Murder at Fenway Park
© 1994 Troy Soos
1912, Boston. The Titanic is only a few weeks lost to the North Atlantic bottom, but Mickey Rawling’s mind isn’t on one of the biggest maritime disasters of history. No, he’s just been inducted into the Major Leagues, hired to play with the Boston Red Sox, and his first night he’s stumbled upon a man beaten so badly the victim’s face no longer exists. And then Mickey threw up on it, just for good measure. Murder at Fenway Park is the story of a rookie ball player who turns amateur detective when he realizes the police intend on fingering him for the crime. While the cozy relationship between the Red Sox and the police might protect him during the baseball season, come fall he’ll be left to his own devices.
The first in Trey Soos’ baseball-murder mysteries, Murder at Fenway takes readers through a violence summer, in which Rawlings rubs shoulders with baseball greats like Ty Cobb, and does his best — with the aide of a nickelodeon musician and a Socialist working on the garment factory-version of The Jungle — to figure out who did it before either being arrested or beaten to a pulp by the original murderer. The writing is sometimes unpolished, but the opening framing device — an old man wandering through the Baseball Hall of Fame, feeling he and the sport have become long-distant strangers, then flashing back to the murder story on seeing the victim on a baseball card — was well executed. I suspect readers will find the setting more interesting than the mystery, considering how dramatic this era was in baseball. This was the decade that produce legends who gave their names to awards — Cy Young, Ty Cobb — although we’re two years away from Babe Ruth stepping up to the plate. This is technically alt-history, considering that Soos kills off a player who — in reality, died of a heart attack in 1959.
Murder at Fenway Park is by no means amazing literature, but it’s enjoyable if you like early-20th century mysteries, or golden age baseball.