Winner of the 1985 Edgar Allan Poe Award
for Best First Novel
This was my first stab at writing a mystery. When it won the Edgar, I felt like one of those rare major leaguers who homers in his first at-bat. In reality, it was a rough road. My agent at the time (a charmless woman who would become one of the most powerful agents in the business) had struck out with 10 or 12 publishers, then told me to put the manuscript in a drawer and move on. I declined, telling her to send it to Walker & Company, which bought it. When it was nominated for an Edgar, I was miffed when my agent didn’t bother to call to congratulate me. When I won and she didn’t bother to call, I fired her by letter. You can bet I heard from her then. She screamed at me on the phone for a couple of minutes; “What makes you think you can fuck with me and [agency name here]!” is the part of her tirade that’s stayed with me. By the time Strike Three You’re Dead (thank you, Betsy Meyer, for that title) was later named one of “the century’s 100 favorite mysteries” by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, Harvey Blissberg had appeared in four more mysteries.
Here’s the gist of it in a few sentences:
The Providence Jewels, an American League-expansion team, have been taking a beating all season. Worse, relief pitcher Rudy Furth has just taken a mortal beating—and been left to die in the clubhouse whirlpool among whispers of mob corruption and violently lovesick groupies.
When the police investigation stalls, veteran Providence centerfielder Harvey Blissberg, who knew Rudy as well as anyone, decides to play detective as well. While trying to keep his average above .300 and his head above water with spunky local sports reporter Mickey Slavin, Harvey quietly stalks Rudy’s killer through major league locker rooms and the dark streets of Rhode Island’s capital city.