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Prairie Hardball: A Kate Henry Mystery

by Alison Gordon

Alison Gordon, who once covered the Blue Jays for The Toronto Star, has faced the problem of finding a new way to say the same old thing before. Given that major league teams play a 162-game season, baseball writers find new twists or get a new beat. Gordon will need to draw on that experience as she gets deeper into her series of baseball mysteries. While her star sleuth – Kate Henry, the Toronto baseball reporter – is an engaging creation, and the combination of the summer game and murder is a winning one, the potential to run out of fresh stories is great.

The fourth Kate Henry mystery took place during a baseball strike. In the fifth, Prairie Hardball, Henry is on vacation. She has taken her boyfriend, Inspector Andy Munro of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department, back to Saskatchewan to visit her parents and see her mother inducted into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame. The former Helen “Wheels” MacLaren, Henry’s mom, was one of more than 50 Canadian women to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the circuit made famous in the movie A League of Their Own.

Although the women to be inducted received notes warning them to stay away, they convene in Battleford, home of the Hall, and get reacquainted. This gives Gordon a chance to serve up some of the colourful history of “girls’” baseball in the 1940s and early 1950s. When the inevitable murder happens, Munro helps the Mounties from the local detachment investigate. But, of course, it’s Henry who solves the crime (and learns some startling things about her mother in the process).

It’s all good fun, complete with prairie charm and the good-natured humour inevitable when big-city folks – Henry and Munro – find themselves in small-town Saskatchewan (where the supper dishes are cleaned, dried, and put away by 6 o’clock). Perhaps Prairie Hardball is just an entertaining detour that allows for some intriguing character development, and Gordon’s next book will see Kate Henry back on her beat covering the Toronto Titans. Or maybe Gordon has found a way to mix baseball and murder without returning to the major leagues. I wonder if Kate Henry has ever wanted to visit Japan.


Reviewer: Tim Falconer

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart


Price: $26.99

Page Count: 240 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-7710-3412-1

Released: Apr.

Issue Date: 1997-5

Categories: Fiction: Novels