Cover image for Double play
Title:
Double play
Author:
Parker, Robert B., 1932-2010.
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780399151880
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Robert B. Parker fans have been quick to embrace each addition to his remarkable canon, from the legendary Spenser series to the novels featuring Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall. And his occasional forays into the past-Gunman's Rhapsody, a fresh take on Wyatt Earp, and Poodle Springs, based on a Raymond Chandler story-have dazzled critics and confirmed his place among the greatest writers of this century. With Double Play, he presents us with a book he was literally born to write. It is 1947, the year Jackie Robinson breaks major-league baseball's color barrier by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers-and changes the world. This is the story of that season, as told through the eyes of a difficult, brooding, and wounded man named Joseph Burke. Burke, a veteran of World War II and a survivor of Guadalcanal, is hired by Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey to guard Robinson. While Burke shadows Robinson, a man of tremendous strength and character suddenly thrust into the media spotlight, the bodyguard must also face some hard truths of his own, in a world where the wrong associations can prove fatal. A brilliant novel about a very real man, Double Playis a triumph: ingeniously crafted, rich with period detail, and re-sounding with the themes familiar to Parker's readers-honor, duty, responsibility, and redemption.


Author Notes

Robert Brown Parker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on September 17, 1932. He received a B.A. from Colby College in 1954, served in the U.S. Army in Korea, and then returned to receive a M. A. in English literature from Boston University in 1957. He received a Ph.D. in English literature from Boston University in 1971.

Before becoming a full-time writer in 1979, he taught at Lowell State College, Bridgewater State College and Northwestern University.

In 1971, Parker published The Godwuff Manuscript, as homage to Raymond Chandler. The character he created, Spencer, became his own detective and was featured in more than 30 novels. His Spencer character has been featured in six TV movies and the television series Spencer: For Hire that starred Robert Urich and ran from 1985 to 1988.

He is also the author of the Jesse Stone series, which has been made into a series of television movies for CBS, and the Sunny Randall series. His novel Appaloosa (2005) was made into a 2008 movie directed by and starring Ed Harris. He has received numerous awards for his work including an Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1977 for The Promised Land, Grand Master Edgar Award for his collective oeuvre in 2002, and the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He died of a heart attack on January 18, 2010 at the age of 77.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The problem with this new novel from the creator of hard-boiled uber-hero Spenser is simple: this is a Spenser novel with new names. Burke is the Spenser clone. He's back from World War II after sustaining severe wounds. After his bride leaves him, he loses his emotional center. After his boxing career fizzles, he hires himself out as a tough guy. (Sound familiar Spenser fans?) A Mob guy refers Burke to Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who needs someone to protectackie Robinson, who is about to become baseball's first black player. Burke and Robinson swap lots of good-natured racial barbs (a la Spenser and Hawk), while Burke confronts the local Mob with the help of a gunsel named Cash (Vince Haller by another name). Interspersed among the mayhem are somewhat disconcerting (why here?) recollections (assumed to be Parker's) of trips to the ballpark in the forties. So is this book bad? No, it's quite good actually, but Parker is at a point in his career (he got there a long time ago) where great athletes sometimes find themselves: 50 more homers for Barry Bonds? Not as many as last year! Despite the similarities to his Spenser series, Parker's characterizations of Burke and Robinson will resonate with readers because, as always, Parker connects with the romantic tough guy residing in so many souls. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.