Sportswriter Lloyd Keaton (Field of Schemes, 2012) gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to pen the biography of a famous pitcher.
It shouldn’t be too hard to write about Cleveland Indians’ pitching star Blaze Stender. On the field, the career 253-game winner was a tough competitor. Off the field, he was modest and generous, donating equipment to kids’ teams, visiting sick fans and spearheading The Tommy Fund, named for his late son, who had Down syndrome. And Keaton certainly can use the money, since his compulsive gambling cost him his pension and caused him to leave the prestigious Cleveland News for the shoestring Menckenburg Herald. But the project is bedeviled from the get-go. First, Stender’s former teammate, erratic Lanny Morton, hints that Blaze’s record may not be as squeaky-clean as Keaton thinks. Then, Blaze goes missing after his yacht, Three Strikes, hits a breakwall and sinks in Cleveland Harbor. Soon, Keaton realizes that the numbers just don’t add up: Blaze has been writing checks that aren’t accounted for in any of his expense sheets. Blaze’s wife, Barb, who wants Keaton to stop, dons her slinkiest dresses to help persuade him. But Keaton wants the truth, and he won’t stop until he gets to the bottom of a case as deep and murky as Lake Erie.
Baseball fans and mystery fans alike will cheer as Billheimer goes into extra innings with a puzzle as ingenious as he offered in Keaton’s debut.