The Gamekeepers by J. B. Manheim (Book Review)
by Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.
Last autumn I read This Never Happened: The Mystery Behind the Death of Christy Mathewson by J. B. Manheim and loved it.
I just finished reading the second book in this trilogy, The Gamekeepers, and enjoyed it just as much. The book was an enjoyable and fun read.
J.B. Manheim tells a complex tale in The Gamekeepers that picks up where This Never Happened leaves off. But, quite brilliantly, this book can stand alone as its own story as the characters and events of the first book are referenced in just enough detail to carry the reader along without taking away from this story.
This story, one full of intrigue, interest, mystery, and fun, tells the story of a secret group of men who carefully safeguard baseball's darkest secrets. They do this by maintaining a hidden vault in a secret location to house materials that would be detrimental to the history of baseball if ever made public. In other words, these are the papers behind baseball's deepest secrets. The "Gamekeepers" do this to protect the integrity of the game.
I could share much about the story, but I am afraid that in writing a review that I would be disclosing too much. Suffice it to say that this novel shares how that secret society was formed, how they maintain their archive, and how, quite separately, through some of their own investigating a landscaper, a writer, a senator, and the Commissioner of Baseball (among others) all get drawn into the same arena.
What I enjoy about J.B. Manheim's writing style is that while he transitions from scene to scene, he has a unique way of keeping the reader engaged. There are many characters in the book, all fictitious, but they never get confused because of the way in which Manheim ties the story together. Just when I would start to wonder about a character ("Now who was he?"), Manheim would give a quick little fact or glimpse into that character to make the me exactly aware of who he is. This is all so well put together that the story, told over more than 100 years, and with various casts of characters, just all flows together seamlessly.
I highly recommend this book. It's a quick read - light enough to be fun, but deep enough to make the reader think deeply about the characters, the plot, and the twists. The book is a complete work of fiction, but it feels real enough (just like the first book) to ring true.
I now look forward to reading the final book of the trilogy!