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Article updated: 2/18/2013 10:49 AM

Local Author's Debut Mystery Published by Attica Books

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By G. W. Kennedy

Curveball, a mystery novel written by Arlington Heights author G. W. Kennedy, was recently published by Attica Books of Oxford, England. The narrator, Ben Barklee, is a college professor and expert on Charles Dickens . . . as well as a former pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. Barklee's quiet academic life is interrupted by the high-profile kidnapping of Jane Macalester, one of his "Dropout U." students and the rebellious daughter of a U.S. Senator. When Jane drops a Dickensian hint, Barklee manages to rescue her, becoming an accidental hero and launching his new career as a private investigator. Jane disappears again, and Barklee discovers he's the target of a murderous, vengeance-seeking gangster. It will take all of Barklee's skills, including his pitching ability, to save his own skin and the wayward student he has befriended.

Kennedy notes, "I've always loved mystery novels strongly connected to a particular place: Sherlock Holmes' London, Philip Marlowe's LA. Of course, Chicago is a classic setting for all kinds of fiction, including great mysteries." True to form, Curveball takes the reader all around the area, from a tranquil North Shore campus to the wild trading floor of a commodities exchange, a crowded el train (with a killer in the next car), and the bleachers of Wrigley Field.

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The publisher of the book, which is available on Amazon in print and e-book formats, is Attica Books in the United Kingdom. It's unusual to place a Chicago-based novel containing a number of baseball references with a British publisher. As Kennedy recalls, "The situation provided a lot of opportunities to explore the common language that divides Americans and Brits. The book's original title was 'Purpose Pitch,' baseball-ese for a ball thrown at or near the batter. This will never do, I was politely but firmly informed. 'Pitch,' of course, is the field where soccer (OK, football) is played. Fortunately, throwing someone a curveball is well-understood UK slang." Kennedy goes on to comment, "Sadly, I've never played for the Cubs, though I was a college professor at the University of Illinois--Chicago. I've also worked as a speechwriter, business recruiter, magazine editor, and movie extra in a Steve McQueen film. As a writer, I've published scholarly articles on Dickens, newspaper op-ed pieces, and prize-winning short stories."

G.W. Kennedy and his wife Joy are long-time residents of Arlington Heights, IL. They have two grown sons, Geoffrey and David.

For more information: Contact G. W. Kennedy via e-mail at kennedybill64@yahoo.com, or at 1521 E. Miner St., Arlington Heights, IL 60004; phone: 847-398-5727.

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