Thursday, February 25, 2010





Recently the EURO CRIME blog featured a POST ON SOCCER (or football as it is referred to in Europe) mysteries. This was not supposed to be an all inclusive post, but since I have a collection of soccer mysteries, I immediately noticed a few notable omissions.

Marked Man was the first of a series of three soccer mysteries by Mel Stein. In his everyday life, Stein is a solicitor specializing in sports law, but he is best known as the personal manager for English soccer superstars Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle.

Stein’s series features disgraced soccer star turned private investigator Mark Rossetti, and the novels were filled with insider knowledge of how soccer teams operate and the behind the scenes dramas.


To the world of football [soccer], Mark Rossetti is a dead man. Ten years ago, on the verge of an international career, he was banned from the game for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, as he struggles to make a living as a private investigator, he’s just a distant shadow in the memories of Hertsmere United’s more nostalgic fans.

Most are far more concerned with Rossetti’s old club’s current dramas, and with its star player, the mercurial, magical Mickey Wayne. Especially since Hertsmere United – only recently rocketed into the league, more recently still in the top half of the Premiership – have a miraculous chance of FA [Football Association] cup [trophy] glory.

For United’s beleaguered chairman, David Sinclair, Wayne is the difference between survival and disaster. Despite its fooballing success, Hertsmere is financially on the ropes, hampered by its dilapidated ground with its small [seating] capacity.

Sinclair’s bankers are demanding he sells Wayne, something his bred-in-the-bone love of the game tells him not to do. Meanwhile, the sharks are closing in on Sinclair, including Chris Handsel, a brutal but popular former player determined to get his hands on his old club. If Sinclair can only hang on to the unpredictable Wayne until Hertsmere can win through to the FA cup final, and if Wayne can help them win, Sinclair might have a chance.

But then, days before the semi, Mickey Wayne vanishes. At last it seems as if Mark Rossetti might have found a role to play in the game that, despite the treatment its dished out to him, is still his life. If only he can find Mickey Wayne . . .

Written with the authority of an author who knows the game from the inside, marked man is both a page-turning thriller and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the business that is football.

Marked Man and the other Mark Rossetti soccer/football thrillers are nowhere near as accomplished as Dick Francis’ racing thriller, but what sports thrillers are up to that standard – few if any. On the other hand, author Stien does right by making soccer integral to the plot and not just a background against which to play out a compelety unrelated story – my biggest bugaboo when it comes to sports mysteries.



1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, Dick Francis was the only crime writer to use sports that I ever read. Except of course, the gambler on sports.