Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating Mysteries: Sports

June is Great Outdoors Month, and that provides me my excuse for why this post is a bit late: I was on holiday down in the Mule Mountains of Cochise County, Arizona... enjoying the great outdoors! I've already posted some of the photos I took while Denis and I were down there on my Facebook page, but you'll also be seeing them in my Wordless Wednesday posts as well.

Enough of me. Let's get down to what this week is all about. Last week, I celebrated authors whose characters were archaeologists or anthropologists, and this week it's time to spotlight some sportsmen. One of the kings of "sports mysteries" would undoubtedly be Dick Francis, who showed us all how well suited the world of horse racing is to crime fiction. The four authors I'll be spotlighting in this post might not be quite as well known as Mr. Francis, but each of them writes a mean mystery!

Troy Soos
Troy Soos worked as a research physicist at MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science and at Los Alamos National Laboratory studying photonuclear and pion-nucleon interactions with accelerators. (If you're feeling a tad under-educated at this point, join the club.) He's also written two mystery series that are both hits here at Casa Kittling, but only one of them fits this week's category.

Mickey Rawlings is a 1910s journeyman second baseman traveling the USA in the series my husband has really enjoyed. There are six books in this series: Murder at Fenway Park (1994), Murder at Ebbets Field (1995), Murder at Wrigley Field (1996), Hunting a Detroit Tiger (1997), The Cincinnati Red Stalkings (1998), and Hanging Curve (1999).

Publishers Weekly enjoyed the first book in the series as much as Denis did:

On a visit to Cooperstown, Mickey Rawlings, the oldest living ex-ballplayer, discovers his baseball card and is transported back to the Boston of April 1912--when the newspapers are full of stories about the Titanic , which has just sunk, and Fenway Park is brand new. Rawlings, a utility infielder just brought up by the Red Sox, reports to Fenway and trips over the body of Red Corriden, whose head has been smashed by a baseball bat. Rawlings, who throws up on the corpse, is grilled by Capt. O'Malley of the local precinct and Robert Tyler, the treasurer of the Red Sox. Joining the ball club in New York, Rawlings wonders why the the papers aren't covering the murder; then he learns from one of Tyler's flunkeys that the body was moved to avoid embarrassing the Red Sox. Next he finds out that Corriden was an unwitting accomplice in an effort to cheat Ty Cobb out of the 1910 batting championship and that some people have long memories. After the flunkey is murdered, Capt. O'Malley has more questions for his favorite suspect. Meanwhile readers will suspect ornery Cobb, crooked teammates and the PR-conscious club treasurer. Soos's delightful debut, mixing suspense, period detail and such legendary baseball greats as Cobb, Walter Johnson, Smokey Joe Wood and Tris Speaker, is a four-bagger that will leave readers eager for subsequent innings. 

Phoebe Atwood Taylor
Phoebe Atwood Taylor wrote 24 novels featuring the "Codfish Sherlock", Asey Mayo, a former sailor and auto racer who lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Taylor grew up in Boston and was quite familiar with Cape Cod, using her knowledge to fill her books with local color. Her work is light in tone and fun and easy to read. Critic Dilys Winn called her the "mystery equivalent to Buster Keaton."

The first six books in the Asey Mayo series are The Cape Cod Mystery (1931), Death Lights a Candle (1932), The Mystery of the Cape Cod Players (1933), The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern (1934), Sandbar Sinister (1934), and Deathblow Hill (1935).

Back by popular demand for the first time in years, The Countryman Press is pleased to reissue four Cape Cod mysteries featuring the witty and salty Asey Mayo, "A local handyman who knows something about police work and everything about everybody's business" (Marilyn Stasio, Mystery Alley). Set within the brooding landscape of Cape Cod, these classic who-dunits are sure to please dedicated Phoebe Atwood Taylor fans and newcomer mystery buffs alike. First, a best-selling author turns up dead. Then Asey's best friend becomes the chief suspect and Asey knows he has to do something. There's only one clue: a sardine can. And only one weekend to clear it all up. 

John Galligan

John Galligan has had an interesting employment history: "In addition to being a novelist and teacher, John has worked as a newspaper journalist, feature-film screenwriter, house painter, au pair, ESL teacher, cab driver, and freezer boy in a salmon cannery."

He also writes the Fly Fishing mysteries featuring Ned "Dog" Oglivie who travels the United States in a 1984 RV, trout fishing until his money runs out.

There are four books in the series so far: The Nail Knot (2003), The Blood Knot (2005), The Clinch Knot (2008), and The Wind Knot (2011).

Driven by tragedy to turn his back on human society, the Dog is on a quest to fish himself into oblivion. And he’s nearly made it. Playing the back highways of America in a wounded old RV . . . provisioned with a supply of peanut butter sandwiches, bad cigars, and vodka-Tang . . . armed with a loaded pistol. . . the Dog is nearly at the end of his tether when he rolls into little Black Earth, Wisconsin, intending to fish the yellow sally stonefly hatch . . . and finds a body instead.

Who killed Jake Jacobs, fellow fly fisher and late-coming agitator who was trying to save Black Earth Creek? Why was Jacobs disfigured in such a peculiar way? Why does the Dog give a damn? Can he rekindle his faith and interest in humankind? By caring about the death of a stranger, can the Dog recover his own life? Can he untie The Nail Knot?

John Corrigan
John Corrigan, originally from Augusta, Maine, now lives in Pomfret, Connecticut, with his wife and three daughters. He teaches Advanced Placement English and Mystery Literature, among other courses, and coaches hockey and golf.

He also writes a series of mysteries featuring Jack Austin, a golf player on the PGA circuit.

There are five books in the series to date: Cut Shot (2001), Snap Hook (2004), Center Cut (2004), Bad Lie (2005), and Out of Bounds (2006).

Life is pretty good for PGA Tour veteran Jack Austin. Like a snap-hook out of nowhere; however, Jack's world comes crashing down around him. At a tournament, rookie Hutch Gainer reveals to Jack that a Mafia-run gambling ring has invaded the Tour and Hutch is in the middle of it. Angry at first, Jack refuses to help. But after his fiancee Lisa goes looking for answers, Jack is forced to get involved in an attempt to prevent a scandal. When Hutch's sponsor turns up dead and the rookie is arrested for murder Jack enters the underworld in order to solve the crime, protect Lisa, and save the game he loves. 

I have Taylor's The Cape Cod Mystery sitting on a shelf waiting to be read. Asey Mayo sounds like my kind of character! I know that many of my faithful readers are female, and these books may not sound like your favored cup of Darjeeling, but I'll bet that, even if you're not willing to try these authors, there are men in your lives who would be more than willing to crack open a few of these titles. Just when is Father's Day, anyway?

Stop by next Saturday when Celebrating Mysteries will be back on schedule featuring more mysteries set in the great outdoors!


  1. I'll have to look for Troy Soos books since I'm a baseball fan and I love the two old baseball parks, Wrigley and Fenway. I'm surprised no one has written a series about baseball and its environs before, to my knowledge at least. Really, anyone who will pose with Winnie the Pooh has to be a good guy, right?

  2. Barbara-- There are a couple of other mystery series with a baseball theme, although the authors' names escape me. Denis liked those as well.


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