Knuckleball by Tom PittsI suspect I’m not the only crime fiction reader and writer who absolutely loves the novella trend in the crime fiction indy-publishing world.

Fast and sharp, a good novella takes a natural pace that makes it hard to put down. Novellas (and short novels) also play a huge part in crime fiction’s roots.

Knuckleball, by Tom Pitts, is the epitome of the kind of novella I love. I finished it in two sittings, and really would have liked to finish it all in one, had life not intervened.

I should point out that I don’t particularly care for baseball, either.

But, that said, I love the role baseball plays in Knuckleball.

Knuckleball follows the seemingly random execution of a beat cop on patrol, and the subsequent search for his killer, set against the backdrop of a weekend series between The San Francisco Giants and The Los Angeles Dodgers.

Each character has a unique connection to the home team as well as the murder. As the plot plays out, San Francisco baseball fans sit on pins and needles from both the series and the search.

Pitts uses baseball to introduce the reader to his city, San Francisco. And it is his city. Knuckleball is one of those books where you can feel the writer’s grasp on the setting and subject matter.

He doesn’t pander to it, however. Every sentence feels sharp and vital to the story, including those about baseball and San Francisco as a city.

The plot unfolds like an Elmore Leonard novel, though Tom Pitts certainly has his own voice and style. It’s full of POV quick shifts that provide unique perspectives while giving the story a blistering sense of pace.

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Knuckleball, with one caveat. You’d better go ahead and grab another book with it. This one won’t last long.

Pick up a copy here, and find Tom Pitts online at

[Michael Pool’s latest novel, Texas Two-Stepis out now from Down and Out Books]

Posted by Michael Pool

Michael Pool is Crime Syndicate Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, as well as a crime fiction author of three books:Texas Two-Step, Debt Crusher, and New Alleys For Nothing Men. His next novel, Rose City, will be published by Down and Out Books in April 2019. Find him online at

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