“The appeal for me is the same as it ever was. Playing a child’s game for money can be hard on your self-respect. Even now, I’m still not a doctor or a diplomat, but I’m more than I was. I’m more than a guy on a bench cracking seeds, waiting for a lefty to bat in the eighth.
God help me if a man’s not entitled to that.” (Page 5)


Johnny Adcock is 35 and for more than a decade he has a secondary career to fall back on when his playing days are over. Major League Baseball these days is primarily made up of situational players who come in and out for this situation or that. Johnny Adcock is one of those guys as he has a very simple job as “the setup man.” He is the guy who comes in during the eighth inning to pitch to one guy, usually a lefty, in a pressure situation with men on base to get the out. If he does his job right in getting the out and preserving the potential win, the closer comes in to deal with the final few batters and finish the game on a winning note. Being 35 Adcock knows his playing days are numbered and that the money, 1.5 million a year, is really good for the amount of work he has to do. He has a lot of idle time to fill when he isn’t on the field and his secondary career is a great fit. It kind of came about by accident, but he really enjoys moonlighting as a private detective. Ball players frequently need a private detective and the word among his fellow players is out about Johnny and his second career.

Johnny plays for “The Bay Dogs of San Jose” and the backup catcher is a guy named Frankie Herrera. Frankie has a big problem regarding his wife and does not want it getting out. Adcock is discrete, but telling him and letting him see the evidence is very hard on Frankie. Way back in the day before they were married, Maria, was a stripper in the clubs. When money was really short she took the next logical step and made some very adult movies. One of the videos is now up on a free porn site on the internet. If Frankie and his wife Maria didn’t have two twin boys who will be five in the fall it might not matter so much. But, they do and Frankie does not want to the kids to ever learn what their mom did long ago.

Somebody sent the site link to Frankie’s cellphone as proof the video was out there on the internet. So far there has not been an actual request for money, but the intent is pretty clear to Frankie and his wife as well as Johnny. If Frankie wants Johnny’s help the first step is to hand the cell phone over to Adcock for as long as he needs it. Adcock will need to watch the video so that he can start trying to figure out if this is, as Adcock suspects, an extortion/black mail attempt. It seems like the typical “rip the ball player off” type case that Johnny has seen quite a few times before. But, there is nothing typical about this one as things very quickly escalate with a murder and more.

Those who are baseball fans will really enjoy The Setup Man as there are numerous references to living and past players, teams, and more. Baseball becomes a significant secondary character in the book while never burying the main storyline of the mystery. Billed as a thriller by the publisher, the book is more of a mystery that quickly expands in depth as the tale featuring plenty of interesting characters, a variety of detailed settings, and lots of complexity unfolds. The various storylines combine together in The Setup Man making it a read that keeps the reader solidly entertained from start to finish.
The Setup Man
T. T. Monday (aka Nick Taylor)
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Doubleday)
March 2014
ISBN# 978-0-385-53845-9
Hardback (e-book, audio, and paperback also available)
274 Pages
Material was picked up to read and review via the Plano Public Library System because Kaye George wrote about it last month in one of her “Monday With Kaye” review segments.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

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