Review: "Three Strikes—You're Dead!" edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman & Marcia Talley


Three Strikes—You’re Dead!

edited by Donna Andrews,
Barb Goffman & Marcia Talley

Wildside Press, 2024


Three Strikes—You’re Dead! is an enjoyable collection of fourteen sports-themed tales with an impressive variety—the stories range from baseball to ultimate frisbee to bull riding and from whodunit to hardboiled—with nary a dud. Alan S. Orloff’s wonderful “Murder at Home” is an almost impossible crime about a murder during a televised baseball playoff game. The victim, P.J. “Bulldog” Johnson, is universally disliked, which means everyone has a motive, but (fortunately for Rick Baines, an assistant hitting coach tapped by the team’s General Manager to crack the case) the suspects are limited to the players celebrating Bulldog’s ninth inning game winning run at home plate.

“The Ultimate Bounty Hunter,” by Sherry Harris, is a clever and humorous tale about a bounty hunter, Elspeth Mead—“El to my friends. Ellie to my frenemies”—tracking a financial fraudster for failing to appear at his bond hearing. El’s only qualifications for the gig is a high-powered defense attorney mother and an unquenchable love for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries. El gets her man, but it’s not as easy as Ms. Plum makes it look. “Punch-Drunk,” by William Ade, is a hardboiled pleasure about a near-retirement detective trying to clear a boxer who killed his opponent in the ring. The conclusion is surprising and just right.

Adam Meyer’s “Double Fault” is a different kind of mystery—one where the reader gets to watch the crime unfold—about an unemployed tennis pro getting his due. “Of Mice and (Murdered) Men,” by Rosalie Spielman, is as much fantasy as mystery since the main player is a girl with the ability to shapeshift into anything she wants to be. But when she witnesses a murder, without ever seeing the perp, she is in a hard place because she was a mouse trying to steal the answers to a test when it happened.

Barb Goffman’s “A Matter of Trust,” is a tasty treat about jelly donuts, bicycling, and lies. Oh, and there is a murder and a bunch of clear-eyed irony, too. My favorite story in the collection, “And Now, an Inspiring Story of Tragedy Overcome,” by Joseph S. Walker, has a hardboiled attitude and a wholesome take on family obligation and love. It is about competitive figure skating and organized crime. Also included are terrific stories by Smita Harish Jain, Kathryn Prater Bomey, Robin Templeton, and Maddi Davidson.

Click here to purchase the Kindle edition or here for the paperback at Amazon.


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