Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, of East Haven, author of the acclaimed memoir about growing up in Hartford, "Girls of Tender Age," is no stranger to the mystery genre, with three novels featuring FBI agent Poppy Rice among her books. Jere Smith, her son, is no stranger to all things Red Sox, being a fourth-generation fan and founder of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory.Characters includes the revenge-minded family of the dead woman, a slimy trafficker in kidnapped players, two even lower-lifes who have a beef with him -- and most enjoyable, cameos by members of the Sox. Add to that Jay, a blogger whose contacts give new meaning to the old phrase "inside baseball." Each chapter ends with a posting from his fictional blog, The Number One Place, and comments from its readers. Sox fans know the name's a shout-out to the lyrics of the Standells "Dirty Water," the song about Boston that is Red Sox Nation's victory anthem. Jay's contributions are written by Jere Smith. At first, the blog sections seem tacked on, but they become an integral part of the story, as Jay throws in with Rocky and Marty to solve not one but two murders .The mystery develops nicely, but the most fun is the Red Sox and Boston lore, interaction between the players and punchy dialogue.
--Carole Goldberg, Hartford Courant
To truly enjoy this extremely clever novel and its extra-innings ending, it helps if you are a fan of the Boston Red Sox, intimately familiar with Boston's Fenway neighborhood and conversant with the online practice of blogging. But should you strike out on these topics, never mind. The book is still a good read and, let's face it, in Vermont and the rest of New England (otherwise known as Red Sox Nation) most readers will have at least some knowledge of the team and therefore an appreciation of its recent (and long-awaited) success on the diamond. And, as a bonus, David "Big Papi" Ortiz, the team's superstar slugger and larger-than-life personality, adds a bit of zest to a plot that's already as tricky and slick as an unassisted triple play.
--A.C. Hutchison, Rutland (VT) Herald
Even if you root for the Rox, not the Sox, you've gotta admire this baseball-filled mystery for its deep and knowledgeable love of the game. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, a third-generation Red Sox fan, joins forces with her son Jere, a Sox blogger, to tell the story of an apparently motiveless murder affecting a warm Boston family. At the same time, the authors bring the Red Sox clubhouse and its denizens to life when an abandoned baby turns up there. Adding to the mystery is an anonymous blogger who always knows a little more about the team than he should. The compelling conclusion entertains while making a point about how the game is run today. Final word: The story ends well before Boston came to Denver and gave us a drubbing, so you won't have to relive last October. Grade: A
-Jane Dickinson, Rocky Mountain News
The gripping new novel Dirty Water, coauthored by mystery writer Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and her son, Jere Smith, begins inside Fenway Park in the midst of the Red Sox' 2007 championship season. I was, of course, instantly hooked. But I can't say that I was surprised. As a grateful fan of Jere Smith's rabidly passionate and generous blog, A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripes Territory, which brings readers along for the ride (with copious photos, videos, and pointed descriptions) every one of the many times he goes to cheer his voice hoarse for the Red Sox, I would have been surprised if the book had opened anywhere but Fenway. (Smith, using the name of his blog as a commenter name, shows up in Cardboard Gods comments from time to time, most fittingly in terms of the discussion here as a keen-eyed detective of the moments depicted in baseball cards featuring action shots.) From that opening scene, in which a newborn in seemingly dire health is mysteriously abandoned in the Red Sox clubhouse, the well-plotted, plausible novel hurtles forward with the help of well-drawn characters and a deep and satisfying sense of setting. The Red Sox themselves show up periodically to contribute to both of these rich elements of the book. The appearances by the players, which if handled poorly would have doomed the book (at least for baseball fans), is handled by the authors with a pitch-perfect ear for how, for example, Jason Varitek would act when confronted with an ill infant in his clubhouse, or what Big Papi would do if a player in the Sox' minor league system came to him for help in a very difficult situation. The book also features an innovative way of propelling the action forward by periodically inserting entries and accompanying reader comments from a fictional Red Sox fan's blog. The blogger in the novel comments on the ongoing mystery that began in the Red Sox clubhouse and offers as-yet unrevealed details, which at times gives the blog entries an ominous feel as the reader can't help but wonder how he knows so much about the case. Additionally, the reader comments serve brilliantly as a kind of Greek chorus lamenting and celebrating the downs and ups of the mystery (and the Red Sox' season). At the core of the lived-in, baseball-saturated world of the novel is the police detective working to solve the case, which comes to involve not only the abandonment of a baby but kidnapping, murder, and international human trafficking. This detective, Rocky Patel, is an excellent character, unusual and compelling, and unshakably dogged in his pursuit of the truth below all the fascinating and grisly murk of the mystery. Because of his magnetic presence, I would have been drawn forward by the book even if it hadn't so richly and authoritatively portrayed a world in which the Red Sox are as intrinsic to life as water or air. Lucky for me, and for all fans of baseball and of fiction with deep roots in the world it describes, Dirty Water gleams in the glow of the brilliant light stanchions of Fenway.
--Josh Wilker, Cardboard Gods
One of our favorite blogs is Jere Smith's A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory, where Yankee-hating is flung to bold new heights almost every day (and his recent All-Star game rants were things of beauty). Jere and his mom, author Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, have collaborated on a new mystery novel, Dirty Water, that skillfully combines everything we love about the Red Sox--the players, the Park, the fans -- into a gritty, suspenseful tale that begins with an abandoned baby found in the Olde Towne Team's clubhouse. In a cool technique, much of the plot advances through the posts of a mysterious blogger, and Jere is nice enough to name-drop a number of Sox bloggers among the comments. Best of all are the guest appearances by the players we know and love: David Ortiz (basically a supporting character in the book, who will no doubt be played by Yaphet Kotto in the film version), Daisuke, Teets, Theo. Hell, even Amalie Benjmain shows up, looking positively fabulous if only in my mind's eye. Folks, if you're gonna read a book, shouldn't it be a mystery novel with Papi and Amalie? My point exactly. Reading Dirty Water is like sitting in your favorite Fenway-area pub, watching the game while seated between Dennis Lehane and Peter Gammons. And that's my kinda place.