DiGrazie’s (Von Lagerhaus, 2011) latest mystery introduces golfer John Kaminski, whose journey to the brink of fame and fortune would be considerably easier if he wasn’t also trying to juggle two women and a gambling addiction.
John’s golf career hasn’t quite panned out the way he’d envisioned. His in-laws have already bailed him out once, but he’s in debt again after spending too much time at a low-rent casino with girlfriend Val while wife Connie and daughter Laurie wait at home. Thuggish Sammy suggests a way for John to wipe out his debt completely: play tournaments and throw a percentage of the winnings to Sammy. Joined by his lucky charm, Val, John surprises everyone when he starts winning big. But Connie’s distrust of John is mounting, and things only get more complicated with the introduction of John’s estranged father, the puzzling death of his mother, and a mysterious woman named Brenda, who takes a sudden interest in the champion golfer. DiGrazie’s book initially plays like a romance novel: Connie questions her marriage, believing her husband to be adulterous; her sister even dupes her into a blind date. But once John starts hitting the tours, the book becomes a rousing tale of character interplay: On tour, John and Val are joined by Sammy’s cousin, Mad Tommy, before Connie and Laurie make an unexpected visit. Add to the mix John’s caddie, Frenchy, and an agent and family friend whom Connie insists John hire. Fortunately, each character is fully incorporated into the story. The sequences with John on the golf course read like commentators’ remarks; they may not create any new golf fans, but they’re essential to the plot. Everyone, it seems, cheers on unlikable John, even those who hate him. Yet DiGrazie succeeds in refining him as a character who ultimately recognizes his own flaws. Humor helps: It’s funny to watch a golfer who’s just won almost a million dollars ask someone to pay for his gas.
Readers will appreciate the author’s meticulous, steady progression of plot and characters.