The Setup Man, the first Johnny Adcock novel, and indeed T.T. Monday’s debut, was a fine mystery starring aging Major League Baseball pitcher, Johnny Adcock, who moonlighted as a private detective to resolve the unique set of problems that afflict those in, and around, his elite profession. In its sequel, Double Switch, Adcock is up to his old tricks again — only this time, his opponents are even deadlier: ruthless South American smugglers lead by the female assassin known only as La Loba.
Adcock’s troubles begin when the beautiful Tiff Tate strolls into the bullpen. It’s a classic opening to a hardboiled tale, but in this setting, it comes off as innovative rather than archaic. Tate is a highly-paid stylist for some of the MLB’s biggest names: she defines appearances, refines personalities, and turns otherwise middling players into sportsmen with mass-market endorsement potential. But one of her clients has a problem: Yonel Ruiz, the rookie Cuban phenomenon, is being blackmailed by La Loba. His family is being held hostage, and if the kidnappers discover he’s gone to the police or the press, they’re dead. Johnny Adcock is the guy’s only hope. Only there’s more to Ruiz’s story – and Tiff Tate’s – than meets the eye.
The Johnny Adcock series is unabashedly T.T. Monday’s love-letter to hardboiled crime novels and baseball. The prose is crisp, with undertones of Chandler, but it never panders to the grandmaster. Adcock’s voice is distinct, reminiscent of the genre’s greatest hard-hitting but soft-hearted protagonists. Think Jack Reacher; only Adcock’s got to balance the pressures of life-and-death scenarios alongside a run for the playoffs! There’s a dash of sex, violence, and plenty of high stakes, both on the field and off, and Monday keeps the narrative moving at a rapid pace, deftly balancing the worlds Adcock inhabits.
Double Switch is chockfull of the elements that made its predecessor so darn good, but notched up to a higher level. So far, the Johnny Adcock novels have proven to be rip-roaring reads. Fingers crossed we are in for a trilogy, at the very least – readers will be left chomping at the bit for more.