Publisher: Maureen Lippert
Date of Publication: August 23rd, 2022
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Series: A Front Page Mystery
The Great Jewel Robbery—Book 1
Murder up to Bat—Book 2
Mystery with a whiff of romance…After falling in love with the quiet lake life and a certain police detective, former Chicago Tribune reporter Emma Moore trades interviewing jocks for chasing champion cows at the county fair. As a small-town newspaper reporter, she covers local topics both big and small, but when her friend Luke is arrested for the murder of the head coach of his club softball team, she’ll need to hone her investigative skills to clear his name. Emma calls up best friend Grace for help, and together the women go up against cutthroat parents willing to kill for a chance to get their daughters onto a premier college sports team.
It’s the bottom of the ninth with bases loaded, and murder is up to bat. Can Emma and her friends bring the heat and win the game?
The beauty queen’s solemn brown eyes showed indifference to the crowd around her.Murder up to Bat by Elizabeth McKenna
I have stated this in past reviews, but I need to read more mystery. Now, I know you all are sitting there, looking at my January Wrap-Up and going, “Really? But this list says you do!” Trust me; I don’t. And this lack of reading diversity was why I chose to review Murder up to Bat. I am glad that I did because this book was terrific to read.
Murder Up to Bat is the second book in the A Front Page Mystery series. This book can be read as a stand-alone book. I was thankful for that since I wouldn’t say I like picking books up mid-series. I would suggest reading the previous book, though. That way, you can get a handle on the different characters and their relationships. But if you don’t, that’s fine. The author gives a brief rundown of everything at the beginning of the book.
Murder Up to Bat is a fast-paced book set in a small town in Wisconsin. I can count on my hand how many books I have read that have taken place there. There are mentions of Chicago, but they stay only at that mentions.
The storyline for Murder Up to Bat was interesting. Emma’s friend, Luke, was a once-promising baseball player whose career ended with an injury. He decided to open a gym and help fund a softball team. After confronting the temperamental head coach, Luke is discovered standing over his body the following day, holding a bloody softball bat. Not believing he was guilty, Emma puts her investigative journalism skills to work. What she finds stuns her. Softball is a highly competitive sport; some parents will do anything to get the attention of a college agent. But would they murder for it? Or is there something else going on?
This book attracted me because the mystery plotline centered around high school softball and how competitive it can be. It bordered on unbelievable at times. My oldest daughter (17) played four years of softball—3 years in our local rec league, and she started softball back at our middle school when she was in 6th grade. During those years, I couldn’t believe how the parents and the coaches would act toward the kids. So, it was believable when the mystery was centered around the dead coach. And the deeper I got into the book, the more I could see this happening in real life. The author’s note at the end also had me nodding my head in agreement.
I will say that no matter what sport, you have people who are jerks – even in horseback riding (my youngest is learning to jump hunter style). One woman told me Miss R should be further along than she is. My response was kind but to the point. Miss R had a very traumatic event when she first started learning. It continues to affect her learning and her confidence. If she has any questions about how Miss R is doing, speak to Mrs. L (the trainer) or Mrs. A (the barn owner), and they will answer her concerns. She did, threw a fit (because her daughter was riding with someone “lesser”…sigh), and was told not to come back. As I said, every sport has that one jerk ( or entitled parent).
The characters in Murder up to Bat were well-written. I did feel a certain disconnect with Emma during the first couple of chapters, but once the mystery of the dead coach started, that went away. Not reading book one contributed to my feeling that way.
- Emma—As I said above, I did feel disconnected from Emma during the first couple of chapters. But I could see what a loyal friend she was. She and Grace were 100% certain that Luke did not kill the coach (even if the evidence said otherwise). I liked how protective she was of Luke. I also loved how she wasn’t afraid to go toe-toe with the detective in charge of the investigation. It was her determination and investigative skills that uncovered the murderer.
Murder Up to Bat fit perfectly into the cozy mystery genre. While I knew that Luke didn’t kill the coach, I was at a loss for who did. Then Emma started uncovering all these juicy details, and my suspect list grew. When the author revealed who did it, I was surprised. And the way it was revealed!!! Hoo-baby, it was good.
The storyline with Emma, her investigation, and the murder was terrific. While I was already familiar with how crazy softball parents are (see above), it was amusing to see the lengths some of these parents were willing to go to. The author took me on a ride with Emma’s investigation into the coach’s murder. There was a big twist in that storyline that I didn’t see coming. I loved it!!!
The end of Murder up to Bat was good. The author was able to wrap up the main storyline in a way that I loved. She also left it open for another story. I cannot wait to read another book in this series.
I would recommend Murder up to Bat to anyone over 16. It is a clean book with no sexual situations and very mild language. There is mild non-graphic violence.
I want to thank Maureen Lippert (publisher), NetGalley, and Elizabeth McKenna for allowing me to read and review Murder up to Bat. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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