About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Prairie Hardball by Alison Gordon

27. – 588.) Prairie Hardball by Alison Gordon – I re-read my favourite Saskatchewan mystery as I was not writing reviews when I read it the first time. I love the book because it is set in rural Saskatchewan, has a baseball theme, focuses on the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame of which I am Second Vice-President and features the induction banquet for the Saskatchewan women who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League which I attended in the mid-1990’s. Over half of the 50 plus Canadian women who played in the league were from Saskatchewan. I examined every character in the book carefully but none resemble me.
            In the book, Kate Henry has returned to Saskatchewan to accompany her parents to Battleford where her mother, Helen Henry, will be one of the inductees. She had played several seasons for the Racine Belles. Joining Kate is her partner, Andy Munro, a Toronto police inspector on his first trip to Saskatchewan.
            Gordon’s description of Kate’s hometown, Indian Head, is a perfect portrayal of small town Saskatchewan. She has been a skilful observer of us.
            At the banquet Virna Wilton creates a grand entrance by wearing her old uniform over 40 years after she last played baseball. (I can vividly recall the actual lady who wore her uniform to the induction banquet. She looked great.)
            The banquet was Saskatchewan charming. It is hard for me to distinguish real life memories from Gordon’s description. It was a nice evening honouring a group of women who had never received the recognition due them.
            In the book everyone is shocked when Virna is murdered. Andy is asked to help the local RCMP. The nosy Kate demands to know everything going on in the investigation. The probing of lives brings out secrets that startle and even shock Kate. Life in the AAGPBL was more complex than she realized.
            The book goes into some detail on the AAGPL which existed from the early 1940’s to the mid-1950’s. The movie, A League of Their Own, with Madonna, Geena Davis and Tom Hanks was a Hollywood version of the league. It was not sensationalized as much as many Hollywood movies but Gordon’s description of the league is far more factual.
            Within the book Helen was a woman professional baseball playing pioneer and Kate was a woman professional baseball sports writing pioneer. (In real life Gordon was the first woman journalist to cover major league baseball in Canada.)
            Those young woman who went South from Saskatchewan to play baseball were an intrepid group leaving friends and family to play sports at a time when travel was limited and society offered little support for women making any career let alone an athletic career. I met several of the actual players from Saskatchewan and wrote about them for the sports column I write in Melfort. They were as gracious and lively as the women described by Gordon.
            The mystery flows well. I know I am enjoying a book when the pages glide by and there is no consciousness of time passing. It is the best rural Saskatchewan mystery. (May 21/11)


  1. Bill - Thanks for introducing me to this one. I don't know much about the AAGPBL, and this novel sounds as though it provides insights on that as well as a corker of a mystery. Add to that the authentic look at Saskatchewan and I can see why it's your favourite. It's also on my TBR now.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. A mystery can educate while it entertains us. I believe you will find that combination in Prairie Hardball.