Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper

The news is constantly filled with stories of the disagreements between professional athletes and the franchises or leagues that they play for. In Three Strikes and You're Dead by Michael A. Draper baseball players and their teams can't agree on contracts. The players want more money and the teams want to pay them less. While the millionaire players battle it out for even more compensation, the fans are left to suffer the consequences of their discontent. Higher salaries result in higher ticket prices that ultimately leave the average American unable to attend a game without spending hundreds of dollars. Even worse, with no end to the negotiations in sight, the league is forced to suspend the start of the season.

One disgruntled fan, who identifies as "The Vindicator" in baseball chat rooms, decides to take matters into his own hands. The world is shocked to learn of the mysterious death of on of baseball's biggest stars in his San Antonio hotel room. When the death is revealed to be in direct response to the unrest that currently plagues the sport, league officials and various law enforcement agencies vow to put a quick end to this vigilante violence. But the San Antonio murder is only the beginning for The Vindicator. As the strike continues, he continues to take the lives of the superstars of baseball, leading to mass panic and terror.

With terror reigning and no end in sight, league officials seek the help of an unlikely source. Roseanne, Randy and Graham are relatively new to the crime fighting game. When Roseanne's husband was murdered a year ago, the trio hunted down the killer and uncovered a string of corruption in the professional basketball league. With that success, the three have decided to try their hands at more investigations. Under the guidance of seasoned detective Pete, and at the unwavering persistence of the feisty Roseanne,  the amateur sleuths convince the league to hire them as private investigators on the baseball case. But they face an adversary more dangerous than a man driven by greed or corruption. . . a fan who has turned from loyal observer to obsessed psychopath.

Michael A. Draper takes a premise ripped directly from the headlines and weaves it into a satisfying thriller. Draper is an avid reader whose admiration and knowledge of the mystery/thriller genre shines through in his own writing. He wastes no time setting up the intriguing plot and writes with a sharp and direct prose that allows for the quick pace that this thriller needs. While the action and pace are great, it is the characters that truly engage the imagination of the reader. It is impossible to not root for the trio of underdog detectives as they face the truly terrifying adversary "The Vindicator". Roseanne, in particular, is the kind of strong willed, smart, and sensitive female character that is usually absent in novels of this genre. The strong characters, dialogue, and overall quality in writing do enough to make up for the somewhat disappointing ending. After a fantastic buildup that perfectly paces the twists and turns, the novel wraps up all of the loose ends just a bit too quick and neatly for my taste. Still, Three Strikes and You're Dead is a fun thriller that is definitely worth a read.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

(2015, 10)

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