PAUL BENJAMIN – Squeeze Play. Max Klein #1. Avon, paperback; 1st printing, March 1984. Penguin Books, paperback, 1990. First published by Alpha-Omega as a very scarce trade paperback in 1982.

   Ostensibly another baseball mystery, and as far as I know, the only case of PI Max Klein on record. Max’s client in this one, George Chapman, was once a superstar player, but he now has only one leg, and his new career in politics is about to be cut short by blackmail.

   So there’s none of the inside locker room stuff to report on as there was in Alison Gordon’s The Dead Pull Hitter [reviewed here ], but when Max takes his son to a game, what we do get is an avid fan’s view of what it’s like to be there in person. The rest of the story could have been trimmed by 20 percent, but every so often Max gets a good line off.

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #18, December 1989, in slightly revised form.

[UPDATE] 10-24-18.   This was, as I suspected back the, Max Klein’s only appearance. What I did not realize at the time that Paul Benjamin was a pen name for well-known and highly acclaimed author Paul Auster and that Squeeze Play was his first book.

   For a time the Avon paperback was generally assumed to be the first printing of the book, and when it was discovered to have been written by Auster, it was generally offered in the low three figures by book dealers. I sat at table next to such a dealer at one of Gary Lovisi’s NYC paperback shows where he had it priced at $200, but as I recall, no one even picked it up to look at, nor does it go for anywhere near that price now.

   On the other hand, the Alpha-Omega edition can easily set you back today a low four figure amount. Follow the link!