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Monday, January 19, 2009

"Forced Out" by Stephen Frey

Forced Out, a novel by Stephen Frey, is an adequate airplane book. The plot features a character named Jack Barrett. In his 60s, broke, in poor health, and losing a battle with scotch, Barrett lives in Florida with his daughter after he was 'forced out' of his job as a scout for the New York Yankees.

Barrett identifies a minor league player with big potential, and starts plotting a return to the Yankees via this kid. The kid, Mikey Clemant, is talented but inconsistent and isolated. Barrett must find out why Clemant is resisting the idea of moving up to the major leagues.

Meanwhile, back in New York, hit man Johnny Bondano is told by his Mafia boss to find and kill the man who drove a car over and killed the boss's grandson. Johnny fears that this assignment will violate his code of ethics, but what is an assassin to do? Ultimately, Bondano's assignment leads him to Florida and into Jack Barrett's life. To counter the feeling of inevitability which exists for much of the book, Frey produces a number of surprises at the end.

The problem with Forced Out is not that it is a bad book, but that there are so many other books available that are much better. Still, you could do worse and, if it is all you have, Forced Out is a fine way to pass the time.