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The Setup Man ()

Just in time for Spring Training comes this fine private eye novel with a hero who is a LOOGY for the San Jose Bay Dogs. Johnny Adcock has had a solid career as a left-handed reliever who is only called on late in games to get the opposing team's left-handed hitters out (thus, a Left-Handed One Out Guy).

But in planning for a career beyond the game, he started checking up on other players wives for them. In the process, he's become the semi-official gumshoe of America's pastime.

Then his catcher--Frankie Herrera--comes to him with a more unusual problem. Before they married, Frankie's wife starred in a low-rent porn film and someone is getting ready to blackmail them with it.

Before Johnny can even get into the case, Frankie and a young girl die in a car crash, but the seductive widow pushes him to continue. Johnny, with the help of current and former teammates, pursues leads as more bodies drop and the case wends right to the heart (er...groin) of the game.

Author T.T. Monday handles the blend of baseball and noir quite well. I only noticed one baseball mistake--a player can't appear in the majors until he's added to the 40 man roster. And my only quarrel with the story is that Johnny accepts sudden violence and engages in criminality a bit more casually than we might expect him too. He's also painfully slow to figure out who the bad guy is.

But one hopes that the (presumably pseudonymous) author plans a series because on the basis of this debut, there could be some really fine adventures to come.


Grade: (B)