Baseball season is well under way, so it’s time to start reading about fictional murder in our favorite ballparks. Here are some of my favorite series and standalones, and even a short story anthology that talks about the great American pastime. So let’s play ball…
The Mickey Rawlings Series, by Troy Soos
Soos wrote six baseball mysteries: Murder at Ebbets Field, Murder at Fenway Park, Hunting a Detriot Tiger, Murder at Wrigley Field, The Cincinnati Red Stalkings, and Hanging Curve. My favorite is Murder At Ebbets Field but that might be because I bleed Dodger Blue.
Originally this series came out in the 1990s, but Kensington has rereleased them with new covers (the Hanging Curve reissue comes out July 30, 2013).
Murderer’s Row: Original Baseball Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler
This short story anthology includes gems from many best-selling favorites including Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, Max Allan Collins, Robert B. Parker, Brendan DuBois, and Elmore Leonard, just to name a few. Murderer’s Row, the nickname for the 1927 New York Yankees lineup, is borrowed deftly here.
Double Play and Mortal Stakes by Robert B. Parker
Parker wrote two baseball books, one Spenser and one standalone non-mystery. Double Play, the standalone novel, takes place at the time Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the major leagues, took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is told mainly through the eyes of his bodyguard. I love this book, especially the snippets of Parker’s own experience growing up as a Dodger fan. But even baseball fans who don’t root for the Dodgers will enjoy Double Play.
Mortal Stakes is a Spenser novel about a Boston Red Sox pitcher who might be throwing games and his wife who is being blackmailed. As the blurb copy says:
America’s favorite pastime has suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move means strike three, with Spenser out for good!
The Final Detail By Harlan Coben
The Final Detail is the sixth novel in Coben’s much beloved Myron Bolitar sports agent series. In this book, Bolitar’s colleague at the agency, Esperanza, is arrested for the murder of a has-been baseball star attempting a comeback. Myron tries to help her but things get complicated when evidence starts pointing to him.
The Duffy House Mysteries, by Crabbe Evers
Crabbe Evers wrote four baseball mysteries that, like the Troy Soos books, were published in the 1990s. Evers’s books include: Bleeding Dodger Blue, Tigers Burning, Murderer’s Row, and Fear in Fenway. They all star a retired Chicago sportswriter who is sent out to various ballparks by the baseball commissioner to resolve issues ranging from arson to murder. Duffy always takes his niece “Petey” with him and she proves to be quite useful.
The Plot to Kill Jackie Robinson & The Last Man Out, by Donald Honig
Honig, better known for his baseball nonfiction (The Man in the Dugout), wrote two baseball-themed thrillers both associated with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The first centered on a fictional plot to kill Jackie Robinson. The second is about a Dodger who is accused of murdering a wealthy socialite. Joe Tinker, a sportswriter, is the protagonist in both books.
Sacrifice Fly by Tim O’Mara
In this story by Tim O’Mara, baseball is a secondary character but present all the same. When a schoolteacher tries to find a student who has stopped going to school—a baseball star who has potential for scholarships—he finds the boy’s father murdered. Could the boy be guilty of this crime? This Criminal Element Fresh Meat review by Doreen Sheridan will tell you more.
I’m sure this list is a little Dodger-centric. What did I miss? What are some of your favorite baseball mysteries?