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on September 18, 2008
Rick Shefchik's second Sam Skarda detective novel moves with the taut pace of a good pitcher's duel. Hired by the owner of the Red Sox to investigate a blackmail threat that asserts the 2004 Series was fixed, Shefchik's protagonist quickly finds that few loyalties can be assumed, not only among the bookies and hoods from whom he seeks information, but within the Sox front office for whom he works. Chapter after chapter, Shefchik finds ways to surprise the reader with plot twists and character nuance, along with settings from Marblehead to West Hollywood to Caracas that crackle with rich detail. One chase scene through L.A. is as good as "Bullitt" - just in printed form. A tavern in Southie smells of poorly wiped counters and stale Schaefer's. Shefchik dares the reader to accept the premise that a thrown Series from very recent memory might be possible (don't worry, Sox fans, all characters on the field or in the front office are wholly fictional), and carries it off with a narrative deftly seasoned with baseball lore. My warning: don't crack "Green Monster" on a transcontinental flight when you have brought along work reading to do. If you do, there's a good chance your briefcase will remain unopened underneath the seat in front of you.
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on January 29, 2014
Fenway as everyone knows is a national baseball icon with their left field wall known as the Green Monster. So the idea of a baseball star being involved in mayhem is a thin thread. If you like local scenes, ( which I do) this book might appeal to you. The plot has some merit but while I got a mild kick out this book, not losing any sleep reading it at night. Give it a twirl , you probably will have some fun and wish the Sox luck in repeating their world series win for 2014
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on October 24, 2008
Shefchik has done another nice job with Sam. The plot seems at first to require a suspension of disbelief but I think that it doesn't require citizenship in Red Sox Nation to comprehend the possibility of the premise of the story--that a baseball game could be affected by one player's decision to not play his best...Ask most people in Boston about Manny's behaviors and how they affected the Sox...But while the story has baseball in the background Rick has crafted a story with interesting characters from the semi-organized crime world. Nothing complicated here, just a good story with some very interesting twists that offers good entertainment. I can now go back to reading Gertrude Bell's life history to get to sleep faster.

I look forward to the next Sam Skarda story. Will Caroline come back?
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on June 4, 2009
I knew I was in trouble when the middle-aged author made his hero, Sam, hail from Minnesota and be a graduate of that college in New Hampshire - just like himself. So it came as no surprise that he got to have sex with the beautiful Harvard graduate and do all those other silly macho things...

I am a big Red Sox fan and I really wanted to like this book. but the characters were over the top and the mystery had to have just too many weird characters to allow it to work. The scene inside the scoreboard almost made me put down the book for good.

That said, I did finish the book, which is why I gave it two stars instead of one. There were actually parts of the book that I found suspenseful. But all in all not a satifactory read.
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on March 23, 2009
I fond this novel to be much less than I expected it to be. His character descriptions often go overboard with details that become boring. His characterizations of professional baseball players fails in its attempts to besmirch the majority of them. The sex portions add nothing to the plot except for maybe an adolescent. His attempt to impress the reader with his knowledge of Fenway Park just doesn't carry any weight. Perhaps the most interesting and compassionate portion of his writing is his understanding of the poverty of most of the citizens of Venezuela. As a very long time fan of the Red Sox, I found this novel to be patronizing and, quite honestly, phoney.
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on March 7, 2013
Sam Skarda is back. His grateful clients from Amen Corner recommended him to Red Sox owners who are being blackmailed to the tune of $50 million. Was the the 2000 World Series, won by the Sox, fixed? No, but a rumor to that effect could do irreparable harm to the franchise and to Major League Baseball. The plot twists and turns with Sam in hot pursuit. Once again Shefchik tells a great story. It's one of those books you keep thinking about throughout your workday; you can't wait to get back to it. Enjoy!
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on August 22, 2008
I had to have this book being from Massachusetts and a huge Red Sox fan. Mr. Shefchik did not let me down! This guy knows his stuff about the Boston area and the Red Sox in general. Wrap a tight, fun mystery around all that history and this book truly delivers. Sam Skarda is an investigator who I think should have a long career!
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on August 10, 2008
Boston Red Sox owner Louis Kenwood received an extortion note singed 'Babe Ruth' claiming that the 2004 World Series in which the Sox finally won and ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' was fixed and the author of that extortion note wants $20 million to keep quiet. If the public were to become aware of this accusation, the value of Kenwood's franchise would be eroded so he turns to detective Sam Skarda to find out if the allegation is true, and who's behind the blackmail attempt. Kenwood's lovely assistant heather Canby is assigned to monitor and accompany Sam on his investigation. The clues lead Sam into the Los Angeles underworld, through the slums of Venezuela, and back to Fenway Park. A good mystery novel must have two essential elements: characters that attract our attention and plots that compel our interest from beginning to end. "Green Monster" by Rick Shefchik is highly recommended reading on both those conditions. Also highly recommended reading for mystery buffs is Rick Shefchik's early Sam Skarda detective novel published by Poisoned Pen Press is "Amen Corner".
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on July 16, 2009
As hard-boiled detective novels go, this one wasn't so bad. It wasn't good either. I read it because I like crime fiction and I am a baseball fan. But enough already with this sub-genre. Put it to rest. Hard-boiled detective novels contain too many of the following tired elements:

