What makes Ed special is that she is more than an accomplished pitcher in men’s baseball. She is talented enough to be a professional prospect.
Everhart cleverly builds Ed’s credibility by making her a knuckleball pitcher. The knuckleball requires more finesse than arm strength to throw well. A gifted female athlete could throw a knuckleball well.
I appreciated that Everhart did not make Ed a Hollywood character. She is not a beauty queen on the mound. While a commanding 6’ tall and 200 pounds in weight she is a plain looking woman. What she achieves will be based on her ability not her looks. There is the potential for a movie to be made from this book but you can be sure Hollywood would never cast a plain Ed.
Her father, Leland, reaches out to hire Eli to investigate the threats and protect Ed. The vicious and vulgar written threats have a real sense of menace.
There are several plausible sources to the threats. The leading suspect is Olin Meekins. He had been fired by Cook College as coach of Ed’s team. An evangelical preacher as well as a baseball coach Meekins is now spending his spare time leading protests against Ed playing baseball. The protesters have some feudal notions about the place of women in society.
Ed, beyond her aversion to being called Eddie, is strong willed in other ways. She has the self-absorbed personality of many elite athletes. She is indifferent to those around her. She speaks bluntly. Her life is focused on becoming a major league ballplayer.
A former college classmate of Ed discusses her personality:
“Everybody’s got their hobby, I suppose. Hers is achievement ……. Ed is what’s known as a grade grubber. She cares nothing about learning or knowledge or wisdom …. Results … she cares only about results.”
Cook County Sheriff Hage has conducted a perfunctory investigation of the death threats. While assigning an officer to protect Ed her safety is a low priority to the Sheriff.
Sheriff Hage is riled by Sharpe’s irreverence and quick wit. He has no patience for Eli .
With the death threats having been shared on the internet the information has swept around America.
Media have been drawn to the story. On the scene when Eli arrives in Cook, South Carolina is a TV van from a local station. He is shaken when he recognizes the beautiful blonde reporter. She is Vivian Vaughn, formerly Sophie Gibson, the first of his five fiancées.
Eli and Vivian broke up after a tragedy 20 years earlier that is intensely personal. The pain has barely eased over the years. The story of their loss helps explain Eli’s emotional vulnerability.
During the book Eli and Vivian haltingly approach a new relationship.
Within Ed’s family there is a gender twist as the alcoholic parent wearing camouflage gear to the law office and working on the taxidermy of animals she has shot is Ed’s mother, Linda Chavis. It is a Mom in financial trouble who is pushing to help Ed with her finances for, if Ed is drafted in the first round, a $1.5 million signing bonus is possible. Ed is utterly disdainful of her mother and refuses to talk to her.
Ed, Not Eddie is the best written of the Eli Sharpe mysteries. There are strong characters with an intriguing plot. Best of all the narrative flows smoothly. Pages glide by. It has the potential to be a break through book for Everhart. I only fear that the lack of sex and minimal violence will hold down sales.
Eli has become of my favourite 21st century sleuths. Everhart’s series is the best mystery baseball series I have read since the Kate Henry mysteries of the late Alison Gordon.