Books by Troy Soos

Released: Nov. 6, 2001

"Despite whores, drunks, bribes, graft, and the stench of the Tombs, the earnest hero and early-feminist heroine make this a tad dull. Most likely audience: fans of Soos's period baseball series (Hanging Curve, 1999, etc.) and devotees of the Victorian women's novel. "
The first person ashore on January 1, 1892, the day Ellis Island opens, is pretty young Christina van der Waals, expecting to be met by her cousin. On hand to record the ceremonies are photographers Crombie and Sehlinger, who are racing Edison to put into production a moving-picture machine, and dime-novelist Marshall Webb, who plans to write a book about the 14-year-old Dutch immigrant's happy life in her new country. But soon after Christina steps off the boat, she vanishes. And Webb's efforts to track her down illustrate just how awful life in fin-de-siècle New York can be for unprotected girls. Men like Josiah McQuaid patrol the Tenderloin district for women to hustle into sweatshops (if they're ugly) or prostitution (if they're not). And men like her cousin's common-law husband Warren Gleason, an abusive city patrolman on the take, cow their beaten wives so thoroughly they can't even see the part Gleason has played in selling Christina to McQuaid for $20. Webb's search leads him to Colden House, a woman's shelter run by wealthy do-gooder Rebecca Davies, who joins him in seeking Christina—and, after her strangled corpse turns up, in finding her killer. The path winds past a tobacco-plant sweatshop in Connecticut, a Bowery bordello called The Roost, and payoffs to cops, customs officials, and Tammany pols. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

Hanging Curve ($22.00; Oct.; 272 pp.; 1-57566-455-0) Journeyman infielder Mickey Rawlings's biggest innings have always been off the field, and it's no surprise that his sixth season (The Cincinnati Red Stalkings, 1998, etc.) will take him away from his current team, the St. Louis Browns. This time out, he's to play as a ringer against the Negro League's East St. Louis Cubs—and against the KKK and a city still sporting the five-year-old scars of the murderous race riots of 1917. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1998

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 trivia—the Reds have an especially rich tradition—than on that untidy old mystery. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1997

The Detroit papers all say that journeyman infielder Mickey Rawlings shot union organizer Emmett Siever in self-defense during a rally in Fraternity Hall. But although Mickey was on the scene, he doesn't know anything about the shooting—except that he didn't do it, and that the revolver found in Siever's hand was a plant. But ``personnel coordinator'' Hub Donner, brought in by the American League to bust the struggling players' union, decides that the notoriety has made Mickey's signature just the one he needs over a series of articles condemning the union, and he puts major-league screws on him when Mickey won't play ball- -floating rumors about Mickey's anti-union sympathies that have his new teammates on the Tigers freezing him out, and the Wobblies who organized the rally threatening revenge unless he delivers them a better candidate for Siever's killing. Mickey's left with just three questions: How will he survive the 1920 season with the front office and his teammates both at his throat? Why isn't Siever's daughter Constance more distraught at her father's death? And will the Tigers, led by that inimitable sourpuss Ty Cobb, ever climb out of last place? Mickey's fourth outing (Murder at Wrigley Field, 1996, etc.) may be his best nine innings. The union-busting makes the mystery as timely as Donald Fehr, even though all the games are played on real grass. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

Summer, 1918. Anti-German fever runs high, even on the baseball diamond, where Mickey Rawlings is toiling as the Chicago Cubs' second baseman, part of a sweet double-play combination that's broken up when rookie shortstop Willie Kaiser, whose name never gets into the papers no matter how slick his glove, is shot in the middle of a Fourth of July maneuver on the field. An accidentally discharged weapon? A moment of kraut-killing madness? Willie's kid sister Edna Chapman, who's too nice to have much to say for herself, doesn't think so, and neither does Mickey. Moonlighting his way into Willie's old job at Bennett Harrington's Dearborn Fuel Company, and cozying up to Dearborn security guard Curly Neeman's buddies in the Patriotic Knights of Liberty, Mickey convinces himself that Willie's shooting is linked to a fierce struggle for power in the major leagues, and maybe even to a treasonable secret somebody would kill to protect. But how can Mickey—who can't even find his own missing hot-water heater—make a case when everybody he can tie in to Willie's murder ends up dead? Compensating for the subpar mystery, Mickey's third (Murder at Ebbets Field, 1995, etc.) is Soos's quietly effective portrait of wartime Chicago in the throes of painful German-baiting and on the verge of Prohibition. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1995

A second outing for Mickey Rawlings, the 1914 New York Giants' second-string second baseman (Murder at Fenway Park, 1994, not reviewed)—who's drafted into appearing in movie star Florence Hampton's latest film, only to discover her body washed up at Coney Island the morning after a heartfelt party. Florence, it turns out in the first of several nicely placed surprises, was trying to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband, and her death is only the first of a new round of skullduggery. And even though too little of the action involves the Giants' pennant run, patient readers will be rewarded by a homicide that really does take place, against all odds, at Ebbets Field. Well-judged period background (including a winsome role for Casey Stengel) enlivens a solid mystery. Read full book review >