Review: Private investigator Sam Skarda is hired by the owner of the Boston Red Sox to track down and stop an extortionist in Green Monster, the second mystery in this series by Rick Shefchik.
For Lou Kenwood, the self-made billionaire owner of the Red Sox, life is good. His beloved team has now won two World Series under his leadership and he's revered by people of Boston. But someone wants to take that all away, threatening to go public in 5 days with evidence that the 2004 World Series was fixed. The written note was short and to the point: pay $50 million or be exposed. It was signed "Babe Ruth". Fearing publicity and loath to involve the police, Kenwood uses his connections to hire Sam Skarda, a former police officer working as a private investigator in Minneapolis, who he trusts can investigate the case without bringing any attention to it. Skarda quickly locates some of those involved in the scheme, but realizes time may run out before he can put a name to "Babe Ruth" and prevent a scandal from rocking the sports world.
Fans of baseball novels will undoubtedly be thrilled with Green Monster and overlook the flaws that make this mystery no better than average. The plot itself is rather disjointed and tends to be inconsistent in terms of its credibility. There are long stretches on the history of baseball (especially some of its more disreputable periods) that may appeal to sports enthusiasts, but are likely to be skimmed over by most readers. Skarda's relationship with Kenwood's assistant, Heather Canby, is prurient to say the very least. Sex may add color and interest for some to the story but it accomplishes little in the way of advancing the plot here. The subplot set in Venezuela is also a distraction and is not only unnecessary but seems to exist merely as transitional filler. But probably the most serious flaw here is that Green Monster is set up as a whodunit-style mystery yet the identity of "Babe Ruth" is fairly obvious from early on in the story. Red herrings and alternate suspects are eventually proffered, but too late to generate any real suspense.
A more tightly-constructed plot might have helped Shefchik pull off the "sports noir"-type novel he seems to have attempted. To use a baseball metaphor, he didn't strike out with Green Monster, but did manage to advance the runner. Maybe the third inning of the series will be more successful.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Green Monster for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), March 2007
ISBN-13: 9781590584118; ISBN-10: 1590584112
Location(s) referenced in Green Monster: Boston, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California, Venezuela
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Green Monster by Rick Shefchik — A Sam Skarda Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $24.95