"Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery"
(Reviewed by Mary Whipple JAN 30, 2009)
“Craziness at Fenway right now. As I type, Jason Varitek is not in the dugout (he wasn’t gonna catch the first game anyway with Wake on the mound). He’s at Deaconness [Hospital]. A baby was found in the Red Sox clubhouse before the game started, and Tek went with it in the ambulance.”
Filled with all the pizzazz and color one would expect of any mystery involving Red Sox players from Boston’s World Series-winning 2007 team, Dirty Water is sure to keep Boston fans smiling at the inside peeks they get of the lives and personalities of their favorite Boston baseball stars. At the same time, however, they will become caught up in a murder mystery involving baseball’s seediest superagents and criminal elements operating between Florida and the Caribbean--not to mention the search for the parents of a one-month-old baby who has been found abandoned in the interview room of the Red Sox clubhouse.
In the first dozen pages alone, the reader meets Joe Cochran (clubhouse manager), Terry Francona (the manager, known as Tito, in honor of his ballplayer father), Manny Ramirez (who won’t play unless he has his special aftershave), fleet-footed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (who is still learning how to handle the caroms off the Green Monster), knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (and his special catcher Doug Mirabelli), Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia (clubhouse competitors for the title of slowest players on the team), Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima (who are learning Spanish from David Ortiz faster than they are learning English), and “Big Papi” himself, David Ortiz (whose red Mercedes with a hand-made engine goes from zero to sixty in less than four seconds).
When the abandoned baby is discovered, the entire team, most of them devoted fathers, becomes involved in his welfare. With Captain Jason Varitek riding escort, the baby is taken to the hospital, where he is named “Ted Williams” by the nurses. The rabid Boston press gets wind of the story from a young blogger named Jay, whose inside information about the events in the clubhouse is suspicious. And when an ESPN sportscaster receives a FedEx envelope containing a photograph and a note declaring “This is the mother of the baby found in Fenway Park,” the photo is shown on TV, and the hearts of the entire Red Sox Nation are engaged.
When DNA tests show that a murdered woman found in the Back Bay fens is the mother of baby Ted Williams, Boston Homicide Detective 1st Grade Rocky Patel, a brilliant investigator and former boxer, and his partner Marty Flanagan become the Boston Police investigators, and they are soon questioning a minor league pitcher from Portland, Maine, and members of the Sanchez family who live near the fens. As the investigation becomes more complex and expands outside the Boston area, Rocky must draw on his connections with FBI agent Poppy Rice, with whom he has previously worked, to get key information in time to prevent another murder.
Filled with more twists and turns than most other novels contain in twice the number of pages, Dirty Water gets its title from the song played at Fenway after each Red Sox win. Exploring the plight of young foreign ballplayers who want to play in the big leagues in the U.S., their vulnerability to promises made by the unscrupulous, and their natural fear of the police, it vividly describes the international criminal elements which ply the waters between Florida and Caribbean nations, taking advantage of innocent people hoping for a better life.
Authors Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and her Red Sox blogger son Jere have created a mystery here which will delight Boston Red Sox fans with its peeks inside the Red Sox clubhouse and its insights into the players and their relationships, with each other and with their fans. The Fenway neighborhood, with all its funky charm, its lively residential community, and its endless places of interest comes alive, even for those who may have not spent most of their lives visiting Fenway over and over again, hoping for The Curse to end. For Red Sox fans, this mystery is great fun—an entertaining way to pass these frigid winter nights while “waiting till next year” and another World Championship.
- Amazon readers rating: from 5 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Book of Phoebe (1985)
- Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman (1987)
- The Port of Missing Men (1989)
- Master of Illusion (1994)
- An American Killing (1998)
Poppy Rice Series:
Red Sox Mystery:
- Dirty Water (October 2008) (witten with Jere Smith)
- Girls of Tender Age (January 2006)
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- MostlyFiction's page for Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and her Poppy Rice Series
- A Red Sox Fan From Pinstriped Territory -- Jere Smith's blog
- The Joy of Sox interview with Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith
- Hall of Fame press on Dirty Water
- Boston Area Small Press review of Dirty Water
- Peace Corp review of Dirty Water
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About the Author:
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut and has lived in Connecticut all her life except for the two years she served as a Peace Corps volunteer on Mt. Cameroon.
She has published eight previous novels, have been reprinted in seven foreign languages.
Her memoir, Girls of a Tender Age is presently under option for a film. Smith has had short fiction and essays in collections, and written book reviews for The New York Times, the Hartford Courant, the Boston Globe and others.
She has taught fiction writing at Fairfield University and participated in writing seminars throughout the country. In March 2001, she was guest teacher-writer at the University of Ireland and on the Aran Islands.
Jere (pronounced Jerry) Smith is Mary-Ann's son. Jere is a lifelong (4th generation) Red Sox fan. Jere spent the first 29 years of his life in the one county in New England that gets the Yankees on TV, but not the Red Sox. He’s got a 10-game plan at Fenway and regularly travels to watch the Sox in other cities. In 2005, he moved to Manhattan where he wore his Sox cap proudly, and worked with the elderly. He’s written about the Red Sox on his own time since April 2004 on his blog, A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory. Jere recently moved to the Boston area, where he has fulfilled his life-long dream of getting to see the Red Sox on TV every night.