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All Mickey Rawlings wants to do is put the Great War behind him, settle in as a utility infielder with the Cincinnati Reds, and learn to hit the low, outside curveball. It doesn't seem like much, but Mick keeps picking the wrong friends. Oliver Perriman, for instance, seems like a nice enough guy. Just a super baseball fan who wants to put together a tribute to the first professional baseball team, the 1869 Reds. But Perriman is shot in the head during a game, and when Mick becomes a suspect, though not a likely one, he decides to nose around. The case is a tangled web of greed and lost family lumber fortunes that ultimately has little or nothing to do with the game. The entries in the Mickey Rawlings series could almost be classified as cozies directed at baseball fans. Mix in great 1920s period detail and a likable, carefully presented first-person narrator in Rawlings for a series that has modest goals and meets them with style. Wes Lukowsky
Two years after the Chicago Black Sox scandal rocked major league baseball, the Cincinnati Reds are still trying to prove that they won the 1919 World Series, and that the White Sox didn't just hand it to them. Oliver Perriman, a Reds fan who'd like to remember happier times, wants to mount an exhibit of memorabilia featuring the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, who beat every team they played in a historic coast-to-coast tour. No sooner has the Reds management signed on to Ollie's plan, though, than he's shot to death, presumably by somebody who had an eye out for a particular bit of Red Stockings history. Could it have been the ball or the baseball cards he gave to the Reds' latest acquisition, rolling-stone utility infielder Mickey Rawlings? Mickey promises his live-in girlfriend, ex-serial queen Margie Turner, that he's not going to get involved this time, but it's too late. By the time Mickey uncovers evidence of a 50-year-old murder, somebody's already broken into his house looking for the fatal evidence, and somebody's trying to smear him by linking him to the gamblers who bought the 1919 Series. Will Mickey end up a ``permanent ineligible,'' the latest casualty of autocratic Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis? No way, as Mickey never says. But his fifth adventure (Hunting a Detroit Tiger, 1997, etc.) is stronger on baseball triviathe Reds have an especially rich traditionthan on that untidy old mystery. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.