RARA-AVIS: Charlie Huston's Caught Stealing

From: T. Kent Morgan ( tkmorgan@shaw.ca)
Date: 30 Dec 2006

For purposes of full disclosure, I want advise list members that that I read the messages in the archives about this book before posting this comment. Because of my interest in sports mysteries/fiction, I picked this book up not long after it came out. Most reviews/blurbs mentioned that Hank Thompson was an ex- ballplayer who now was tending bar in NYC. Finally last night I took it off the shelf and was turned off by page 7.

First of all, the extent of Thompson's ballplaying was high school. Here's the first bit that turned me off. Huston has Thompson remembering his high school career.

"You're a four-tool player: bat, glove, arm and legs. You play center field. You lead the team in homers, ERA, RBI, stolen bases and have no errors."

Anyone who knows baseball knows that ERA is not a batting statistic, but a pitching statistic that stands for earned run average. Maybe Huston meant BA for batting average.

Here's the next paragraph.

"In the regional championship game you are caught stealing third. You slide hard into the bag as the third baseman leaps to snare a high throw from the plate. Your cleats dig into the bottom of the base and as you pop up out of your slide, the third baseman is coming down with the ball. He lands on the ankle of your caught foot and as you continue up, he falls down with his full weight on your lower leg."

Caught stealing, I don't think so. Clearly, Thompson was safe, not out, so he had a stolen base and was not caught stealing. I assume that the title, Caught Stealing, refers to more than this incident, but I'll never know. With those errors, Huston (and his editor) lost me as a reader for this book and the others in the series.

Am I the only person who can be turned off this quickly by mistakes of this type?

Kent Morgan

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