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CRIME DOESN'T TAKE A HOLIDAY IN WARTIME

Murder At Wrigley Field - Troy Soos

In "MURDER AT WRIGLEY FIELD", we are reacquainted with Mickey Rawlings the utility ballplayer. He's now playing full-time with the Chicago Cubs as a second baseman.

It is the summer of 1918. America, now fully engaged in the First World War, is caught up in anti-German, hyperpatriotic fervor. Anything remotely German was widely regarded as anathema. Rawlings is rooming with his teammate Willie Kaiser, who had been called up by the Cubs after the previous season to play shortstop. In that position, Kaiser soon proves to be especially adept, as well as a hot batter behind the plate. Indeed, Rawlings shares with the reader that "[a] year ago, Willie was working in a meatpacking house and playing amateur ball for the Union Stockyards. Now in his first full season with the Cubs, he had a .322 batting average and the best glove since Honus Wagner. He should have been the sports pages' biggest story. But the papers chose to avoid putting his hated name [Kaiser] in print and rarely mentioned Willie in their coverage of the games. The box scores, which couldn't omit him entirely, abbreviated him as 'WKsr.' "

Kaiser is a soft-spoken man with whom Rawlings has established a strong rapport on the playing field. But there has been considerable ferment at the stadium in recent weeks that has created disruptions in the game, causing drops in attendance. Then during an Independence Day pre-game event at Cubs Park (the Cubs were set to play against the Cincinnati Reds), while the team is assembled on one side of the field opposite the Reds players, a shot rings out, striking Kaiser in the chest, who is next to Rawlings. He dies. Intrigue both on and off the field abounds. Rawlings sets himself on a perilous path, determined to find out who murdered his teammate.

Again Troy Soos has crafted a very engaging novel that seamlessly blends the drama and intensity of a major league baseball team caught up in a hard fought pennant race with the shadowy elements of a gripping mystery story. "MURDER AT WRIGLEY FIELD" was a delight to read, capturing so much of the atmosphere of a country at war.