(Knopf Doubleday, $24.95, 272 pages)

Who is this author?

T.T. Monday knows the way to in San Jose. That’s because he lives there. The Setup Man is his first thriller, but you won’t find much online about T.T. That’s because he’s really Nick Taylor, who blogs for PaloAtoonline.com  about books and also writes about baseball.  He’s written two novels as Taylor, but  “The Setup Man” is his first “baseball thriller” as T.T. Monday.  Here is what he blogged about choosing that pen name:

“My decision to use a pseudonym was a mix of three factors: one, I wanted to create a new brand for work in a new genre (like J.C. Oates); two, I was hoping to escape my dismal sales record; and three, I thought it would be fun.

“In case you’re wondering, “T.T.” doesn’t stand for anything. I just happen to like names with a repeated initial (ee cummings, A. A. Milne, Z.Z. Packer, B.B. King, J.J. Abrams, C.C. Sabathia).

“When I finished the book, my agent agreed to send it to editors under the pseudonym. . .  . We eventually sold the book to Doubleday. . .  It wasn’t a first-novel payday, but I felt good about the deal. The editor was young, enthusiastic, and full of ideas for the manuscript. Even better, he was comfortable with me being T.T. Monday, even though he knew who I was. He even offered to let me publish the book as Nick Taylor.

“In the end I went with T.T. By that point I was invested in the idea of a new brand. I even had a new website. I hadn’t escaped my sales record (those numbers will be chiseled on my tomb), but I had reset my own expectations. As T.T. Monday, I had new hope of reaching a wider audience.

What is this book about?

Johnny Adcock is a setup man, a Major League Baseball relief pitcher who specializes in facing left-handed batters in the eighth inning, before the closer comes in to put the game away for his team. But he’s also a private investigator in his spare time, and his fellow players, whose big bucks make them a fat target for criminals, grifters and unhappy wives, know that Johnny has the smarts and discretion to relieve those problems, especially when they are shunning publicity.

But when a teammate begins telling Johnny he needs help with marital issues and then suddenly dies in a car wreck, the pitcher/ P.I. gets tangled up in murder, porn, Mexican cartels and a grand slam of a baseball scandal. Has Johnny got what it takes to leave this field alive?

Why you’ll like it:

Monday/Taylor knows the game and he knows how to write a lively fastball of a book. If you are a baseball fan, or a mystery fan, or both, here is a book that should fill your summertime (or any other time) light reading needs. Play ball!

What others are saying:

From Booklist’s starred review: “ Johnny Adcock knows he’s fortunate. He’s paid $1.5 million per year for about 10 minutes’ work, about 70 times a year. He’s the Setup Man, whose job is to pitch the eighth inning, or even to pitch to a single left-handed batter. But he’s also a realist. At 35, he’s a senior citizen, a torn ligament away from retirement. So he moonlights as a PI, solving the myriad problems that can befall suddenly rich, usually headstrong young men. In this debut, Adcock’s client is teammate Frankie Herrera, who is concerned that porn tapes starring his wife may soon surface on the Internet. But before Adcock can even begin to investigate, Frankie is dead in an auto accident. What Adcock finds is a convoluted mix of prostitution, murder, Mexican cartels, and retired ballplayers. And while he’s detecting, he’s traded to another team, then abruptly waived. Monday’s plot is inventive, but it’s the verisimilitude of Adcock’s baseball life that makes this one a delight. Adcock is a solid MLB citizen, but he’s aware of the many quirks endemic in baseball’s manners and mores, and he shares them freely with the reader. Here’s hoping he has many more seasons and many more cases.”

Publishers Weekly says: Monday’s clever debut introduces 35-year-old Johnny Adcock, a Major League Baseball player winding down a 13-year pro career and developing a sideline as an investigator whose clientele consists primarily of fellow ballplayers. Backup catcher Frankie Herrera approaches Adcock, who has developed a reputation as a dependable setup man for the Bay Dogs of San Jose, Calif., about an embarrassing sex video featuring wife, Maria. Even before Adcock begins to investigate, the case takes a deadly turn, and Herrera’s problem morphs into a case of murder, prostitution, and sex trafficking that paints a target on Adcock’s own back. Monday deftly describes the perks and pitfalls of life in pro ball—the highs, the lows, the boredom, the fragility—and the temptations. Monday, the pseudonym of Nick Taylor (author of the historical novel The Disagreement), has delivered a rare double—a book that succeeds as both a mystery and a baseball novel.”

“I’m a sucker for baseball fiction. I’m a sucker for private detective fiction. That makes me a double sucker for The Setup Man by T.T. Monday. I was more than happy to ride shotgun with Johnny Adcock as he battled Mexican drug lords, surrendered dingers to steroid-muscled designated hitters and described everything with a sense of humor even in the midst of great physical or emotional pain. Much fun, much fun, much fun,”- says sports columnist and New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville.

“Don’t shy away from this mystery if you’re not a baseball fan. The industry is seamlessly interwoven into the story and you’ll pick up all you need to know without any effort. If you are a baseball fan, dive in headfirst….This is the author’s first thriller, but I hope it’s not his last,”- says Suspense Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews says: “A throwback Southern California mystery in modern pinstripes, this book leaves no doubt that the author is a fan of both Sam Spade and Bull Durham’s Crash Davis. When a teammate and a 17-year-old girl are found dead in a crashed car, aging relief pitcher Johnny Adcock’s secondary skills as a sleuth are put to their most severe test. Johnny is in his final stretch with the San Jose Bay Dogs, a fictional major league squad. The dead teammate, backup catcher Frankie Herrera, had asked for help on a blackmail scheme involving an old porno film his wife appeared in. The girl in the car with Frankie, it turns out, was a prostitute, one of many controlled by an insidious cartel that targets baseball towns. Far from grief-stricken, Frankie’s widow is involved in the operation. So, in classic fashion, is just about everyone.  . . . Monday writes with a smooth, easygoing authority, wryly referencing noir and baseball fiction rather than trying to reinvent them. Johnny’s internal monologue can’t compete with Kevin Costner’s character’s, but there’s still fun to be had in watching him be crafty enough to strike out a former battery mate on a breaking ball but cocky enough to give up a game-winning home run on a fastball the next time he faces him. Johnny is in worse pain watching the ball’s flight  than when he is beat up, tied up and knocked unconscious by the bad guys. A treat for readers of mystery or baseball novels, this debut will be especially enjoyable for fans of both.”

When is it available?

It’s on deck at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and its Albany and Ropkins branches.

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