Review: Double Switch by T.T. Monday

Double Switch.jpgThe 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.

ISBN: 9780385539951
Format: Hardback
Pages: 240
Imprint: Doubleday Books
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: 1-Mar-2016
Country of Publication: United States

Review: The Set Up Man by T.T. Monday

The Setup ManTHE SET UP MAN is a fantastic debut crime novel entrenched in the world of Major League Baseball, and the cruel underworld of people trafficking and prostitution. T.T. Monday balances insights into these spheres, crafting a novel that will appeal to both crime fiction aficionados and baseball fans. And if you’re like me, unfamiliar with the game, Monday streamlines the baseball vernacular so that even greenhorns will enjoy the narrative.

T.T. Monday introduces aging pitcher Johnny Adcock, who moonlights as a private investigator, discreetly assisting his fellow professional athletes with their personal issues – when a player, coach or agent has a problem they need solved quietly, Addock’s the man they call. In THE SET UP MAN, that problem snowballs into something with life-threatening consequences. The novel boasts plenty of deception and deceit; plot twists abound; and throws plenty of spanners into Addock’s baseball career – there are rumours of a promotion, suggestions he might be traded, all of which play at the back of his mind as he tries to solve the case involving the apparent murder of his teammate, and his involvement in a prostitution ring. 

Despite the implausibility of the novel’s central conceit – a pro baseball player doubling as a private investigator – Monday’s use of the first-person perspective allows the reader access to Addock’s innermost thoughts. He acknowledges his parallel careers are incongruous, but can’t bring himself to quit either; he’s failed at being a husband once, and ponders the repercussions of a second attempt. The question, of course, is how can Monday return to the character without treading over familiar ground? Whatever – – that’s a question for another time. Just take my word for it innovative and fresh, THE SET UP MAN was a nice surprise in my reading pile, and it’s something I highly recommend adding to your own.

You can read an interview with T.T. Monday on TheReadingRoom blog.