There's some pretty tedious golf-related fiction out there. And there's some alleged golf history that takes such wild artistic license (e.g., The Greatest Game Ever by Mark Frost) that it's borderline fiction. Neither is appealing, but one genre that links golf and fiction well is murder mystery. Golf as who-dunnit as opposed to golf as how-ta-doit. Excellent examples are the works of Peter Jamesson, whose British sleuth is the compelling star of the Byram St. George series we profiled last year.
A worthy American counterpart to St. George is one Pete Hacker, the former champion golfer and now golf beat writer for the fictional newspaper The Boston Journal. He's the creation of James Y. Bartlett, and he's blessed with a feisty cynicism, a critical eye, and a sharp wit that makes him thoroughly enjoyable. Such a character is ideal for the first-person narrative used by Bartlett to reveal that Hacker doesn't suffer fools gladly. And Hacker has a nose for a good story, digging into the seedy side of professional golf and confronting a host of suspicious and well-crafted characters.
Fortunately, Yeoman House is re-issuing all three Pete Hacker mysteries in paperback, including "Death at the Member-Guest," the first new Hacker novel in 10 years. Other books in the series include "Death is a Two-Stroke Penalty" and "Death from the Ladies Tee," both of which were originally issued in hard cover by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books.
Death is a Two-Stroke Penalty - Originally published in 1991, the first book in the series sees former Tour player and sportswriter Pete Hacker urged to investigate the murder of John Turnbull, who is found pinned beneath a golf cart. Hacker decides to get involved after being urged to do so by the dead man's beautiful widow. The hunt for the killer intensifies as the big-money tournament reaches its exciting conclusion.
Death from the Ladies' Tee - Written the following year, Hacker finds himself in Miami looking to hit the beach but finds himself solving a mystery that's set against the background of an LPGA event. He's no fan of Wynonna Stilwell, the LPGA president whose business practices prove to be as odious as the woman herself. One of her staff is beaten. Then the Tour commissioner is discovered dead. Suicide? Hacker must work quickly before he becomes a target as well.
Death at the Member-Guest - The erstwhile Hacker finds himself at the tony Shuttlecock Club near Boston. The club's eccentric and heavy-handed president is found murdered during the tournament, and Hacker enlists the help of his friend Jack Connelly to unravel the mystery. As it happens, Hacker must sift through the clues and find the killer before the Mob comes looking for him.
Hacker is back. Celebrate, and discover why this mystery series has received such entirely appropriate acclaim as "Passages fall with the sweet sound of the ball rattling in the cup," from the Chicago Tribune.
Caity Crowley has spent many years reviewing books for newspapers and magazines across America. Caity welcomes your thoughts and suggestions, so contact her by e-mail: CaityCrowley @ OnCourseLiving.com.