GONE FROM THE GAME

By Christopher Fahy

Limerock Books, 2014

301 pages, $15.95

ISBN 978-0-9746589-7-1

 

The game of baseball may be America’s pastime, but for former Boston Red Sox pitcher Nick Hudson it is also the arena for vengeance. Nick, you see, intends to kill Babe Ruth.

“Gone From The Game” is a unique morality play, pitting a man’s desire for revenge against his sense of right and wrong. Thomaston author Christopher Fahy has written 11 previous novels, including “Breaking Point” and “The Christmas Star.”

His novels are always original ideas, well-crafted and poignant, with subtle lessons that reveal much about human nature, self-awareness and responsibility.

In 1928, Nick is released from a mental hospital where he’s spent the last nine years as a shell-shocked World War I combat veteran. Prior to the war, he and Babe Ruth were roommates and Red Sox teammates. And Nick was a pretty good pitcher back then.

Now, however, he is 34 years old, confused and adrift in the heady post-war world of Prohibition, unequal prosperity and Babe Ruth’s fame as the world’s best baseball player. When Nick returns to his hometown of Philadelphia, he discovers a secret about Ruth that inflames him and drives him to a murder plot — he’s going to assassinate Ruth in a stadium full of baseball fans during a game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees.

As Nick refines his plan, he becomes attached to an attractive war widow and her sick little boy — an unexpected entanglement that will test his conscience and provide motivation for one desperate good deed that will nearly backfire. And then Nick learns the truth about Babe Ruth and himself.

Loaded with baseball history with a full roster of star players in real games, Fahy’s thoughtful tale offers exciting sports entertainment as well as a compelling and inspirational human drama.

 

SUNRISE

By Al Lamanda

Five Star, 2013

291 pages, $25.95

ISBN 978-1-4328-2714-4

 

When a crime is committed the first question the police ask is, “Who gains?” When an unusual murder is committed, ex-cop John Bekker knows the question, but can’t find the answer. And that makes him just a bit angry.

“Sunrise” is Maine author Al Lamanda’s fifth mystery, the second featuring ex-cop and ex-drunk John Bekker (after 2012’s “Sunset”). The previous book was an excellent mystery but this one is even better, more tightly wrapped, with more suspense, action, plot twists and Bekker’s signature snappy dialogue.

Carly Simms — the hard-boiled county prosecutor and Bekker’s pal — is in big trouble, charged with the first-degree murder of a male lover half her age. Salaciously dubbed the “Cougar Killer” by the press, the evidence against her is overwhelming, including her fuzzy admission that she might have killed him. However, Bekker and the county sheriff have a hunch that she could be innocent.

Bekker cleverly persuades a high-profile and very expensive mob lawyer to defend Simms while he investigates the accused and the victim, trying to find an angle to either free or convict his friend. The mob lawyer is a legal strategy genius, and he and Bekker use a polygraph, hypnotism and some well-placed press leaks to stall the court, influence the public and possibly flush some creeps from the shadows.

Bekker’s investigation reveals the victim was raised in a Utah boys’ orphanage. When several of the victim’s orphanage friends are murdered in a similar fashion to the Simms case, Bekker goes into overdrive, but he still can’t answer the question of “who gains?” until he sets himself up as a target with surprising results.

Bekker fans will love this one, especially as he still smokes cigarettes, drinks coffee, eats doughnuts and dishes out some delightfully satisfying punishment to unsuspecting low-lifes.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.