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HALLWAYS IN THE NIGHT by R. C. O’Leary: Book Review

It’s 3:05 a.m., and Atlanta police detective Dave Mackno is anxious for his shift to end.  He’s been watching a house outside Wilson Field, home of the major league Atlanta Barons.  There have been no lights or movement in the house for hours, and Dave is just about to pop his second beer, preparing to drive home in the muggy heat, when a Porsche goes speeding by, doing at least 80 m.p.h.

Because he’s driving his wife’s car, rather than a police cruiser, Dave knows there’s no way to catch up to the Porsche.  To his surprise, however, the sports car doesn’t continue but stops suddenly at the fence outside the baseball field.  This gives Dave his opportunity, and he walks towards the car, intent on forcing the driver out.

When Dave gets close enough to see the car’s license plate, he’s stunned; it’s BIG STK 44.  The Porsche belongs to Remo Centrella, the home run star of the Barons, voted the league’s Most Valuable Player three times 

It appears that Remo’s celebrity has gone to his head, because he refuses Dave’s repeated order to leave his car.  When Remo finally gets out, he infuriates Dave by offering him bribes–first baseball tickets, then money.  It’s obvious to Dave that the ballplayer is high.  When Dave attempts to handcuff him, Remo, fueled by steroids, jumps on him.  It’s a desperate fight that ends with Remo dead and Dave hospitalized with serious injuries.

At first the shooting seems like a clear case of self-defense, but there are influential men who have other ideas.  One is Ray Manning, owner of the Barons.  Although the team was heavily insured against the loss of its home run hitter, Ray is furious to find out that a “felony clause” will invalidate the insurance.  If Remo was trying to kill Dave, his intention to commit a felony would allow the insurance company to pay nothing.  And Ray badly needs that money.

The two other influential men are Georgia’s governor, Frank Durkin, and Atlanta’s district attorney, Maurice Bass.  With a combination of alleged worry about what the killing of a biracial man by a white policeman would do to the city’s image and a huge serving of political self-interest, Frank and Maurice decide that a charge of murder should be brought against Dave.

R. C. O’Leary’s thriller goes back and forth through the years, following Dave’s career.  Combining baseball, racial tensions, backroom politics, and greed, the novel portrays a less-than-ideal picture of people in power and their desire to hang onto that power by any means necessary.  The compelling courtroom scenes and those that follow don’t show the characters in black and white but in shades of gray, similar to real life.  Mr. O’Leary has written about a culture where even the heroes are less than heroic.

You can read more about R. C. O’Leary at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.