked to take charge of the case, and he follows the trail to Florida, where he learns that the shooter's wife died of an overdose, the result of a prescription drug scam. A critic in Publishers Weekly described Final Undertaking as "colorful" and "engrossing," and Booklist reviewer David Pitt called the work "a thoroughly enjoyable yarn."

Asked to describe the appeal of the Barry Clayton character, de Castrique told Reader's Club Web site contributors Cassandra Hunsucker and Mark Barringer: "Part of the success of having an amateur sleuth is reader identification. Most of us are normal—meaning we all have a range of insecurities and disappointments that we manage to keep under control. We deal with family issues, job concerns, joys and sorrows of life. I think people enjoy reading about an ordinary guy who gets caught up in extraordinary situations and masters them."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2003, Jenny McLarin, review of Dangerous Undertaking, p. 1540; June 1, 2004, Jenny McLarin, review of Grave Undertaking, p. 1706; February 1, 2006, Jenny McLarin, review of Foolish Undertaking, p. 33; March 15, 2007, David Pitt, review of Final Undertaking, p. 28.

Books, March 19, 2006, Dick Adler, review of Foolish Undertaking, p. 8.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Dangerous Undertaking, p. 506.

Library Journal, February 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Foolish Undertaking, p. 56.

Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2003, review of Dangerous Undertaking, p. 52; May 17, 2004, review of Grave Undertaking, p. 37; February 5, 2007, review of Final Undertaking, p. 44.

ONLINE

Books 'n' Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (September 25, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Dangerous Undertaking.

Mark de Castrique Home Page,http://mark-et-al.com (September 25, 2007).

Reader's Club,http://www.readersclub.org/ (October 11, 2007), Cassandra Hunsucker and Mark Barringer, "Meet the Author: Mark de Castrique."

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