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Literature: The Reliever

San Jose's very own Guy Noir—a setup man named Johnny Adcock.

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HARDBOILED HARDBALL: T.T. Monday (right), a.k.a. SJSU professor Nick Taylor, has penned his second novel about the fictional pitcher and private eye Johnny Adcock.

What would happen if San Jose's Major League Baseball team included a divorced, aging reliever who moonlighted as a private eye and lived in a high-rise condo downtown? So far, two crime novels present just such a scenario. In 2014, local author T.T. Monday published The Setup Man, which became the first of a new series. The second novel, Double Switch, comes out March 1. Both books feature pitcher Johnny Adcock, whose side job keeps him busy.

Author T.T. Monday—the pseudonym of SJSU professor Nick Taylor—says the idea of a ballplayer moonlighting as a private eye came to him while he was on a Fulbright residency in India for a year. The Giants had just won the 2010 World Series and Monday was entrenched in his research work, as well as cricket, India's most popular sport, when he began to reflect and compare.

"When you're abroad, sometimes it makes you think more critically about where you're from, and the things that you're into, back home," Monday says. "And that led me to thinking, 'Well, I'd like to write an existential detective novel. But what kind of detective would he be?'"

In the books, pitcher Johnny Adcock isn't a marquee player. He's a setup man—a middle reliever brought in to strike-out a couple hitters or force a ground out before hitting the showers himself. Similarly, as a private eye, he's not a world-beater either. He's a "fixer" like Travis McGee in the John D. MacDonald books.

When it comes to baseball, Adcock realizes that ludicrous ballplayer salaries tend to attract blackmailers and other predators who prey on the egos of the athletes. When these players, their coaches, agents, or even their wives, have "issues" that can't be made public, they call Adcock. He's just a regular old guy, virtuous but frugal, trying to eke it out for San Jose's baseball franchise and a few side jobs.

"I don't think I'd be interested in writing this series if he were like Clayton Kershaw, or somebody similar," Monday says. "He's just a journeyman reliever."

'Double Switch' Book Launch
March 01, 7:30pm
Kepler's Books
Reading and Book Signing
March 9, 7pm
Books Inc., Mountain View