LAST OF THE SEALS
By: Greg Messel
Published: April 23, 2012
This is a featured guest review by my husband, Pat. After seeing the book in my stash, he thought the book sounded interesting and so I offered the review to him.
Mystery, romance and baseball in 1957 San Francisco. Sam Slater is a lifetime minor league baseball player for the San Francisco Seals. The Seals have just one more season left as San Francisco is about to become a major league city. Sam has come to the end of his baseball career and is going to join the private detective agency of his best friend. When Sam's partner inadvertently sees something he shouldn't have, he is brutally murdered. Sam must go it alone to find out why. Along the way he is swept off of his feet by a beautiful, Elvis-obsessed, TWA stewardess named Amelia Ryan. Sam and Amelia try to unravel the mystery together. On dark and foggy San Francisco nights, trouble is lurking just around the next corner.
When my wife asked me if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing this book, it didn't take much for me to say 'yes' - even though I'm not usually much of a reader of fiction books.
Last of the Seals tells the story of Sam Slater, who is finishing his last days as a veteran minor league pitcher in 1957 for the San Francisco Seals - a team beloved by the city - but is being scuttled to make way for the Major League's Giants, who are moving in from New York next season.
Sam is forced to begin his detective work early when his best friend, and future partner is killed delivering incriminating photos to a client. During this time, Sam meets (and courts) the beautiful Amelia, a stewardess who welcomes Sam's advances. These two - separated only by Amelia's weekly flight schedule - together begin to search for the killer. Along the way, they are both put in dangerous situations and they're led to solve another murder where their efforts put them on a trail that even the police couldn't find.
One of the author's best qualities is the way he weaves historical facts with his own fictional accounts. His time growing up in the San Francisco area also gives him the opportunity to share with the reader a great deal of local history, local geography and a sense for the unusual weather that is unique to the area. In this regard, he doesn't disappoint.
The book is an easy read with fairly short chapters, which makes it easy to pick up and read - even for a just few pages at a time.
One of the strengths of the book is the relatively few main characters, and the author does a great job of giving the reader a great idea who Sam Slater really is - from his time in WWII, up to the present time in 1957. He also gives you a glimpse of life in 1957. Most notable to me was the glamorous life of the stewardess (and the high physical standards required to make the cut for the job), and the prevalence of smoking - even among the athletes.
Where I think the author let me down was that I didn't get to see the relationship of Sam and Amelia fully develop. Perhaps this is coming later in the trilogy, but the passion these two had for each other created an interest to see when they would finally succumb to their strong desires, or maybe this was of a more subtle example of life in the 1950s. Another situation that wasn't fully explored was the strange behavior of Mrs. Ted Steele toward Amelia. Either way, these questions certainly make me want to read Deadly Plunge, due out in 2013 to hopefully find some answers.
photo courtesy of http:// http://expiationbook.wordpress.com/bio/
Greg Messell has spent most of his life living in the Pacific Northwest. He has been married to Carol for over 40 years and has 3 children and 10 grandchildren. Greg has always loved writing and spent many years working in the newspaper business. LAST OF THE SEALS is his fourth novel and the first of a mystery trilogy set in San Francisco in the 1950's. The second installment of the trilogy and his fifth novel is DEADLY PLUNGE and will be published in 2013. For more on Greg Messel and his other books, check out http://expiationbook.wordpress.com/.
Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for sending a copy of this book for review. Neither my husband or I were compensated in any other way for this review. This review is my husband's honest opinion.