Go Go Gato, by Max Everhart: A Ballplayer Vanishes

go_go_gatoGo Go Gato ($14.95, 278 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-911-4), by Max Everhart, is the first book in a new mystery/suspense series set in Asheville, North Carolina, and featuring Eli Sharpe, a former baseball player turned detective.

“Sharpe becomes, like every good literary PI, an engaging, magnetic, flawed, multi-faceted, and most importantly, interesting character who’s more than meaty and likeable enough to carry the narrative. And without any hint of spoilage, the story itself wraps up with a satisfying denouement. Go Go Gato is a solid, realistic, and thoroughly baseball-based mystery with an entertaining and believable main character in Eli Sharpe, and Everhart’s appealing writing style enhances this book to an eminently enjoyable, winning level.” Read more….

—Mark Schraf, Spitball Magazine (December 31, 2014)

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Go Go Gato is the debut entry in a promising new series by Max Everhart, and it’s a fast-paced, entertaining tale. Eli Sharpe is a very appealing character who combines just the right amounts of wit, humor, intelligence and courage, and it will be fun to watch him in action as the series continues to grow and develop.”

—James L. Thane, author of Until Death and No Place to Die

“An excellent debut. Eli is a memorable character…. I enjoyed the realistic description of pro baseball and the challenges of youthful highly paid athletes. I look forward to reading more Eli Sharpe mysteries.”  Read more ….

–Bill Selnes, Mysteries and More

“Everhart has crafted a first-rate private eye yarn in Go Go Gato. From the blonde who walks into his office to the cat in the rusted out car, he understands the genre, folding all the elements hard-boiled fans love into a modern tale about a young Cuban baseball player, greed and betrayal…. Baseball fans of the young star at the center of the mystery have nicknamed him “Go Go” Gato.  Fans of P.I. novels who read this are sure to say, ‘Go, go, Max Everhart!'”  Read more ….

–M. Ruth Myers, Gal Gumshoe

5 Stars: “This excellent neo-noir mystery expertly blends baseball and detective work. How have we not seen this before? There is a patience and quiet observation to both that make the pairing particularly effective. Throw in some fascinating characters and ingenious twists and you’ve got Go Go Gato. This is an entertaining read, one that will make you want to know more about Eli Sharpe and his world of booze, baseball, and bad guys.”

—Elizabeth Dutton, author of Driftwood and 1,033 Reasons to Smile

“Pitch perfect dime store PI …. I’m looking forward to reading more of Sharpe and his future investigations.”

—Just a Guy Who Likes To Read blog

“The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them.” Read more….

—Deal Sharing Aunt

The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf
The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf
The author really created a world that has so many interesting characters that he will have no problem with future books in the series. The ex-fiances were my favorite characters and the fact that Eli still talks to them really says a lot about his character. The Private Eye Genre is getting smaller and I am glad that there are authors out there still writing about them. I – See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/10/go-go-gato-by-max-everhart-review.html#sthash.MPh4rAGA.dpuf

“From its hero to its milieu to its eccentric, three-dimensional characters, Max Everhart’s Go Go Gato is a terrific read. The North Carolina minor-league baseball scene feels authentic and beloved, and I was always rooting for protagonist Eli Sharpe. The best news is that this excellent mystery is first in a series. Fans of Harlan Coben will want to check out Max Everhart, a major new talent!”

—Steve Ulfelder, Edgar finalist author of Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

“Max Everhart scores a homerun with this first novel in his new Eli Sharpe mystery series. Eli finds much more than he bargained for in his search for a missing baseball player in this fast read, best enjoyed with a glass of George Dickel in hand since that’s Eli’s favorite ‘poison.’ Like a good curveball you won’t see the twist ending coming at you.”

—Paul D. Marks, author of the Shamus Award-Winning novel, White Heat

“A missing persons case turns deadly. In Go Go Gato, Everhart executes the classic mystery with ease and more than a few twists. All the modular scenes are there—the sleuth’s office, first encounter with the femme fatale, the victim’s lair, digging up the past, witness interviews, suspect interviews, and that essential—the corpse. But we’re not in LA or Boston. We’re not in SF or NYC. Everhart sets this fine novel in Asheville, NC, and he breathes new life into an old form with a convoluted plot, detailed characters, and a very flawed detective. Chandler would be proud.”

—Jack Remick, poet, essayist and author of several novels, including Montaigne Medal and ForeWord BOTY Finalist Gabriela and The Widow

When Almario “Go Go” Gato, a handsome young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent Veronica Craven hires a private investigator to track down her best client. No police. No press. Enter Eli Sharpe, an Asheville, North Carolina-based ex-ballplayer turned private detective who specializes in investigating professional athletes.

Eli begins by questioning Maria Gato, Almario’s roommate and fraternal twin. Maria watched while both her parents drowned on the boat ride from Cuba to America, so she is naturally desperate to get her only brother back. She tells Eli a secret: Almario may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.

