From the author of North of Montana ("The writing has the taut, perfect tone of a well-tuned string"--Scott Turow), a spellbinding new thriller about ambition taken to unexpected, and deadly, extremes.
Cassidy Sanderson is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers--the only female scout in the major leagues. Hard-living and hard-drinking, a gifted athlete herself, she takes pride in successfully competing in a male world. But recently she has been losing prospects on the sign, and her job security is teetering on the edge. When she gets a tip from a close friend and fellow scout about Alberto Cruz, a young phenom in the Dominican Republic, she impulsively catches a flight to Santo Domingo--even though it is out of her territory and she will undoubtedly incur her boss's wrath. If Alberto Cruz is as good as she's been told, the trip will be worth the risk.
The risk starts quickly. Not only has Cruz "got it all--the heart, the guts, the aptitude," he may also have "a bad spirit on him." And he's not the only man Cassidy meets on the island who might change her life for good or ill. The other is Joe Galinis, a powerful financier and real estate developer, "one of the most provocative men she has ever met." When Cassidy returns to Los Angeles, she finds herself entangled in a blackmail scheme laced with otherworldly vodou and real-life violence: a tightening triangle of suspicion and deception that leads her to the back rooms (and backstabbing) of high-stakes sports and finance--where she is about to discover that there is a thin line between a competitor and a killer.
Once again, April Smith gives us a novel of nonstop suspense--large in scope, emotionally rich, and built around a central character of striking originality and substance. It is an electrifying read.
Cassidy Sanderson, the 35-year-old heroine of Smith's (North of Montana) tough, smart novel, is a baseball scout for the L.A. DodgersDthe only woman scout in the major leagues in 1994. On a hot tip from her godfather, Pedro, a "successful bird-dog scout, " she goes to the Dominican Republic in pursuit of a young center fielder named Alberto Cruz. During this unauthorized trip, she meets Joe Galinis, a downtown-L.A. developer to whom she is immediately drawn. She and Joe, along with Alberto, drive drunk into a hurricane, and a confusing accident in the violent murky weather (related in interspersed flashbacks) yields misfortune that follows them back to Los Angeles. As Cassidy gets Alberto into training in California, the action, somewhat sluggish at the outset, quickens: Alberto and Joe receive anonymous blackmail notes, and Cassidy runs into danger on a trip to view spring training in Vero Beach, Fla. The Dodgers and the L.A. and Vero Beach police departments get involved, which stands to jeopardize the careers of Alberto, Joe and CassidyDas well as the romance developing between the latter two. To Cassidy, baseball is more than business: formerly a pro softball player, she has always been a pioneer; in addition, she's living out the expectations of her beloved, deceased brother. Befriended in Vero Beach by detective Nate Allen, who later ends up in L.A. on official business, she faces a host of difficult decisions. Smith's characters are hard to empathize withDCassidy, in particular, keeps her game face so assiduously that the reader only sometimes glimpses her vulnerabilitiesDand a major leap in determining the blackmailer's motive isn't confirmed until the end, which threatens the story's plausibility. While the writing is generally firm and judicious, Smith's prose sometimes swerves into the overly ornate. But this ambitious novel, much to its credit, does venture beyond these ambivalences to provocatively rephrase the perennial tale of a woman in a man's world. 75,000 first printing.