RARA-AVIS: Noir Sports

From: T. Kent Morgan ( tkmorgan@shaw.ca)
Date: 23 Feb 2008

Mark wrote:
"Speaking of pseudonymous works by literary authors, didn't Don DeLillo write a book that purported to be the memoir of the first female professional hockey player, or something like that? Have no idea if it's hardboiled or noir."

It's titled Amazons and Cleo Birdwell is the pseudonym Delillo used. It's subtitled "an intimate memoir by the first woman ever to play in the National Hockey League." It was published in 1980 and I read it not long after publication. All I remember is that at the time I considered it to be the worst hockey novel ever written. Keep in mind that I'm a Canadian who grew up with the game, officiated for a number of years and still play oldtimers hockey.

Anyone interested in hockey mysteries should go to mysteryfile.com, asite run by Steve Lewis, and look for Hockey Ref Mystery. Jim Felton has compiled a list of mysteries that include references to hockey, not only mysteries about hockey. Richard Aleas, Jason Starr, Sara Paretsky, George V. Higgins, Robert B. Parker, Lawrence Block and Erle Stanley Gardner are some authors mentioned.

According to Felton, Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton was submitted by two people, one of whom was Mark on the Rara-Avis Yahoo group. It's possible at the time that Mark mentioned it that I would have commented about how unrealistic the hockey sequence that jumpstarted the storyline was. Hamilton had his protagonist Alex McKnight filling in as a goalie for the first time and stopping the leader of the opposing team. Kit Erdman provide the initial submission to Felton and wrote that "it establishes a sharp conflict between McKnight and the drug-crazed leader of the opposing team that drives the action through to the end of the novel." Felton seconded Erdman's assessment.

Take it from me, someone who had never played any goal in the past and if I remember correctly little if any hockey (McKnight had been a baseball player) could stop the type of skilled player described by Hamilton. He couldn't have stopped me and this poor hockey story took me right out of this mystery. And I have always enjoyed Hamilton's work.

Kent Morgan

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