It seems that there is a lot of literature about baseball besides biographies and nonfiction that I never really looked into. I must say that Mr. Soos kept me interested in what is his seventh outing with his literary hero "Mickey Rawlings."
Mickey Rawlings is a portrait of the "Aw Shucks Kid." You know the kind. Best example is Charlie Brown. Rawlings resembles Charlie Brown with his baseball record: the down and out utility player that gets traded from team to team because he bats .260 and has been around awhile that his age of 31 seems ancient in the 1920's for baseball. And for the most part, that's the way it was back in the roaring twenties. But for Mickey, he does not want to be a journeyman anymore. He likes to be back in New York (previously played with the Giants) and wants to settle down for good. One thing I can say: is that there is nothing pretentious about Mickey. I like him. All he wants to do is play baseball which is his true passion besides furthering his relationship with his actress-girlfriend Margie.
Also, it seems, Mickey has a penchant for solving mysteries..and murder. One of the key facts is that Mickey is so overlooked by teams and managers and players that no one realizes his knack for sleuthing. He is not a true sleuth like Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan. He is the reluctant sleuth who does not want to get involved. He is the anti hero, as he sees no heroism in what he is doing. You might say Mickey is a 1920's kind of Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, all who were reluctant heroes in such movies as "Serpico (with Pacino)," "The Marathon Man (with Hoffman)," and "Taxi Driver (with DeNiro)." These three films showcase a hero who does not want to be a hero but is compelled to be a hero by circumstances beyond their control. In Mickey's case, it is like either investigate this case and consider it job security (more like blackmail if you ask me) or get cut from the Yankees for insubordination.
Blackmail or not, Mickey likes his status as the newly traded utility infielder of this great 1923 Yankees team, with Babe Ruth leading the charge to the Pennant and the World Series. As for the Yankees...they do have problems: Big ones. Mr. Soos does mention the Yankee front office and their concern on the bottom line and almighty dollar that the newly built Yankee Stadium is going to bring to the organization. Problem is; they built too big of a stadium like no other and can't seem to fill it with every home game played. So attendance is way down from what was predicted by the financial gurus who advised on the return on investment for this massive baseball structure. To make matters worse, a body has been found dumped behind a wall in a concession stand area and no one knows who, why, what, where, or how it got there. In turn, management is having heart palpatations about that the negative publicity the dead body will bring if word gets out about a murder at the new Yankee Stadium. It will just be another reason that will keep patrons away. Even the cops and detectives are stumped on this investigation. Alas, the premise of the story emerges; the dead body was a teammate of Mickey Rawlings back on the 1918 Chicago Cubs. And so the eyes of the Yankees' Organization, the police, and the underworld of gangsters turn to Mickey Rawlings.
I like how Mr. Soos weaves history into the story. The Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, Hollywood and famous people come alive as characters in this story. Mickey's own girlfriend was a silent screen star until she got injured. Movie Producer, Cecil B. DeMille is mentioned as one of Mickey's girlfriend's old studio acquaintances. In fact, another Director, who is Marge's acquaintance is trying to get our hero, Rawlings, to get his famous roommate on the Yankees (Babe Ruth) to do a film for the studio. Talk about your plate being filled.
There is the ever popular, Jimmy Durante, with his voice and how he makes the rounds at night clubs building his legacy as the quintessential jazz band for the speak easy's and booze. There are also the stories of the day in 1923 such as President Warren Harding and his love of baseball and he appears in the story at the Washington Senators home game against the Yankees, when the team visits Washington D.C. But most of all, there is the Babe. Larger than life and (as previously mentioned) also Mickey's roommate. Mickey does pal with the Babe and even visits his house in Sudbury, Massachusetts after a game. The Babe is portrayed as he is known to all of us: drinker, eater, womanizer and the little boy in all of us. The guy just is compelled to commit some sense of mischief to get in trouble with Manager, Miller Huggins, and the Yankees establishment. Except he knows the rules like curfew at night does not pertain to him. Why should it??? He is the man everyone goes to see hit the ball out of the park and is the Yankees' cash cow. Noone is gonna fire the Babe because of his value to the team or rather baseball itself.
Mr. Soos also puts the famous Hollywood movies of the day into the story to lend a hand on what the time period was about. For example, the movie Safety Last (with the famous silent comedian actor, Harold Lloyd) has just being released into theatres. Upon doing a fact check, Mr. Soos knows his history of the day, as indeed the film was released in 1923. And who can forget the clock scene, which is probably the most recognizeable image of the silent movies era.
Throughout this book, Mr. Soos puts you right into the heart of the time period: the Roaring Twenties: America is dancing to jazz, and gangsters are selling bootleg liquor. His descriptions of old New York and Boston paints enough of a picture for the reader to close their eyes and be part of the 1920's.
If you like a good historical mystery woven with baseball you are going to love this book. It moves fast and the writing is very clear and enjoyable. Nothing beats good writing to keep the reader entertained. This is what "The Tomb That Ruth Built" does: it keeps you entertained. I highly recommend reading "The Tomb That Ruth Built." One cannot help identifying with the title character, Mickey Rawlings as he makes his way in the world of baseball and danger in a time period that is a big cultural change in American History: The Roaring Twenties.
If you like this book, here is Mr. Soos' catalog of his books that he has authored:
Book Series : Mickey Rawlings
- Baseball mysteries
# 6 Hanging Curve (©1999)
# 5 The Cincinnati Red Stalkings (©1998)
# 4 Hunting a Detroit Tiger (©1997)
# 3 Murder at Wrigley Field (©1996)
# 2 Murder at Ebbets Field (©1995)
# 1 Murder at Fenway Park (©1994)
Book Series : Rebecca Davies and Marshall Webb
- Historical - late 1800s / She's a rich woman who finances and runs a home for desperate women / He's a freelance reporter for Harper's Weekly and book author.
#4 Streets of Fire (©2008) 384 pp.
# 3 Burning Bridges (©2004) 320 pp.
# 2 The Gilded Cage (©2002) 384 pp.
# 1 Island of Tears (©2001) 384 pp.
Bibliography - Non-Fiction Books by Troy Soos
#1 Before the Curve: The Glory Days of New England Baseball, 1858-1918 (©1997)