The Barnes & Noble Review
Although editor Otto Penzler states in the introduction to Murder Is My Racquet that the term "tennis" conjures up images of fresh white clothes, elite country clubs, and well-mannered applause, his newest anthology of tennis-related mysteries is anything but genteel.
Featured within are 14 never-before-published stories by some of the genre's biggest names, including Lawrence Block, Lisa Scottoline, Kinky Friedman, David Morrell, and Ridley Pearson. The world's most talented -- and temperamentally challenged -- tennis player is the focus of Block's "Terrible Tommy Terhune." Mr. TNT, as he has been tagged by the media, is a loose cannon on the court. Cussing out officials, breaking racquets, and getting ejected from matches has led Tommy to try different therapies for his uncontrollable temper tantrums. When all other treatments fail, Tommy secretly travels to West Africa and participates in a voodoo ceremony -- with unforeseen results. "Needle Match" by Peter Lovesey is a mystery about a Wimbledon ball boy who, in 1981 when John McEnroe defeated Bjorn Borg in a legendary battle, witnessed an unlikely -- and unsolved -- murder right on the courts. Daniel Stashower's "A Peach of a Shot" explores relationships, doubles tennis, and those once-in-a-lifetime overhead smashes that your spouse will never forget…
The strength of this uniquely themed anthology, aside from the impressive all-star list of contributors, is its sheer diversity; no two stories are even remotely similar. Featuring a range of fascinating characters, from Mafia hit men to conniving proctologists to homicidal parents of promising young athletes, this collection of tennis-inspired whodunits is, simply put, superb. Paul Goat Allen
Mystery maven Penzler's latest all-original sports anthology offers 14 mostly high-quality tales of the underside of lawn tennis, the traditional game of sometimes not so gentle men (and women). There's something to suit every taste, from the short and light (Daniel Stashower's "A Peach of a Shot" and Kinky Friedman's "Tennis, Anyone?") to grittier psychological stories (John Harvey's "Promise" and Robert Leuci's "A Killer Overhead"). In Lisa Scottoline's amusing "Love Match," the tennis-playing protagonist is just plain lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Set in the South in 1948, Stephen Hunter's gripping "Stephen Longacre's Greatest Match" provides a lesson in race relations when a young white man, a ne'er-do-well from a wealthy family, tries to redeem himself by taking on a poor black man as his doubles partner. Notable chiefly for its closing pun is David Morrell's "Continental Grip," about the baffling murder of a Sante Fe, N.Mex., tennis pro. Other top-rank contributors include Lawrence Block, James W. Hall, Peter Lovesey and Judith Kelman. This tome is the perfect companion to have in the bag for those rain delays at Wimbledon. Agent, Nat Sobel. (June 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fourteen original tales of "love, death, and tennis" from Lawrence Block, Kinky Friedman, John Harvey, and more! Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fourteen new tennis-themed short stories by good authors writing their worst. The only players who show a modicum of style and originality are ex-cop Robert Leuci, whose "A Killer Overhead" sets a hit man loose on an abusive spouse and then on the displeased tennis dad who gets more than he bargained for, and Jeremiah Healy, whose "A Debt to the Devil" takes a p.i. to a tennis community to solve a wrongly labeled felony-murder. More predictably, and flatly, umpires take revenge on an aging tennis brat (Mike Lupica), a McEnroe clone shows his temper off-court (Lawrence Block), voodoo decimates the school tennis team (Judith Kelman), the country club set is set back by an inner-city kid (Stephen Hunter), the ballboys compete (Peter Lovesey), a duffer takes a swing (David Morrell), the mob and the FBI surround the court (Ridley Pearson), the D.A. gets a tennis lesson (Lisa Scottoline), a phenom gets whacked (James W. Hall), a couple serves badly (Daniel Stashower) and a baby disrupts play (John Harvey). Kinky Friedman barely acknowledges the anthology's theme in "Tennis, Anyone?" but by this time readers will have had their fill of smashes, lobs, lines calls and the drama of watching grass grow at Wimbledon. Editor Penzler must have thought tennis mysteries would be as profitable as anthologies headlining cats or Christmas, but the only way this works is as a soporific.