"Our partnership works because of our opposite styles. Ryan is calm, rational, and thoughtful. I'm ... not."
The character Karen Seagate may have more than her share of imperfections, but lack of self-awareness isn't one of them. In that quote she gets to the heart of why her fictional partnership with Ryan Miner makes for such good stories, too. This is the seventh book of the series and as I've reviewed each I've raved about the characters of Seagate and Miner as well as the story. Consider this another rave.
The fictional town of Rawlings, Montana where all the books take place is another piece of Markel's solid foundation for the series. Many of the stories involve happenings at the university in Rawlings and in this installment that is especially true. Along with the story of Seagate and Miner investigating a murder you might also find yourself considering college sports and the price athletes sometimes pay to participate.
From the Author
- Big Sick Heart
- The Broken Saint
- The Reveal
I became interested in the subject of brain trauma among athletes as many of you did: from watching the news. I saw a particularly poignant report on Frontline on PBS. I was halfway through Players when Will Smith's movie Concussion was released. I didn't see it because I was afraid my book would be influenced by it. Since then, there have been additional high-profile tragic deaths of relatively young former football players. And I was quite moved to learn that brain injury from concussions and subconcussions can begin as early as high school for some players. I don't know what will happen to high-school and college football, but I suspect that many aspects of the sport will have to be changed in response to our growing awareness of the long-term effects it can have on players.
The complementary thread I weave into the story relates to the role of money in big-time college sports. Football and basketball, the two money sports, do a lot of good for many colleges and universities, as well as for many student-athletes, but the money is often a corrupting force. One of the characters in the book is a bagman: a person who delivers under-the-counter payments and illegal inducements to student-athletes and recruits. The bagman epitomizes the corruption in some college athletics programs.
As Detective Karen Seagate enters into an alien world of college athletics, she remains cynical, rude, and depressed. She lies constantly and assumes that most of what people say is untrue. She expects nothing good to happen to her and is rarely surprised. She's too high-maintenance for most men and for all bosses. Really, there would be no good reason for anyone to want to have anything to do with her--except that she is extremely good at figuring out which liar is also a killer.
Karen Seagate still curses--a lot--and she still gives her partner, Ryan, a hard time. I hope, however, that readers will see that, despite her rough edges, she has a real humanity, and she tries to treat others, especially the less-fortunate souls she comes in contact with, fairly and compassionately. Part of this new-found sensitivity is a result of her experience working with Ryan and the new chief, as well as her largely successful efforts to manage her alcoholism.
I want to thank the many readers of the previous six books in the series who have gotten in touch with me. I appreciate all your comments. And I hope you're willing to give Players a try. I think the topic is important--not only for football fans but for anyone who cares about keeping kids safe.