June 7, 2002
Sometimes you feel like reading something just for fun.
You’re not looking for any great or startling new insights. You’re not seeking to be swept away by a complex structure of post-modernist thought. All you want is some entertainment to while away a few hours.
If that’s your goal, Cut Shot will meet your needs nicely ($22.95 SRP).
This slender mystery novel uses professional golf as its backdrop as part of an intriguing premise.
The inherent attraction of the PGA Tour is to show remarkably talented golfers performing at their best under intense conditions. Now imagine what would happen to the Tour if organized crime infected it with gambling schemes and crooked players.
Considering the millions of dollars involved in the business of professional golf nowadays, “racketeer influence” would make the point shaving scandals that once rocked the college basketball scene pale by comparison.
At least, that’s what Jack Austin thinks, and he decides he’s in a position to do something about it.
Austin is a journeyman Tour pro, with 10 years’ experience but no wins on his resume. He’s engaged to Lisa Trembley, a career-driven CBS golf analyst whose looks might fool people into thinking that’s the only reason she’s on camera. Austin’s buddy Perkins is a former New England Patriots football player now earning his keep as a private detective.
Tim Silver, his caddy, is a journalist on sabbatical with a fine appreciation for Montel Williams and Perkins’ biceps. (It’s a very funny subplot.)
One night, another Tour pro comes to see Austin. Shortly thereafter our hero is sucked into an ugly mess involving some seriously ill-tempered people.
The mystery follows pretty classic plot lines, with golf as an entertaining backdrop: Hero finds himself drawn into problem, bad people try to warn hero off, hero doesn’t listen, and somehow hero manages to save the day.
Prior familiarity with boxing skills and the proper use of handguns is helpful, but not necessary.
I kept thinking I was reading a golf version of the Dick Francis novels, which I also enjoy for their pure entertainment value. Francis’ heroes always have some connection to horse racing, but the real story is always on the edge of the sport. They frequently suffer from an old physical injury or other distinguishing characteristic. The plots keep to a familiar structure, while giving the reader a little tutorial in a variety of related areas.
Cut Shot is similar. Austin has a learning disability, and his condition plays a role in both the plot and in fleshing out his character development. The novel also gives a fairly accurate picture of how the PGA Tour runs its traveling show from week to week, which will be illuminating for many readers. And, of course, there’s the organized crime element to spice things up.
The various characters are engaging. Trembley and Austin are both career-driven, but are also searching for the right way to make the ultimate commitment to each other. Silver and Perkins fill in as the faithful sidekicks, each in their own ways. I occasionally had trouble keeping track of which bad guys were which, but that’s a small quibble.
The author, John R. Corrigan, teaches at a school in Maine, and earned a Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Texas-El Paso. It just so happens that PGA Tour player J.P. Hayes is one of his buddies. Corrigan credits Hayes with his assistance during the writing of this first book in a planned series.
I’m looking forward to enjoying another evening or two with the next Jack Austin golf mystery.