#16 — The Cincinnati Red Stalkings!

Dear Weblog Superfans,

More progress: I finished my first Mickey Rawlings baseball mystery book, The Cincinnati Red Stalkings! It’s actually the fifth in the series, but they’re not sequential in terms of plot, so I didn’t mind. Very basically (I don’t want to ruin it for all of you, since I’m sure you’ll want to get it out of the library), Mickey is a utility infielder for the Cincinnati Reds. (That means he’s only OK, that he doesn’t play every day. This is a technique used by the author, Troy Soos, to both gain sympathy from the reader for Mickey and to allow for him to exist in real-life history without actually asking the reader to rethink history. If that makes sense. Snooty snooty writer talk.)

The Cincinnati Red StalkingsThe Cincinnati Reds are, at this point, not a very good baseball team, despite the fact that many of them played for the Reds in the 1919 World Series, which they won. But. The 1919 World Series was the one that the White Sox threw, and so lots of people think that the Reds were never any good, that they only ever succeeded because other guys were cheating. And so, to boost fan morale, the Reds management people decide to create an exhibit, housed in the Reds’ stadium, about the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, which was the first professional baseball team. They toured the US and went undefeated, and it was all a wonderful, great thing.

But. The curator of this exhibit is killed! And Mickey knew him, sort of! And then he finds, hidden inside a bit of memorabilia that the curator gave to him, a note saying that a girl was murdered in 1869! But it doesn’t say who killed the girl! You know the drill. It goes nuts from there, with Mickey being implicated in a gambling scandal while the White Sox are being tried for cheating the fans or whatever, and then getting attacked a few times, and then being accused of murder, and so on.

So it’s fluff. But it’s got a lot of pretty cool baseball history, like the fact that the stitches on baseballs used to be black (but only in certain leagues), and then black and red (again, only sometimes), and so on. Minutia that only Troy Soos and I probably care about. And the story itself is compelling, as most mysteries are, despite the formula. (I probably sound more down on mysteries than I actually am; I read few of them, but I admire the skill needed to put them together convincingly, especially since readers of mysteries know the formula as much as the authors do, and so will take to task anybody who sucks at writing them.)

I enjoyed this book, and will likely keep it. At least for a while. It’s hardback, which makes it more difficult to travel with, but it’s my kind of fluff and would be welcome on a beach. I also have Murder at Wrigley Field, the third of the Mickey Rawlings books, which I’ll try some other time I need a nice break from whatever.

So. 3/15 down for #16!

Love,
msb

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