All Things Mysterious Volume Seventeen
The Grand Old Game
Ah, the signs of spring! Birds, flowers, warmer weather…..and the crack of the bat! Yes, the fifth season of the year is upon us (spring, summer, fall, winter, and baseball) and it’s time to get ready for summer reading with the summer game! Quite a few topnotch mysteries have baseball themes, so….. Play Ball!
Troy Soos has published seven baseball themed mysteries, the first six in the mid-to-late nineties, and the most recent, The Tomb That Ruth Built, in 2014. Utility infielder Mickey Rawlins is the very definition of the journeyman ballplayer, having had cups of coffee with Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and now the Bronx Bombers. Seems like wherever Rawlins unpacks his bat, corpses follow! This series is rich with period details alongside some actual ballplayers from the era, so get ready to meet Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, and many other stars of the deadball period.
Jon Breen has created that rarest of sleuths--a major league umpire who solves crimes between pitches! A body in the bullpen? Today’s starting pitcher disappears between the clubhouse and the field? Ed Gorgon’s your man! When he’s not calling balls and strikes or ejecting argumentative outfielders, he is sleuthing mysteries. Check out Kill the Umpire, a collection of sixteen stories featuring the man in blue--umpire blue!
Richard Rosen adds a new twist to the national pastime themed mystery. Harvey Blissberg once starred for the Boston Red Sox, and now is toiling for the expansion Providence Jewels. When a relief pitcher is found dead in the whirlpool bath, teammate Blissberg decides to solve the crime. Will his affair with a sportscaster help or hinder his investigation? One plot point hinges on stolen typewriters, so keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1984!
Author Rosen won an Edgar award for best first novel and was a writer for Saturday Night Live.
Walt Brown weighs in with The Mickey Mantle Murder, in which detective Chris Decker investigates the theft of the popular 1952 Topps Mantle card.
Not only is a coveted card missing but a well-known but frequently abrasive memorabilia dealer has also disappeared. This is not Mantle’s rookie card, contrary to popular belief; that honor goes to the 1951 Bowman entry. But the ‘52 is extremely coveted by collectors; part of the scarce high series of that year’s cards, rumor has it that Topps, based in Brooklyn, had a huge surplus of the last batch of cards and, not having an outlet for them once football season started, dumped numerous cartons in the East River!
David Nighbert’s Strikezone concerns William ‘Bull’ Cochrane, a fair-to-middling pitcher (good fastball, poor control) who kills a man with a pitch. Disgraced, he retires from the mound and opens a business with his friend Juice, a minor league catcher. When thugs gun Juice down, a shady business is uncovered, and Cochrane learns that there’s no one warming up in the bullpen of life!
The late Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone was a prospect playing in Triple-A ball when an injury wrecked his dream. When a reunion of his old team turns deadly, Stone must come to terms with his lost career and with the fact that one of his ex-teammates is involved in a murder!
For younger readers, the A to Z Mysteries series brings us Ron Roy’s The Unwilling Umpire. While the entire town of Green Lawn is watching the women vs. men baseball game, Mr. Pocket’s collection of baseballs is missing, and the main suspect is the umpire! Can Dink, Josh, and Ruth prove his innocence...or will they strike out? Ages 6-9.
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