The Mysterious Bookshop

To celebrate the new season, Read the exciting first part of Brand and the Twin Killing, handy at All Things Mysterious Volume Eighteen. Just scroll down!  

Brand and the Twin Killing--Part Two


‘BOTH their parents were murdered?’ Brand cried.

‘Surprised you, eh?  I know something you don’t know, eh?  Put one over on you, eh?’ Avery said.

‘Let’s not get carried away.  I just didn’t know, that’s all.’

‘Did whoever did that----do this?’ asked Rocco.

‘We’re looking for a possible connection now.’

‘Where do you look for something like that?,’ inquired Brand.

‘You don’t think I’m going to reveal the department’s top secret methods to a yutz like you, do you?’

‘What’s a yutz?’

Costello had been examining another player’s locker. ‘Ave, take a look at this.’

In Duffy Donner’s locker there was a Stoats jersey.


Avery, the senior man on the squad, didn’t think so.  ‘I don’t think so,’ he said.  ‘There isn’t a reason on this green earth that anyone on this club should have another team’s jersey in their possession.  And the team the Pelicans beat in the Series last year, too. I think we should have a talk with this mug.  And he can’t hit, either.’

Brand said, ‘He can hit, all right.  He gave me a shiner--’

At that very moment, Duffy Donner himself walked into the clubhouse, surprised to find two detectives, one attendant, and one bystander at his locker looking at him as if he’d suddenly sprouted another head.

‘Something I can do for you guys?,’ he spoke, warily.

This time Costello took the lead and cut right to the chase.  ‘Looks a little funny, having a Stoats shirt in your locker, Donner.’

‘My kid is a fan of Jumbo Joey Jones, what about it?’

‘Nothing, except you ought to be your kid’s favorite player.’

‘Tell that to him!’

‘Just as a matter of curiosity, where you been the last couple hours?’

‘At home, where do you think?  You saw I just got here.’

‘When was the last time you saw the O’Sullivan boys?’

‘Right here, last night, why?’

‘They’ve both been murdered!’  Sometimes Avery liked to blurt out shocking information like that, just to gauge someone’s reaction. Donner showed two distinct expressions--disbelief, followed by defensive wariness.  But neither the authorities nor Rocco Lampone nor Brand was prepared for what came next:

‘Good, they had it coming!’

After a moment of stunned silence, it was Costello who found his voice.  ‘How do you figure they had it coming, Duffy?’

‘They cost me money and I’m glad they got it!’

‘Care to explain?’ Avery was alert now, eyes alight, observing and recording every nuance of the catcher’s behavior.

‘They blew the Series last year and cost me a bundle!’

Don’t you know you’re not supposed to bet on ballgames?’

‘What’s the diff?  I was on the Grifters last year anyway, it’s not like I bet against myself!’

“I knew they shouldn’t have put a team in Vegas,’ muttered Costello.

‘Doesn’t matter---look at rule 21,’ offered Avery.

There was something disquieting about this, something nagging at Brand.  All at once he realized what it was.  ‘But we won the Series last year!’

Avery said, ‘Hey, that’s right!  The Pelicans didn’t blow it! Don’t tell me you bet on the Stoats, Donner!’

‘I did. But I’m not taking no gambling rap!  You know who was running the book on this?  Mr. and Mrs. O’Sullivan!  Yep-Mr. and Mrs. Fine Upstanding Citizens!’

‘Hey, that’s right!  I bet on the Kentucky Derby with them!’

‘Quiet, Brand.  You think I care how you throw your money away? Why did you bet on the Stoats, Donner?’

‘Word around the league was that the Pelicans were mad at Old Man McCreedy for being so cheap and that some of the boys had been gotten to and that the Series was in the bag.  And when I got traded over here in spring training, I saw St. Sean and St. Jimmy weren’t anywhere near their nice clean image. I know they were talking to some connected guys about it. I heard money changed hands, but they welshed.  Just like their no-good parents!’

‘What about their parents?’

‘Everybody knew they welshed on bets all the time!  They cost me--’

‘Cost you what? What else do you know about this?’


Just then, a crash, then Brand spoke up.  ‘Owwwwww!’  He was hopping up and down, clutching one foot.

‘Pipe down!  Wait a minute, what’s the matter with you?’  

