Praise for Double Play
“A noirish take on the Jackie Robinson story...engrossing...a refreshing change of pace.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Told with lean brilliance...The prose and dialogue are clipped, the images cold and dark as anything in 1940s noir, and yet between the lines beats a pulse of heart and hope. Finding out if they exist to be nurtured or snuffed is one reason these pages turn so quickly.”—New York Daily News
“Gracefully written...Parker weaves an engaging, fast-paced tale.”—USA Today
“Honest and vivid.”—Sports Illustrated
“Intelligent crime fiction...A crisp and insistent story line that gets you to the finish in a hurry. Mr. Parker’s tight prose style makes Hemingway seem almost blabby by comparison. It will probably help reinforce Mr. Parker’s reputation as one of the best crime fiction writers around. And give lots of readers a few hours of pleasure.”—The Washington Times
“Robert B. Parker hits a grand slam with his approach to the story of Jackie Robinson. This is a beautiful book, an important novel that helps us remember what it was like for those who fought the good fight in World War II, what racism was like in the bad old days, and a tale of the healing of a broken heart. The writing is like engraving the highest quality crystal; Parker guides the light to show us his levels of meaning.”—The Miami Herald
“Superb...Parker, always a clean writer, has never written so spare and tight a book; this should be required reading for all aspiring storytellers. Parker fans will recognize with joy many of the author’s lifelong themes (primarily, honor and the redemptive power of love), and in the Burke/Robinson dynamic, echoes of Spenser/Hawk (the PI’s black colleague). Here they will treasure the very essence of Parker in a masterful recreation of a turbulent era that’s not only a great and gripping crime novel but also one of the most evocative baseball novels ever written.”—Publishers Weekly
The Barnes & Noble Review
Robert B. Parker hits a home run with Double Play. Here's what happens when a bestselling suspense writer turns his remarkable talents to the task of writing a complex and captivating period story about American baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Set in 1947, the season Robinson started playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Double Play lives up to its name, interweaving the story of the man who broke baseball's color barrier with a compelling suspense story about power struggles, prejudice, organized crime, and personal honor. And Parker's readers get front-row seats for all the action, watching everything through the eyes of Joseph Burke, the ex-soldier, ex-boxer hired by the Dodgers to make sure no one harms their prize player. From the first, the Dodgers' manager makes it clear that Burke's job also includes making sure that the proud, strong-minded Robinson weathers the storm of controversy and prejudice surrounding him without becoming embroiled in fights or any other kind of scandal -- even if that means putting Burke's own life on the line. After nearly dying in combat during the war and coming home to find his wife has left him, Burke figures there's not much left to care about…until working with Robinson opens his eyes to the fact that some things in life are worth fighting for. Sue Stone
Parker pretty much defies category altogether in this deeply felt and intimately told memory tale, which takes place during the historic baseball season of 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color bar in major-league baseball by playing first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Fusing this chapter of sports history with a hard-boiled gangster plot and haunting recollections of his own Boston boyhood, Parker fashions a hugely entertaining fiction that also serves as a blueprint for the themes that preoccupy him as a writer and the code of values that sustains his work.
The New York Times
Double Play will appeal to readers who tell stories of baseball's past between innings of baseball's present.
