Robert Reed Publishers
A Difficult Trade: The Baseball Mystery
A NOVEL by Sam Leonard
“This debut novel is a gripping blend of high-stakes sports and lethal mystery. With a plot taken right off Miami’s sports pages, the author, Sam Leonard spins a complex web of greed, arrogance, desperation and good detective work as the defending World Series champions, the National League’s Florida Sailfish, take some extreme measures to trim their lineup and cut salaries. The team owner, Harry Hvide, is a stand-up guy who earned billions hauling garbage and renting videos, but now he is saddled with an overpriced baseball team that loses money every year. To sell the team, Harry must get rid of Dick “Don’t Call Me Rictchie” Johnson, a home-run-hitting outfielder with a $66 million contract and a no-trade clause. Johnson is also a whining, prima donna with no loyalty or morals, and is enthusiastically hated by management, coaches, teammates and fans. Greg Barrett, an associate of Harry, comes up with a private plan to put Johnson on the disabled list permanently, but he is not the only one with a reason to want Johnson tagged out. Enter Stanley Starfish, a brilliant, tenacious detective who looks like a choirboy, which is why everyone foolishly underestimates him. However, no one’s plan works out as expected, and the twists and turns provide some delightful surprises. [Leonard] writes like a baseball insider, with intimate knowledge of team financing, trade and contract negotiations, player-management relations and the not-always-admirable personalities of the players. From the boardroom to the locker-room, and from Miami’s South Beach to Little Havana, this is a superb sports yarn with a line-drive pace and a colorful scorecard of pampered athletes and nervous executives. (Nov. 2000)
Forecast: [The author] has a good thing going here, with his double appeal to sports buffs and suspense novel aficionados. If the publisher and booksellers capitalize on the book’s dual market, it could slug a few home runs. Its appearance after the end of the baseball season will present a challenge, but will also make it a good sell to those looking for something in the field to fill the time until spring."
— Publisher’s Weekly, September 25, 2000.