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Blockade Billy
King, Stephen
Adult Fiction KING

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A quirky baseball player with a past shrouded in secrecy is the tragic hero of this macabre tale from the dark side of the all-American sport. In the voice of George "Granny" Grantham, retired third-base coach of the New Jersey Titans, King (Under the Dome) recalls the spring of 1957, when Billy Blakely, a catcher called up from the Titans' Iowa farm system, helped to boost the team out of the basement and add some excitement to the national pastime. Billy hits with such power and guards the plate with such determination (hence his eponymous nickname) that teammates are willing to forgive such eccentricities as his frequently addressing himself in the third person, or bloodying runners who collide with him. Of course, these kinks are clues to a shocking pathology that King coaxes out in a narrative steeped so perfectly in the argot of the game and the behavior of its players and fans that readers will willingly suspend their disbelief. As King's fiction goes, this suspenseful short is a deftly executed suicide squeeze, with sharp spikes hoisted high and aimed at the jugular on the slide home. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Combining a reminiscent, folksy first-person point of view of a third-base coach now in a retirement home with one of his best forms, the novella, King (Under the Dome) takes readers on a nostalgic journey to 1957. The framing device is forgotten almost instantly as the reader becomes engrossed in the story of a young player, William "Billy" Blakely, who is called up from the minors to get his big break on a major league team. There's something not quite right about Billy, but he scores as a catcher and a hitter until his sinister secret is unveiled. King excels when he mines the slightly off-kilter reality of seemingly ordinary people who are hiding dark secrets, and this story is no exception. Verdict Readers unfamiliar with baseball may feel a bit lost in the narrative, which is heavy in both baseball lingo and action, but those who love the game will appreciate the insider's knowledge and loving detail that King shares. Lavishly illustrated with Alex McVey's gorgeous pen-and-ink drawings., this read-at-one-gulp tale, which ends with an expected gruesome twist, will appeal to both King and baseball fans.-Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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