cover image The Spoiler

The Spoiler

Domenic Stansberry. Atlantic Monthly Press, $0 (278pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-075-4

Minor league baseball and the issue of small-town corruption are brought together in this barely satisfying crime novel set in the present but with a noir, 1940s atmosphere. Reporter Frank Lofton has driven across the country from his failed marriage in Denver and ruined reputation in California to the end of the line, Holyoke, Mass., where he takes freelance assignments with the local paper. He spends most of his time covering the losing Redwings, until the suspicious activities of the team's owners begin to attract his notice. Meanwhile, a spate of arson suggests a conspiracy to Lofton; one of the owners' cousins, a brunette privy to many secrets, approaches Lofton with a clue; and a troubled baseball player is found murdered. Lofton has his own worrieshe thinks he is fatally ill. In addition, everyone wants him to lay off the big story. The theme of a lone, heroic reporter in a town full of enemies is rendered with some authentic newsroom touches, but Stansberry's first novel gives away its culprit early on and never makes the search for the missing pieces suspenseful. (September 24)