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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Double Switch by T.T. Monday (Part I)

Double Switch by T.T. Monday (Part I) – Johnny Adcock is a 36 year old left hand specialist reliever for the San Jose Bay Dogs in Major League baseball. A 14 year veteran he is brought into games, usually the 8th inning and often with runners on base, when the Bay Dogs are facing a tough left hand hitter and the game is on the line. Adcock may work 10 minutes a night. In a busy week he works 3 nights.

Off the field he clearly has lots of down time. Beyond some physical conditioning Adcock has little to do in baseball after his half hour of work per week but he has spent a lifetime honing his pitching skills and training himself mentally to be ready for those 10 minutes of intense pressure in a game.

If you understand the above two paragraphs Double Switch is a book for you. Monday, actually a pseudonym for Nick Taylor, knows major league baseball and does not make the book a primer for baseball. The subtleties of game action and preparation are skilfully described.

Writers who set their mystery in the world of sports face a choice in how to approach the sport at the heart of their book.

They can keep the descriptions simple to allow readers with little or no knowledge of the sport to be able to follow the story. They can minimize the actual sports content of the plot and focus on the characters and the mystery.

In the Eli Sharpe series by Max Everhart there is little recall by Sharpe of his past playing days and only modest portrayals of current game action for those characters playing the game.

In an exchange of letters Max explained:

         When I originally began writing this series, I envisioned
         the stories moving very quickly, so describing actual game
         action was not something I felt I could (or should)
         include.  Too, while I love baseball and could discuss—at
         great length—the endless subtleties and nuisances of the
         game, I wanted (and want) the novels to appeal to more
         than just baseball fans.

The late Alison Gordon wrote a series of mysteries with Toronto newspaper reporter, Kate Henry, as her sleuth. Henry would touch on games played but not discuss them. In the final book of the series and my favourite Saskatchewan mystery, Prairie Hardball, she sets a mystery around the induction into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame of the women from our province who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Beyond mention of the joy they had playing professional ball the games are not discussed.

Monday, in Double Switch, has taken the third approach of entering into the depths of the beauty and challenge of baseball. He discusses the thought a professional pitcher puts into pitching in a tough situation:
         With the count 0-2, I want to play with him a little.
         Eventually, Diggy figures out what I have in mind, and I
         deliver: a slider outside, about a foot off the plate, that
         bounces and sends up a puff of dust.......

         I throw another slider in the dirt that Barrow takes for ball
         two ..........

        I plant my left foot on the rubber and stare in. For the third
        time, Diggy gives the signal for the changeup low and inside. I
        shake him off, and then let him cycle through all the signs,
        refusing them all one by one. When he returns to the change I

I was reminded of The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. In that lovely book Harbach’s plot line includes wonderful descriptions of game action. A powerful plot line involves the hero,  Henry Skrimshander, suddenly becoming unable to throw accurately from shortstop to first base. The mind is interfering with the fundamentally simple skill of throwing the ball.

My preference, whether the story features a lawyer or a ballplayer, is to explore what is happening in court or on the ball diamond. I do not want plots brought down to generic depictions. Not every reader will appreciate that the Double Switch, while appropriate for the plot, is also the description of a managerial strategy in late inning baseball games where the league involved does not have designated hitters. I believe enough readers will grasp the baseball intricacies of the book.

For those not initiated into the game or simply uninterested it is a good mystery that does not require the reader to know baseball.

My next post will actually discuss the story.


  1. That's really an important decision for the writer, Bill, whether to explore a topic in depth (in this case, baseball), or not. In general, I'm with you in my preference for depth. That said, though, I also want the author to provide information that would be very hard for me to work out (or look up) on my own. And you make a good point about the mystery in such books. In my opinion, no matter how in-depth a story is, the mystery itself needs to be told in an accessible way.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Now I no longer want books with the depth of information of a James Michener but I am glad when a writer can show a real understanding of the theme of the mystery.

  2. Your opening could have been designed for me - I was puzzling over the first few sentences, then caught your subsequent line letting me off... look forward to reading more in your next.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Thought I would take a different approach on this review.