Monday, August 22, 2022

Review of "Five O’clock Lightning," by William L. DeAndrea

 Review of

Five O’clock Lightning, by William L. DeAndrea

Five out of five stars

A murder story with much more

 This novel is set in the early nineteen fifties at the height of the red scare in the United States. It features steamy sex for profit, murder, New York Yankees baseball, self-serving politicians that wave the red menace at anything that will sit still long enough, racism, and careers destroyed from accusations of being pro-communist.

 Russ Garrett was once a top prospect in the New York Yankees farm system until he was drafted, sent to Korea and suffered severe leg wounds. While he can walk and even run, it is becoming clear that he will never return to a form that will get him back playing baseball. He is now working in the office of the Commissioner of baseball concentrating on veteran’s affairs. His deceased former girlfriend is the sister to the wife of a man whose career as a professor was destroyed by allegations that he was a communist.

 When a member of Congress that is prominent in the communist hysteria is killed in Yankee Stadium during a game, the hunt is on for the killer, and Garrett is part of the hunt. The murder is committed in full view of the reader, so there is never any doubt as to who did it. The main issues become how the killer managed to get away from the police and the relationships between the main characters. Yankee great Mickey Mantle is featured, and he is portrayed as he was in the early fifties, a young man from small town Oklahoma that is overwhelmed by life in New York City.

 There are many different threads weaved within this story, yet the underlying plot device is based on how the manufactured hysteria over the communist menace in the early fifties was a cancer on the body politic of the United States. The ability of self-serving politicians to create such events is a clear weakness of the American political system that is still in evidence today.

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