A Baseball Book That’s Not About Baseball – ‘Mortal Stakes’


Mortal Stakes is the third Spenser novel written by Robert B. Parker.  It was originally published in 1975.  Recurring character Patricia Utley makes her first appearance in this book.

Preceded By: God Save the Child
Followed By: Promised Land


Spenser is back at it and has been hired by the Boston Red Sox to determine if their best pitcher (Marty Rabb) is throwing games… throwing them to the mob.  Along the way (as he’s prone to do) Spenser pulls one thread and gets himself involved in a plot that is more than meets the eye.  Spenser quickly learns that Marty is being blackmailed due to some of his wife’s (Linda) past transgressions.  It turns out that before becoming the prim and proper baseball wife that she is currently, Linda did some time in Boston as a high-class prostitute doing some “video” work.


As with most of the Spenser novels I really enjoyed this one.  It’s always weird to me when Parker deals with anything that you can put a specific time period to.  In this case it’s baseball and the Boston Red Sox.  That said, it really doesn’t get in the way as long as you’re thinking of the Sox as a fictitious team rather than the “real” 1975 Boston Red Sox.  We get to see some more of the “Code” that Spenser often refers to when he deal with Marty later on in the book.  In many ways Spenser is an athlete playing a game.

It’s always interesting to me to see Spenser not “with” Susan and this is essentially the end of them being “single”.  I suppose I’d put this one in the “pretty good” category but when it comes to the Spenser universe there’s nothing Earth shattering here.  What it does do is really start to show off Spenser’s sense of “morals” and why he does what he does.  His solution to Linda Rabb’s problem is one that I’m not sure many of us could fathom but for Spenser it’s the only way to bring things to a conclusion. Pick up a copy of Mortal Stakes on Amazon today!

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