I’m going to preface this review by saying I am a diehard Phillies fan, and the ’08 World Series win was one of the best nights (or two, if you know what I mean…rain…) in memory. The plot summary of Allen Schatz’s Game 7: Dead Ball sounded like an interesting story, but the fact that it takes place during that series made it a must buy. But what I found was that the story itself drew me in far more than the teams playing. As a matter of fact, I was so into the plot and characters, I glossed right over mentions of the games themselves.
Game 7: Dead Ball follows the lives of childhood friends who have all gone in different directions since their college days. The main character, Marshall Connors, is called in to umpire the World Series because of the medical status another, and now must deal with umpiring for old friends. However the plot isn’t centered around Connors’ reluctance to call a ball outside on the Phillies’ star pitcher – rather, it’s the life and death situation he’s put in by murders and kidnapping.
I won’t get too in depth into the plot – several other reviews online do an excellent job of it, as does Schatz’s book description. I’d just like to praise the writing style, the plot line, the deep characters, realistic dialogue, suspenseful chapter endings, fantastic local scenery (being from near the Philly area, I can see Schatz knows Philly as well), and thrilling conclusion.
One thing I do want to make an important note about: Game 7: Dead Ball was one of the cleanest, most well-written works I’ve seen to date from an independent author. Schatz has not only crafted an excellent story line with lifelike characters, but he’s done it sans typos and awkward sentences, something that always pulls me out of a story. Here? Nothing of the sort. The only possible negative I can even remotely think of is that Schatz introduces main characters that all have significant roles in the story, and I sometimes lost track of them. Then again, perhaps because of my own work situation and not being able to read it straight through (took several weeks), that’s my own fault for losing track!
Game 7: Dead Ball was one of the best novels I’ve read all year, and I’ve already picked up Schatz’s sequel, 7th Inning Death, which picks up with Marshall Connors again.
Highly recommended for all suspense, mystery, and most especially, baseball fans. A no-brainer for the price of a venti latte…seriously.