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Hardball: A Cat Marsala Mystery Paperback – June 1, 2003

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
Book 1 of 9 in the Cat Marsala Series

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Paperback, June 1, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This informative, at times lengthily polemical mystery by the author of Hands of Healing Murders airs the question of drug legalization and introduces a gutsy, fast-thinking heroine. Catherine Marsala (Cat), a Chicago freelance journalist, is caught in a bomb explosion while interviewing grandmotherly Louise Sugarman at a party. The bomb kills Louise, who headed Common Sense, a group advocating legalization as a means of de-glamorizing drugs and getting rid of the pushers, profit and violence. Recovering from a concussion, Cat turns sleuth. She investigates the party guests and seeks the detonating item--cigarette, pen or necklace. Her allies include boyfriend John; brother Ted, in jail for possession; black police officer McCoo, who warns that drug killers "play hardball"; and literary parrot Long John Silver. Among the novel's many virtues is the sense of terror and claustrophobia D'Amato adeptly creates when Cat falls in the hands of masked assailants.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Free-lance Chicago journalist Catherine "Cat" Marsala narrowly escapes death in the bomb blast that kills drug law repeal activist Louise Sugarman, whom she was going to interview. Cat grimly works to establish the identity of the murderer. Suspects include a handsome former mob man, a loquacious college professor, a policeman, and Cat's own uncle. The plot breezes tidily along the Chicago lakefront, pushing uncomplicated characters before it, and leaving no unexplained dust in the corners. A fairly tame production, but interesting.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mystery Company (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932325018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932325010
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,949,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
In Harball, we meet D'Amato's freelance journalist, Cat Marsala. Even though this was written in the early 90s, the issues contained within are still quite timely: how's the drug war going?

Contrary to what a previous reviewer said, there is no 'political agenda' here. Both sides are discussed in a balanced manner, and never overwhelm the reader. D'Amato's characters intelligently explore each side, and I never felt once overwhelmed by one particular argument.

There are times when an author's 'politics' clearly show, but this is not the case in Hardball. I found the fictional debates in this novel to be fascinating and thought-provoking.

Anyway, the mystery is not about who can better argue their position about drugs, although a great deal of debate arises; but rather, who has the best motive for killing pro-drug law repeal activist, Louise Sugarman.

Killed in a bomb that was surgical in its precision, Sugarman was the face of the pro-repeal movement. With her grandmotherly appearance and no-nonsense approach to the drug problem, some folks despised her for propsing a relaxing of present drug laws as opposed a tightening of them.

Cat, our dogged heroine, was seated next to Sugarman when the small bomb blew, sending her to hospital with concussion and a slight case of retrograde amnesia.

Mad as ever that someone would kill Sugarman, (Sugarman had just granted Cat an appointment for a future interview) Cat resolves to get to the bottom of the murder.

Quickly, she comes to realise that the drug problem is an extremely complex one, and that there is no shortage of suspects, even though she does her best to pare down the list.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cat Marsala is a smart and brave character. Barbara D'Amato got it right with this one. Can't wait for the next.
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