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Hardball [Paperback]

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Item description for Hardball by Barbara D'Amato...

A bomb explodes, taking the life of Louise Sugarman and injuring reporter Cat Marsala. As a controversial advocate for the decriminalization of drugs and for treating addiction as a medical problem, Sugarman has many enemies. Outraged by the attack, Cat resolves to find the killer. The investigation forces Cat to confront the issue and the people on both sides of the debate. This Mystery Company edition restores to print the 1990 novel that marked the debut of the Cat Marsala series.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.54" Width: 5.06" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.53 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Mystery Company
ISBN  1932325018  
ISBN13  9781932325010  

Availability  0 units.

More About Barbara D'Amato

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Barbara D'Amato is a playwright, novelist, and crime researcher. Winner of the 1998 Carl Sandburg Award for Excellence in Fiction and of the Anthony and Agatha Awards, she is a past president of the Mystery Writers of America and of Sisters in Crime International. "Hard Road" is her ninth Cat Marsala crime novel. Other recent titles include "Hard Evidence" and "Hard Bargain." She is also the author of the Suze Figueroa/Norm Bennis series, most recently "Help Me, Please." She lives in Chicago. Her Web site is

Barbara D'Amato currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Authors, A-Z > ( D ) > D'Amato, Barbara
3Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Women Sleuths

Reviews - What do customers think about Hardball?

A mystery with intelligence.  Mar 14, 2006
In Harball, we meet D'Amato's freelance journalist, Cat Marsala. Even though this was written in the early 90s, the issues contained within are still quite timely: how's the drug war going?

Contrary to what a previous reviewer said, there is no 'political agenda' here. Both sides are discussed in a balanced manner, and never overwhelm the reader. D'Amato's characters intelligently explore each side, and I never felt once overwhelmed by one particular argument.

There are times when an author's 'politics' clearly show, but this is not the case in Hardball. I found the fictional debates in this novel to be fascinating and thought-provoking.

Anyway, the mystery is not about who can better argue their position about drugs, although a great deal of debate arises; but rather, who has the best motive for killing pro-drug law repeal activist, Louise Sugarman.

Killed in a bomb that was surgical in its precision, Sugarman was the face of the pro-repeal movement. With her grandmotherly appearance and no-nonsense approach to the drug problem, some folks despised her for propsing a relaxing of present drug laws as opposed a tightening of them.

Cat, our dogged heroine, was seated next to Sugarman when the small bomb blew, sending her to hospital with concussion and a slight case of retrograde amnesia.

Mad as ever that someone would kill Sugarman, (Sugarman had just granted Cat an appointment for a future interview) Cat resolves to get to the bottom of the murder.

Quickly, she comes to realise that the drug problem is an extremely complex one, and that there is no shortage of suspects, even though she does her best to pare down the list.

Hardball is full of memorable characters, like her cop buddy Harold McCoo, who returns in subsequent novels in the series; on and off significant others, (Mike, the hard drinker, and John, the straitlaced stockbroker); and individuals from both sides of the drug law repeal debate.

Cat fully realises that the person or persons responsible for Sugarman's death are probably those who would stand to gain the most, or perhaps lose the most should drug laws be repealed...

If you like your heroines and plotlines to be more on the intelligent side, give Hardball a read.
Skip this one...  Nov 29, 2002
Reporter Cat Marsala investigates the death of drug legalization activist, Louise Sugarman. Along the way, she learns a lot about the movement to legalize drugs and is forced to examine many of her own prejudices.

I actually happen to agree with a lot of the points Marsala makes in the book. It's just that I also happen to resent being force-fed political agenda when I think that I'm going to be reading a mystery. The whole story gets lost behind all the expounding that goes on. D'Amato takes the opportunity to bring out all the arguments for and against drug legalization and does so with very thinly veiled plot tricks (the different candidates for taking over Sugarman's role have to give sample speeches to explain why they are pro-legalization). Add to that a main character who while occasionally interesting is undeveloped (her reactions to the police are spurious, as is her decision to investigate) and you get a book worth skipping.

Hopefully with her other books, D'Amato focused more on the mystery and less on pounding the reader over the head with political debate.


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