Set in 1947, Parker's superb new novel imagines what it was like for Jackie Robinson, and more centrally for Robinson's (fictional) bodyguard, to see the color barrier broken in Major League baseball. This isn't Parker's first foray outside the mystery genre, though he remains best known for his Spenser PI series (this year's Bad Business, etc.); in 2001 he dramatized Wyatt Earp in Gunman's Rhapsody, and earlier he excelled with Perchance to Dream, Wilderness and Love and Glory. In an unusual gambit, however, this time he mixes his storytelling with his firsthand reminiscences (in chapters titled "Bobby") of growing up as a devoted Dodgers fan, a move that adds resonance and a sense of wonder to the taut narrative. The fiction, told in the third person, focuses on Joseph Burke, a WWII vet grievously wounded physically and emotionally by combat and its aftermath. Burke is a hired gun who allows himself no feelings, but when he signs on with Dodger owner Branch Rickey to protect Robinson from racist violence during the ballplayer's rookie season, he comes to respect, then love, the proud, controversial player. Burke also falls for Lauren, a self-destructive society girl with mob connections whom he worked for before Robinson, and it's from Lauren's troubles and the threat of violence surrounding Robinson that the novel's hard, smart action arises. Burke is a tough guy, and the narrative not set around baseball fields takes place in the white and black underworlds as Burke plays various gangsters against one another to protect both Lauren and Robinson. Parker, always a clean writer, has never written so spare and tight a book; this should be required reading for all aspiring storytellers. Parker fans will recognize with joy many of the author's lifelong themes (primarily, honor and the redemptive power of love), and in the Burke/Robinson dynamic, echoes of Spenser/Hawk (the PI's black colleague). Here they will treasure the very essence of Parker in a masterful recreation of a turbulent era that's not only a great and gripping crime novel but also one of the most evocative baseball novels ever written. (May 24) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A grand-slam combination of adventure, mystery and sportsand an evocative but unsentimental memoir. Fictional hero Joseph Burke is hired by Brooklyn Dodgers boss Branch Rickey to protect Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 was breaking baseball's color barrier. Burke himself has plenty of scar tissue, having had less than an ideal childhood and having been wounded at Guadalcanal and then abandoned by his wife when he returned home. (11 Oct 2004)
In this standalone historical from Parker, it is 1947, and the Brooklyn Dodgers have signed Jackie Robinson at first base. While a young Bobby Parker (that is, the author) avidly follows the national pastime, Joseph Burke, a shell-shocked World War II veteran, is working as a bodyguard in New York City. Emotionally stunted, Joseph lives in a world devoid of feeling-until he becomes Robinson's bodyguard. His confrontations with violent bigots as well as his own demons make up the main story line of Parker's baseball homage (besides the author and Jackie Robinson, it features real-life people like Branch Rickey, the Dodgers' then general manager). Bobby's life, family, and love of baseball are separate from that thread but just as compelling. The creator of the popular Spenser series, Parker knows how to tell a story and does his usual masterly job here; it will prove exciting even to those who are indifferent to baseball. Recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Fred M. Gervat, formerly with Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Ebbetts Field, 1947. Robinson's penciled in at first, a guy named Burke has his back, Parker benches Spenser (Back Story, 2000, etc.), and we get a gem of a book. Ex-marine Joseph Burke was shot up so badly at Guadalcanal that it took almost a year before he could walk from one end of a minuscule apartment to the other. And while he was bed-ridden his wife betrayed and deserted him, leaving wounds on top of wounds. But Burke is endlessly tough, physically fearless, and superbly trained to kill-the ideal candidate, Brooklyn Dodgers boss Branch Rickey decides, for a job he has in mind. He's just brought Jackie Robinson up from Montreal, he tells Burke, and plans to use him to break major-league baseball's color line, once thought impregnable. Rickey wants Burke to be Robinson's bodyguard, to protect him from the inevitable horde of vicious types who'll be ready to kill each and every time a black man appears in a Dodgers uniform. Can you do it? Rickey asks. "I got through Guadalcanal," Burke replies laconically. Robinson and Burke both treat speech as if it were an endangered species, and yet almost from the first they communicate as if they were brothers. Proud, inner-directed Robinson and embittered, closed-off Burke learn to trust and depend on each other. They need to, because it's just as Rickey foretold: the woods are full of predators, some of them as good with a gun as Burke is. When Ebbetts Field becomes a killing field and Burke makes Robinson's cause inextricably his own, the bodyguard experiences what he least expected: the sweetness of redemption. The talk is electric, the pacing breakneck, the cast colorful and empathic. After a couple of so-so efforts, Parker flat out nailsit here. Agent: Helen Brann/Helen Brann Agency