I've admitted it before, and I'll admit it again: I'm Robert B. Parker's target audience. Whatever it is that he does, I like it. So naturally I read his nonseries novel Double Play. I have a feeling that this book fits into my previous comments about the generation gap in the mystery-reading public. It seems to me that this is definitely an Old Guy's book.
Number one, it's about baseball. How many young baseball fans do you know? Don't young people all like some cooler, faster-moving sport?
Number two, it was written by Robert B. Parker, who's even older than I am. (Maybe that's why I like his work.)
Number three, it's set in the 1940's. I don't remember much about the time Jackie Robinson came up to the major leagues, but soon after that I became an avid baseball fan and baseball card collector (check out some of my cards here if you'd like to see them). Parker really nails the time period, especially in the autobiographical chapters interspersed throughout the narrative. In fact, the short chapter on Life magazine is worth the price of admission all by itself. The autobiographical chapters are, for me, the most interesting part of the book, since they make the setting personal for Parker and in a way for me.
Number four, it has plenty of that male bonding stuff that's in all the other Parker books you ever read. And all that stuff about a code, too. This time, the main character is a guy named Burke. I didn't catch the first name; maybe it's Edmund. I mean, that would fit, right? Edmund Burke, Edmund Spenser. That Parker is a real cutie, slipping in those English major jokes the way he does.
So what? you're saying. What about the plot? Well, that's about Burke, who gets a job as Jackie Robinson's bodyguard for Robinson's first year in the major leagues. Burke is what we Old Guys used to call a burned-out case, thanks to WWII (The Big One) and his ex-wife. He's going to find a kind of redemption, though, thanks to Robinson and a woman named Lauren. You know that from the start, probably, so I'm not spoiling anything. How it happens is what you'll have to read the book to find out.