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Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery Hardcover – October 12, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Smith (Girls of Tender Age) and son work real-life members of the 2007 Boston Red Sox, most notably David Big Papi Ortiz, into a mystery plot with the adeptness of a successful double steal. The troubles for the team begin with the discovery of an abandoned baby in the Red Sox clubhouse. When a woman's body turns up in a remote area of the fens near Fenway Park, Boston homicide detective Rocky Patel gets on the case, partnered by Sgt. Marty Flanagan. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous agent has been trafficking in Cuban baseball stars. The authors know how to heighten the intrigue, but readers should be prepared for some tiresomely detailed descriptions of street routes and an omniscient narration that compulsively shares incidental thoughts of insignificant characters. Such filler has all the charm of a rain delay in the middle of a tense Sox-Yankees game. 10-city author tour. (Oct. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

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.

--Surviving Grady


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Hall of Fame Press; 1st edition (October 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977624021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977624027
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,019,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I cannot resist beginning by saying there is a new ebook edition of MASTERS OF ILLUSION: A Novel of the Great Circus Fire, long out-of-print.

I was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut and have lived in Connecticut all my life except for the two years I served as a Peace Corps volunteer on Mt. Cameroon, an active volcano rising nearly 13,400 feet above the equatorial sea. I have a most lovely family including my first dog, a Labradoodle named Salty.

My grandparents on my father's side immigrated from the north of Italy, and on my mother's, Quebec. My fondest childhood memories are of sweltering summers blue-crabbing with my French-speaking grandfather from 5 A.M. until 5 p.m., my grandfather wearing a worn three-piece suit and cap, and me, my underpants. When I told my Italian grandfather that I would be going to Cameroon as a Peace Corps volunteer he told me there were very good grapes in Africa.

My brother was autistic, a savant, who would not allow singing, laughing, sneezing, electronic sound (including television, radio and anything that produced music), and the flushing of the toilet except when he was asleep and he never seemed to be asleep. He had a library of over two thousand books all on WWII. As his adjutant, I attained a vast pool of knowledge on such things as identifying fighter bombers from their silhouettes and why we dropped the atomic bomb: "To win the war," Tyler told me. Then: "It didn't work so we dropped another one. Victory at last." Once he tried to kill my cat by dropping his latest acquisition, Jane's All the World Aircraft on its head. I rescued the cat in the nick of time as Tyler shouted, "Prepare to drop depth charges, men!" As an autistic person, his senses were fine-tuned to a state none of the rest of us could possibly understand: bright colors (especially red), odors (especially perfume) and noise (particularly a cat meowing), sent him into paroxysms of agony.

The relationship with my brother was one of three influences on my writing; the second, my father's bedtime stories consisting of poetry and prose. Right after the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary," he would recite: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!" The third influence was the shelf of classic children's literature my mother kept stocked with such gems as The Swiss Family Robinson, Bambi, Tom the Water-Boy, Silver Pennies, King Arthur and the Round Table, The Child's Odyssey. Somehow, The Bedside Esquire (1936) found its way to the shelf and before I was eight years old, I'd read the extraordinary short fiction within including Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Paul Gallico's "Keeping Cool in Conneaut," Salinger's "For Esmé with Love and Squalor," Ben Hecht's "Snowfall in Childhood," and my favorite, "Latins Make Lousy Lovers," by Anonymous. In the collection was an excerpt from the novel, Christ in Concrete by Pietro Di Donato which so bowled me over that I decided then and there that I would be a writer, too, just like all the writers who wrote fiction for Esquire Magazine in 1936.

Instead of studying at college, I read and wrote. I graduated with a 2.01 grade point average not knowing I'd fulfilled my academic requirements until graduation week when my dean called and asked why I hadn't picked up my cap and gown. When I told him my grade point had fallen under 2.0 he told me it was a good thing I hadn't majored in math or it certainly would have. Together we recalculated and I finally believed him when he told me it wasn't 1.89 as I'd thought. To this day, I can't remember my multiplication tables six through twelve, and even though my fourth grade teacher wrote in my report card, Mary-Ann will not be able to function in life if she does not learn her six through twelve tables, I have. Also, I have come to learn that there is a dysfunction called something like dyscalcula, the math equivalent of dyslexia, which I obviously have since if you say to me, "What's 6 times 7?" my palms will start to sweat, my knees get wobbly and I start having a heart attack. This recent revelation of my learning disability has allowed me to stop fantasizing about studying math all over again starting with Algebra I, which I managed to pass with a D though I failed Algebra II, since I'm discalulic.

After Peace Corps service, I taught, worked as a librarian and got my first freelance writing job with Reader's Digest. The Digest editor assigned me sports and games for How to Do Just about Anything, a book which sold 50 million copies world-wide. Reader's Digest made a vast fortune on that book alone, while me and the other writers earned $25 to $75 dollars per article. I learned economy of language writing such pieces as "How to Play Tennis" in fifty words. My first writing collaboration with my son began with this book: I described how to play "Hangman" and the Digest used his piece of paper with a name I couldn't get--yacht-- and so I was hung. This made me feel guilty since the games I played his older sister didn't make the Digest cut, so unfair since she taught her brother how to read when he was three.

I have published nine novels: THE BOOK OF PHOEBE, LAMENT FOR A SILVER-EYED WOMAN, THE PORT OF MISSING MEN, MASTERS OF ILLUSION*, AN AMERICAN KILLING, the Poppy Rice Mysteries--LOVE HER MADLY*, SHE'S NOT THERE*, and SHE SMILED SWEETLY--and THE HONOURED GUEST*. My memoir, GIRLS OF TENDER AGE*, is a favorite of book clubs. (The paperback edition has a great book club guide.) In addition, I collaborated on a novel with my son, Jere Smith, DIRTY WATER: A Red Sox Mystery, which centers on the 2007 World Champions, the team that showed Sox fans that it could happen again.
*available in e-book editions.

