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Reviewed by Frances Phillips for Readers' Favorite
Wow! If ever there was a rip-roaring narrative, This Never Happened: The Mystery Behind the Death of Christy Mathewson by JB Manheim is it! The novel has its origins in the speculation and uncertainty surrounding the untimely death of Christy Mathewson, baseball legend, in 1925. Facts and fiction collide as Manheim has engineered an ingenious storytelling approach involving the escapades of Jocko Drumm, a hobo. It incorporates the research of JT Willett, a baseball reporter, writing in 1936 about the legendary players to be the first inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Information from JT’s actual baseball columns is also used. There is reference to the efforts of Jocko’s grandson, Jason Drumm, and his friend, Adam Wallace, to make sense of the past – all of which threads are interwoven, keeping the reader enthralled The result is an absorbing page-turner that I could not put down.
This Never Happened is completely unpredictable, as JB Manheim leaves one thread of the story to continue with another. He is a versatile writer, showing not only an ability to change voice from character to character but also an ability to change language style to match the historical period in which the story is set. Manheim’s novel is well researched, shifting with ease from the intricacies of the US rail system of the 1930s to the modern world. The focus on baseball is such that all readers may enjoy the story. In addition, the illustrations and photographs lend a level of authenticity that leaves the reader wondering what is true and what is fiction. I look forward to Manheim’s next novel.