A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: The Crime-On-Crime Review Series originated on Crime Syndicate founder Michael Pool’s personal blog. We’ve decided to take over the series here on our website, and as part of that process we’re publishing the first five entries in the series, one per day the rest of this week, leading up to a brand new review on Monday, November 9, 2015. The review below was originally published on September 12, 2015. FULL POST BELOW:
I suspect I’m not the only crime fiction reader and writer who absolutely loves the novella trend in the crime fiction indy-publishing world. Novellas are fast, the writing is often sharp, and I find that well-written novellas take a natural pace that makes them really hard to put down. They’re practically custom-tailored to crime fiction, and even play a huge part in the genre’s early roots.
Knuckleball, by Tom Pitts, is the epitome of the kind of novella I’m talking about. I definitely finished it in two sittings, and really would have liked to finish it all in one, because I could barely put it down.
I feel the need to point out here that I absolutely do not care for baseball, because I think it speaks to how engaging this book actually is. I’m just not a fan, have not kept up for at least twenty years.
But that said, I love the role baseball plays in Knuckleball. The San Francisco Giants’ weekend-long series against The Los Angeles Dodgers acts as an excellent frame for the plot, and also serves as a connecting thread between many of the main characters.
Knuckleball is about the seemingly random execution of a beat cop on patrol, and the subsequent search for his killer, all set against the backdrop of a weekend series between The San Francisco Giants and The Los Angeles Dodgers. Each character within the story 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 as they simultaneously focus on the series at hand, and pray that the killer is brought to justice.
Baseball culture itself serves as the lens through which Pitts introduces the reader to his city, San Francisco. And it is his city. Knuckleball is one of those books where you can just tell, can feel the writer’s love and grasp for the setting and subject matter. He doesn’t pander to it, though. In fact every single sentence of this book feels sharp and vital to the story, most especially those about baseball and San Francisco as a city.
The plot is wound together in a way that reminds me a lot of Elmore Leonard’s writing, though Tom Pitts certainly has his own voice and style for carrying it out. It’s full of quick shifts in POV that provide unique voices and perspectives to the story, and all of it serves to unfold the story at a blistering pace.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Knuckleball, but with one caveat. You’d better go ahead and grab another book with it, because this one isn’t likely to last you very long. Pick up a copy here, and find Tom Pitts online at http://www.tompittsauthor.com.
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