In 2010, I was awarded the Diana Bennett Fellowship at the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. When I wasn't at MGM Grand being disappeared by David Copperfield, I spent that academic year writing the first draft of The Honoured Guest, a story of the commencement of the American Civil War.

My books have been reprinted in seven foreign languages.

I have also had short fiction and essays included in several collections.

I have taught fiction writing at Fairfield University and has participated in writing seminars throughout the country. In March 2001, I was guest teacher-writer at the University of Ireland and on the Aran Islands; and writer-in-residence at Suomi College in Michigan.

I teach memoir writing at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

And finally, I am now working on a new memoir: My Décolletage Has a Scar.

So Happy Reading. And remember: "It's not what you read, or how you read, but that you read."--me

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Okay, so if you;re not a red sox fan, or not conversant with the geography of boston, you might not cozy up to this book. but I;m a mad sox fan, as anybody who knows me would attest, and this is a mystery that actually features the sox's 2007 team, and other very nicely-drawn characters--some real, some not. It;s interesting, moves along smartly, and builds to a nail-chewer finish. because it features a couple of murders, including one that comes off as truly sad and unwarranted, and because its characters are flawed everyday Joes who don;t always do the right thing, the reader can;t take comfort early on that everything will come out all right. I like that in my mysteries. the authors did a good job, even if the editor could use a box of commas (sigh. what is it about editors today, even at the big presses? sr. Mary stanislaus, my second-grade teacher, is whirling in her grave...).

Having said this, I apologize for my own erratic capitalization and punctuation here. I;m typing with my right hand in a cast, and I can;t reach the apostrophe or the right-hand shift key. Mea culpa.

anyway, thoroughly enjoyable mystery for any member of red sox nation, and/or anybody who knows and appreciates boston. and a great gift to give someone who fits the above description.

susan O;Neill, sox nut and author: Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam
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Format: Hardcover
Filled with all the pizzazz and color one would expect of any mystery involving Red Sox players from Boston's 2007 World Series-winning team, Dirty Water is sure to keep Boston fans smiling as they get inside peeks of the lives and personalities of their favorite baseball stars. At the same time, however, they will become caught up in a murder mystery involving seedy superagents and criminal elements operating between Florida and Caribbean islands--in addition to the search for the parents of a one-month-old baby abandoned inside the Red Sox clubhouse.

In the first dozen pages alone, the reader meets Joe Cochran (clubhouse manager), Terry Francona (the manager, known as Tito), Manny Ramirez (who won't play unless he has his special aftershave), fleet-footed Jacoby Ellsbury (who is still learning how to handle caroms off the Green Monster), knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (and his special catcher Doug Mirabelli), pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima (who are learning Spanish faster than they are learning English), and "Big Papi" himself, David Ortiz (whose red Mercedes with a hand-made engine goes from zero to sixty in less than four seconds).

With Captain Jason Varitek riding escort, the abandoned baby is taken to the hospital, where he is named "Ted Williams" by the nurses. The rabid Boston press gets wind of the story from a young blogger named Jay, whose inside information about clubhouse life is suspicious, and when the murdered body of Baby Ted's mother is found in the Back Bay fens, Boston Homicide Detective 1st Grade Rocky Patel, a brilliant investigator and former boxer, is assigned to the case.
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Format: Hardcover
OK, I am a big Red Sox fan. It was great fun to have the 2007 Red Sox team as part of the mystery - I enjoyed the glimpses of real-life personalities. However, the detective Rocky Patel and his partner Marty made this mystery more than just another mystery that everyone reads because the Red Sox are in it. This is a good mystery with characters that you care about. I would like to see the further adventures of Rocky and Marty, with or without the Red Sox.
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Format: Hardcover
I've already read this book and baseball fan or not, if you like a great mystery, this one's for you! Mysterious goings on in and around the Boston Red Sox clubhouse mix with murder, mayhem and sinister dealings in New England and beyond, all with a baseball background. If you like the Red Sox, you'll love this book. If you just like the game of baseball, you'll STILL love this book. If you don't care about baseball but like a good mystery, the same thing goes, it's simple...BUY THIS BOOK! Enjoy, everyone.
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Format: Hardcover
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith's Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery is a unique murder mystery set against the backdrop of the 2007 Red Sox summer season. Fan favorites from Jason Veritek to David "Big Papi" Ortiz play minor to significant roles in uncovering the truth behind the death of Cinthia Sanchez, the abandonment of her child Arturo Sanchez (also known as Baby Ted Williams), and the Pestano Pipeline of illegal Cuban players making their way into Major League Baseball.

Red Sox fans will love this novel, and those who read mysteries will enjoy this police procedural as well. Readers could take a few chapters to get into the novel with its story followed by blog posts and comments. What Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery has that many other mystery novels don't is a true feel for the city of Boston, Fenway, its fans, and the team. Smith and Smith are third and fourth generation Red Sox fans, and their knowledge shines through in every page as readers journey with Boston Police Detective Rocky Patel and Sargeant Marty Flanagan from Boston to Los Angeles to Florida and beyond.

Boston Police Detective Rocky Patel and Sargeant Marty Flanagan have different religions and methods, but each is dedicated to the job and justice. Beyond the mystery and the Red Sox trivia, Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery uncovers the fear immigrants have of law enforcement authorities at the same time they struggle with the frustration of desiring justice from the same authorities.
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