I'm extremely pleased to be able to share with readers the very positive critique BookLife Reviews gave my baseball novel Dead Ball. BookLife is a website of Publishers Weekly, a prestigious international news platform of book publishing and bookselling.
BookLife's Dead Ball Review
Hutchinson’s engrossing second historical baseball thriller (after Over the Right Field Wall) begins in 1912 when St. Louis Cardinal Hal Gerecke throws a life-altering pitch at Boston Braves shortstop Rube Wannamaker. Rube doesn’t see the toss coming due to the ball’s dirtied state and is rendered comatose, later vegetative, by the impact. Gutted by his mistake, Hal abandons baseball for married life with spunky Gracie Matthews, but recruiters for the newly formed and supposedly safer Mutual League soon pull him out of retirement. However, certain folks—including mysterious baseball newcomer Johnny Wagner—believe Hal purposely maimed Rube and are out for blood, putting Hal’s life in serious danger.
Hal, Johnny, and Gracie are the most developed characters; the others can feel slightly flat. As Johnny and other players threaten violence, readers will admire how Hal maintains integrity by rarely picking a fight and always thinking of his wife’s safety first. Though this distinct moral compass can seem slightly exaggerated, it leaves readers reassured that Hal would never intentionally harm Rube. Hal is an honorable man whose chivalry is emphasized through his respectful treatment of Gracie and Hannah McGuire, a Boston nurse he befriends. His bashful awe of the two women’s beauty is a little reductive but sweetly innocent, and gives readers another reason to root for him.
Hutchinson echoes film noir and hard-boiled crime novels through ominous foreshadowing and chapter-ending cliff-hangers. Readers observe Johnny’s moves where Hal doesn’t, creating a larger sense of danger for the protagonist. It’s exhilarating to follow Hal and Gracie through the historic streets of Boston, New York, and St. Louis as they try to deduce who is truly after them and sort the good guys from the bad guys in the intense world of pre-regulation baseball. Crime fans and baseball fanatics alike will be enthralled by this retro tale of love and revenge.
Takeaway: Historically accurate details of pre-regulation baseball and nail-biting suspense will captivate crime and sports fans.
Great for fans of Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out, Darryl Brock’s If I Never Get Back, David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49, W.P. Kinsella.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: - Editing: A- Marketing copy: B+