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Publisher's Summary

It is 1947 when Joseph Burke, ex-Marine, ex-husband, ex-somebody–is hired as a bodyguard to protect Lauren Roach, 25 and spoiled rotten. The unlikely duo becomes entangled with Burke’s boyhood hero, color-barrier breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson, in a story that is both thrilling and engaging. It is in the historical character Jackie Robinson that Mr. Parker finds inspiration and Joseph Burke may find his redemption.
This is a work of fiction about a real man. Most of what I’ve written I’ve made up. I have, however, attempted to render Jackie Robinson accurately. As he was, or as I imagined him to be, in 1947, when I was turning 15, and he was changing the world. The rest is altogether fiction. It may be more Burke’s story then Jackie’s story. But, without Jackie, Burke would have had no story. And neither would I. Robert B Parker.
©2003 Robert B. Parker (P)2003, 2014 New Millennium Entertainment, Phoenix Books
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Critic Reviews

"This should be required reading for all aspiring storytellers....A masterful recreation of a turbulent era that's not only a great and gripping crime novel but also one of the most evocative baseball novels ever written." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Deeply felt and intimately told....Fusing this chapter of sports history with a hard-boiled gangster plot and haunting recollections of his own Boston boyhood, Parker fashions a hugely entertaining fiction..." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"A grand-slam combination of adventure, mystery, and sports, and an evocative but unsentimental memoir." ( Forbes)
"If you only read his Spenser novels, it's easy to forget how versatile Parker can be. This story...reminded me." (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Deborah on 08-25-06

The Narrator Makes the Difference

I read this book several years ago when I first began my "Robert Parker Phase." I'm a baseball fan, so I of course enjoyed the book but it wasn't really a WOW or "this is great book" kind of book.

Robert Forster's narration absolutely makes this book both wow and great. He catches the malaise of the character in just the right way. There is almost a delayed reaction in the reading, just as if Burke was too tired and too unattached to answer. Parker's books are 99% dialogue, with a lot of he saids and she saids. You don't even notice them because the narrator does such a fine job of dropping his voice down after he says the meat of the sentence, and often even attaches emotions to the he saids and she saids.

I grew up in Mississippi before civil rights. It was very painful to hear some of the language spoken because my father talked like that as a matter of course. He was born in Selma, Alabama in 1918 and I like to think he didn't know any better, but that's no excuse. I cannot imagine the confidence and security Robinson must have possessed to put himself through what this books hints at what he must have experienced.

This book is not even five hours, and it was over way too quick. I plan to listen to it many times.

This is a character study of two very different people, but both with an honor that can't be disputed.

Five stars, yes, five.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 07-02-12

engrossing tale of a different era in sports

Robert Parker's Spenser novels have been a favorite of mine, as have the narrators, particularly Joe Mantegna, who manages to convey the humor of the hero as well as his strength and heart. Robert Forster does a fine job here, but Burke, the hero of this tale is a damaged human being, physically and emotionally, and there is little warmth and infrequent humor to be found in Parker's habitual terse prose. Once in a while you become aware that the short sentences and Forster's matter-of-fact delivery - perfectly rendered and appropriate - becomes almost comical, like a send-up of the style. The violence described is a bit more intense than I'd expected, and Burke's relationships with women are, from a woman's point of view, equally intense, terse, and a bit incomprehensible. But there is a very sort of film noir atmosphere throughout, making it a compelling listen, and Burke's (fictional) growing relationship with Jackie Robinson, who comes out of the story as a truly remarkable hero, is great stuff, and there is a lot of fine historical and baseball procedural detail that makes this an informative listen as well as an entertaining one.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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