Friday, August 28, 2009

Dirty Water by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith

Tomorrow is the second meeting of our book club, which includes Serena, our husbands, and one of our co-workers. I realize now that I never talked about our first meeting in July, when we discussed The Hunger Games, but it was a great time. Everyone enjoyed the book, and we managed to get in a full two hours of discussion while eating chili, tortilla chips and cheese, and banana bread. (Interesting combination, but it was delicious.)

This time around, we read Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith (and we'll be having Boston-themed foods). Serena snagged a copy of this book at BEA for my husband, who's a huge Red Sox fan. I'm a sports widow (he's watching his Patriots play the Redskins as I type this), but as long as it doesn't bother him that I'd rather nap or read during the games, it won't bother me that he completely shuts out the rest of the world when his teams are on tv.

I'll admit I wasn't thrilled when his book was picked because it just didn't seem like my kind of book, but I'm glad I was willing to give it a try because I ended up enjoying it.

Dirty Water opens with the 2007 Red Sox finding a one-month-old baby in their clubhouse. The baby, nicknamed Baby Ted Williams, is fine, but the players soon learn that his mother, Cinthia Sanchez, is the woman who was found dead in the Back Bay fens. Strangely, an ESPN reporter receives a photo that supposedly shows the baby's mother, but the woman in the picture is not Cinthia Sanchez. Meanwhile, a minor league player for the Red Sox, Luis Sanseverra, claims that the women in the photo is his girlfriend, and he is distraught because she's supposedly back in Cuba and definitely not a mother. Enter David Ortiz, the beloved Red Sox player known as "Big Papi," who determines that Luis is Cuban -- not Dominican like everyone thought -- and he likely was kidnapped from his homeland and sent through a pipeline that brings talented Cuban baseball players to the United States.

Boston Homicide Detective First Grade Rocky Patel is put on the case because he's the best at what he does -- and the only one in the department unfazed about the Red Sox's involvement in the case. Patel and his partner, Sgt. Marty Flanagan, are complete opposites and make an interesting pair. The two are thrust into a complicated case involving a murder, a shady sports agent, illegal dealings in the realm of baseball recruiting, and a blogger who seems to know more about the case than they do.

While it's not necessary to know the Red Sox players to enjoy the book, I'm glad I pay attention when my husband talks sports. The mother-son writing team of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith know baseball, and their love for the Red Sox and the city of Boston shines through in Dirty Water. I found myself missing my favorite city (I went to college in Boston) as I read the book. The plot was complex enough to hold my attention and keep me wondering, especially about the involvement of Baby Ted's family -- who seemed distraught by grief one minute and sketchy the next -- and I found myself fascinated by all the greed tied to "America's favorite pastime." (I know the book is fictional, but the greed is not.)

But what really impressed me about Dirty Water was the characters. I like how the Smiths used actual Red Sox players in the story, but the more I read, the more the Red Sox were pushed to the sidelines. Patel and Marty stole the show. Marty cracked me up, traveling to Los Angeles to learn more about the business dealings of the "superagent" and falling in lust with the agent's beautiful but equally shady receptionist. And I just loved Patel, a thoughtful, meditative family man whose way of speaking is out of place among the Boston accents.

At the end of each chapter, there is a post by Jay the blogger, whose main focus is the nightly Red Sox games and other baseball news. While the posts were interesting -- with Jay confronting disgruntled Yankees fans and revealing information about the murder case and the pipeline of Cuban players -- I didn't feel they were integral to the plot. But they didn't stop me from enjoying the book.

Dirty Water obviously is a must-read for die-hard Red Sox fans, but I think readers who enjoy a good mystery every now and then should give it a try as well.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Dirty Water at Book Expo America 2009.


Blodeuedd said...

Sounds pretty interesting :)
Perhaps I will have a look at this one

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've seen reviews of this one around, and immediately forwarded it to a friend of mine who is from Boston. I would think for a big Sox fan this would be the best of both worlds. And entertaining even if you like the Cubs!

Serena said...

My mom will be picking this up when she's in town for the National Book Festival. Even my dad's heard about this book, but I doubt he'll actually read it.

bermudaonion said...

The book sounds interesting, but I love college sports, not the pros.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read a YA book about the Red Sox (The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggot), and thought I would hate it because I'm not into baseball, but I loved it! So I may have to get this one!

Staci said...

I love the idea of your book club wish I was close enough to join!!! This book sounds interesting and I'm glad that you stepped out of your comfort zone and ended up enjoying it!!

Lisa said...

A book club with the guys is a great idea! You'll certainly get to read different books that you would with an all female group.

Unknown said...

Anna -
What a lucky person....I want to be a part of a book club like this. How fun. :)

kalea_kane said...

I am a definite Sox fan (Pats too- I use to live in Rhode Island). This looks like a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a sports fan at all. When you mentioned the Red Sox all I could really think about was that movie, Fever Pitch, that came out a few years ago with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Still, the mystery that unfold in this book does sound extremely interesting. I'm glad that you gave it a go.

That's awesome that you and your husband are in a book club together. I'm trying to start one that my boyfriend can participate in. He's not a big reader and I'm trying to find a way to change that.

Veens said...

I don't reallt know what Red Sox is :D
But this book sounds interesting!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

So Happy to hear you enjoyed this one, and that your hubby is a Red Sox and Patriot's fan! You made my day LOL

Anna said...

~Blodeuedd: Let me know if you give it a try.

~Sandy: I think Sox fans will truly be able to appreciate it, but I don't think you have to be a Sox fan to enjoy it. One of our book club members knew nothing about Boston or the Sox before reading it, and she liked it well enough.

~Serena: I hope your mom will post a guest review on your blog!

~Bermudaonion: I'm the opposite, but I can't say I love either one really.

~Rhapsodyinbooks: I'll have to tell my husband and daughter about that book. I'm sure they'd want to read it.

~Staci: If you were close enough, you'd be more than welcome!

~Lit and Life: That's one of the best things about the club. So far, the books we've read were right up my hubby's alley, but that's about to change!

~Shellie: Thanks! We were thinking about ways to expand the club, but we haven't yet. I like the small number of people (5) and we've had some really great discussions.

~kalea_kane: My hubby loves all the Boston teams! Let me know if you read it.

~justicejenniferreads: My hubby absolutely loves Fever Pitch. Drew Barrymore in a Sox shirt...what more could he ask for! LOL I'm actually surprised my hubby hasn't dropped out of the club yet. We'll see what happens when he starts moving out of his comfort zone.

~Veens: I hope my e-mail explained it well enough for you!

~Diane: Glad to be of service. :)