(1) The disillusioned detective is a former cop with a bullet wound received in the line of duty. Sometimes the bullet is still in him and sometimes his ex-partner was killed, and the hero is haunted by that.

(2) The detective is either a bachelor or is divorced--but is not married as the story takes place. In either case, his phermone levels are high. That is, "dames" are attracted to his virile self.

(3) The detective is good with his fists and with a gun. He is seen in action several times during the book.

(4) You can bet there's a "doll" mixed up in the plot somehow, and you're never quite sure whether to trust her or not. Probably not. In any case she has long silky hair, a great figure, and she just can't wait to jump into bed with the detective.

(5) The reader is treated to a tour of the underbelly of cities and is introduced to all kinds of nefarious characters who threaten the detective. But he socks or shoots several of them before he prevails.

(6) The "Kingpin" criminal always turns out to be someone you were led to believe was a good guy--or already dead--or a rogue cop--or whatever.

(7) Often the chief crook, in the last chapter, holds the detective at gunpoint and tells him just how and why this caper came down. Guess what happens next.

It is time to drive a stake into this sub-genre. It's what ails "Green Monster," among other things. I kept having the nagging suspicion that I read this fifty years ago--long before the book was written.

The "among other things" would include a propensity to give detailed driving instructions for every move; being able to get around easily in a large, strange city and never making a wrong turn or pausing to look at a map; taking a gun on an international flight without even a hint of a question from airline secruity; having a man walk around with a bullet hole through his bicep and act normally for hours, etc. etc. I know some defenders of this book will think this is picky, but cliches, errors of fact, and flaws of logic take away some readers' acceptance of the plot. My acceptance, at least. Maybe your level of acceptance is different.
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on September 18, 2008
The curse of the Bambino was partially buried when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 with a sweep of the Cardinals. Any lingering doubt concerning the Ruth mojo was put to rest in 2007 with a second championship.

However someone signing off as Babe Ruth insists that proof exists that the Cardinals were paid to throw the World Series; that individual demands $50 million or will go public with the evidence that the fix was in. Although he does not believe the extortionist, owner Lucky Louie Kenwood fears the implications of even a rumor as basketball and football are dealing with similar issues. He hires private investigator Sam Skarda to look into the claim and assigns his personal assistant Heather Canby to assist the sleuth. Sam and Heather start with those Cardinals who had an extremely sub-par series; then All-Star right fielder Ivan Hurtado and the league MVP pitcher and third baseman Alberto Miranda. The detective wonders if one of the two stars who played poorly is the source of the allegation and through that player wonders if they can uncover the identity of the blackmailer. They soon find a double helix trail of drug enhancers and gambling that tie to the mob, the owner's son and Fenway Park; as increasingly Sam and Heather believed the 2004 World Series was fixed.

The premise seems over the top of the GREEN MONSTER although with the NBA referee scandal maybe not. Regardless this is a fun sports whodunit unless you're a Red Sox fan as the book will be filed in Boston alongside the Buckner error and the Dent homer. Heather's all star propensity for hitting homeruns in everyone's bed is a called strike three as it distracts from Sam's fine sleuthing into what he believes is the second coming of the black sox scandal.

Harriet Klausner
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