Eli tracks down Almario’s supposed girlfriend, a rich sorority girl, but is soon led to another woman in his life, Sheri Stuckey, his cocaine supplier and fiancée who works in tandem with a gay bartender named Dantonio Rushing. Stuckey, a drug abuser and single mother, claims Almario split because she wanted the two of them to check into rehab. But Rushing, dazzled by Almario’s boyish good looks, tells a different tale: Almario has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself and named Stuckey as the primary beneficiary.

With the help of his a mentor—a former homicide detective—and five ex fiancées who still care about him, Eli follows Go Go’s trail, determined to locate the elusive ballplayer before one of the nasty people in his life—or his own bad habits—do him in.

Says Everhart, “Eli Sharpe is an amalgamation, a Frankenstein I cobbled together out of spare parts just lying around the junkyard in my brain. From television, I constructed my detective from Atlanta Braves games circa mid-1980s, reruns of The Rockford Files, the first season of The Wire, andthe Fletch movies. From hard-boiled PI books, I borrowed elements from Lew Archer, Philip Marlowe, C.W. Sughrue, Archy McNally, and dozens of other fictional detectives. From my own life, I drew on half-remembered conversations between my father and me, fragmented images from my time in Asheville, and god-only-knows what else. But in the end, Go Go Gato is the kind of story I like to read, and Eli Sharpe is the type of detective that I, as a reader, would become obsessed with. Hopefully, other readers will share my obsession.”

Max Everhart has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His short stories have been published in CutBank, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Slow Trains Journal, and juked. His short story, “The Man Who Wore No Pants,” was selected by Michael Knight for Best of the Net 2010 and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web Anthology. Currently, he teaches English and Creative Writing at Northeastern Technical College and Coker College. Go Go Gato is his first novel.  Click here to find Max on the Web.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Veronica pushed her sunglasses atop her head and produced a key. She unlocked a little red box above the other elevator buttons and pressed the only button inside. “The penthouse,” she said. “Top floor.”

“So you’ve already seen her today?”

“Yes, I drove from the airport to DMSI Investigations and then straight here.”

“So you lied to me.” Eli stood on his tiptoes and looked down. “You’re taller than six feet.”

The elevator opened directly into the fifth floor penthouse.

“This way,” Veronica said, and Eli followed.

The apartment was open concept with more white marble floors and walls. The main living area had twenty-foot ceilings and a large glass window overlooking the downtown cityscape and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond. There was a 50-inch plasma screen TV mounted on the wall, and a red velvet loveseat and matching armchair arranged around an ultra-modern coffee table made of dark wood with a white lacquered surface. Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera lay dog-eared on the coffee table along with a Statistics textbook. Eli shuddered at the memory of taking STATS 215—all those nights spent guzzling instant coffee and staring at a blank sheet of graphing paper. Something spicy was cooking somewhere, and his stomach groaned.

“Wait here,” Veronica said and clicked her heels into the kitchen, which was separated from the rest of the space by a wall that only reached halfway to the ceiling.

Eli sat down in the velvet armchair and picked up Marquez’s novel. He didn’t read Spanish, but as he stared at the opening paragraph, he remembered the book’s opening, something about death and the smell of almonds. He put the book back where he found it and walked to the large picture window. The traffic inched along Biltmore Avenue below. Sunlight gleamed off the hoods of cars and neighboring buildings. A small band of Phish fans milled around the fountain, strumming guitars for spare change and smoking cloves. Eli walked to a door leading out to the terrace. A selling feature for most, but he didn’t care for heights. Or stainless steel furniture. He returned to the red velvet armchair and waited.

Several minutes later Veronica waved Eli toward the kitchen. She leaned in close, grabbed hold of his jacket lapels, and stared into his eyes. “No bullshit, Almario is all she has.” She bit her lip and let go of his jacket, smoothed out the wrinkles she’d made. “At the moment, he’s all I have.”

Eli got his first look at Maria Gato in the kitchen, which was massive and cold like the rest of the apartment. Raven-haired with a dark brown face sprinkled with pimples, Maria stood over a steaming sauce pan, her marble-black eyes focused on what looked like chicken bubbling in a reddish sauce. Her skin tone was much darker than Almario’s, and standing next to Veronica, Maria appeared dwarfish and plump, bordering on fat. Her clothes weren’t flattering either: a baggy tie-dyed T-shirt splattered with flour and red sauce and Jordache blue jeans that hung loose off her wide hips.

Eli introduced himself, and Maria lowered her eyes as she shook his hand. Firm grip. Strong, callused hands.

Veronica opened a drawer, removed a clean white apron, and slipped it over her pencil skirt, tying it off in the back. She put a hand on Maria’s shoulder. “Eli Sharpe, the quiet one here is Maria Gato, Almario’s twin sister. Maria, Mr. Sharpe is the private investigator I hired to find Almario. He needs to ask you some questions. Don’t worry, he’s here to help.”

Maria nodded a second time and continued stirring her pot with a wooden spoon.

Veronica nodded at Eli.

Eli said, “Veronica tells me you received an email from Almario yesterday. Is that right?”

“No, it isn’t,” Maria snapped. “The email was from Almario’s address, but it wasn’t him.”

“Do you mean someone other than Almario wrote it?”

“Yes, someone else wrote it.”

“How do you know?”

“The grammar. It was full of mistakes.”

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