‘This darn can of paint fell on my big toe!  Owwwwwww!’

‘Ah, quit your moaning--waitaminute! This isn’t paint, it’s pine tar!’

‘Did you steal that can out of my storeroom?’ shouted Rocco.

Avery glared at Donner. ‘What’s a giant economy size can of pine tar doing in your locker, champ?’

‘To keep my grip on the bat, what do you think?’

‘I think you had sixteen at bats last year. This is enough to last you ten careers!’

‘Alvarez is through. I’m going to start next year.’

‘Says you.’

‘Why, you--’  Suddenly realizing that he was about to belt a cop, Donner thought better of it and dropped his hands.

‘Pretty quick to use your dukes, eh, Donner?  That’s a mighty quick temper you got there.’

Brand said, ‘Yeah!’

‘Quiet, Brand.  Say--what were you saying before about getting a shiner from this mug?’

‘I did!  He socked me just the other day when I asked him if he’d heard from Mr. and Mrs. O’Sullivan lately.’

‘Well, Donner?’

‘So I overreacted. They welched and owed me a lot of money.  I told you that.’

Costello spoke up. ‘Chief, I remember that case, it was one of the first I worked on after I got promoted. Weren’t they killed by blunt instrument trauma?’

‘They were.’

‘Like from a Louisville Slugger?’

‘Like from a Louisville Slugger.’

‘And the O’Sullivan boys--dead from an overdose of pine tar.’

Brand saw it first--a wild, caged-animal look in Donner’s eyes.  The catcher grabbed a bat from his locker and started swinging wildly. ‘You won’t pin this on me!  Those crooks deserved to die!’

Costello feinted and dodged to Donner’s left while Avery crept up behind him and grabbed the bat.  ‘Looks like your swing isn’t any better now than it was last season--hello!  What’s this? Looks like your wagon tongue is cracked in a couple of places and---oho!’

Red streaks were all over the head of the bat.  The detectives had put it down as one of the loud designs so popular today, while Brand hadn’t noticed at all.

‘Costello, what do you bet that these marks test positive for blood?’

‘What?  Avery, we can’t bet in this clubhouse!  Haven’t you read Rule 21?’


From the Official Baseball Rules Section 21:

  1. d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES.  Any player, umpire, or club official or
    employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in
    connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared
    ineligible for one year.

      Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall
    bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which
    the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

‘So there was a plot for our own club to tank the World Series, but in the end, they didn’t?’ Brand wanted to know.

‘In the end, they couldn’t.  The O’Sullivans were just too honest!’

‘Too honest!  Fah!  They cost me the loot I was counting on for a new downstairs bathroom!’  Donner looked downcast over his lost bathroom, more so than over the likely immediate end of his career or the loss of his freedom. He looked down at his broken, bloodied bat. ‘That was my gamer.  I’ll never find another stick like that.’

‘You’ll have a long time to wonder why you didn’t get rid of the murder weapon, chump!,’ barked Avery.

Costello offered, ‘So it was a double cross that went bad.’

With a world-weary sigh, Detective Avery summed it up. ‘They turned the double play, but just couldn’t turn the double cross.’

Check out some of these literary home runs:

We have some bound volumes of the Strand Magazine, which was published in London between 1891 and 1950, and was perhaps best known for publishing the short fiction of A.C. Doyle.  One article in this bound volume from 1898 showcases the growing popularity of baseball in the UK one hundred and eighteen years ago!

The bound volumes of the Strand are chock full of illustrations (Their advertising tag line was ‘An illustration on every page,’ and they did it too!  A major selling point when photographic reproduction was in its infancy.) and interesting reading, covering a very wide variety of topics. The magazine was resurrected in 1998 and is still going strong today!


Perhaps some of you reading these articles (hello?) collected baseball cards.  Well, here’s the adult mystery version:


Collect ‘em all!  Trade with your friends!  Attach them to spokes of your bike to make a racket! But most of all, check out the snazzy cover reproductions of the first editions of some of the noteworthy mystery novels over the years on the front of the cards and the synopsis and publishing info on the back! Exclusive to Mysterious and only 500 sets produced.  Once gone, they are gone for good, so don’t fail to order today.


Questions/Comments/Batting Helmet?


Written by Ian Kern — April 11, 2016

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

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