Split to Splinters, by Max Everhart: A Hall of Famer Accuses his Own Family of Theft

split_to_splintersSplit to Splinters ($14.95, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-205-4), by Max Everhart, is the second book in a mystery/suspense series featuring Eli Sharpe, a former baseball player turned detective. A retired baseball star believes one of his four daughters is stealing his career memorabilia and gives Eli free rein to rattle the family skeletons.

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“A fast-paced whodunit of family intrigue centering on a legendary baseball pitcher whose priceless 300th-win baseball has been stolen. Max Everhart’s PI, Eli Sharpe, was himself a former ballplayer, but a mediocre one. Yet his grasp of human nature is of all-star quality. Sharpe is a clever and appealing character, and the story’s suspects are vivid and distinctive. Everhart’s second Eli Sharpe mystery is a solid hit, and I look forward to his next case.”

—Steve Steinberg, coauthor (with Lyle Spatz) of the award-winning 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, and the spring 2015 book, The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees

“Eli is a great character and Everhart has filled the book with interesting people. I like spending time with Eli. I was glad his personal issues played a lesser role in this book. It helps that baseball is a game I love and each mystery has a baseball theme…. You need not know baseball to enjoy the book but there are nuances for those who know the game. A good series is underway.”  Read more ….

—Bill Selnes, Mystery and More

“Everhart knows his baseball and he knows his mysteries and he knows the mind of the sleuth. Split to Splinters is first rate fiction. This is a fun book for PI fans who have been waiting for the good stuff.”  Read more….
—Jack Remick, co-author The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery

Jim Honeycutt, a vigorous Hall of Famer who still hurls 90 MPH fast balls in his 50s, is missing his three-hundredth career win baseball, and an anonymous note points to his daughters. Cherchez la femme, or so they say. In this case, there isn’t just one female involved, but six, and they are all suspects. Four lovely daughters, their seductive mother, and their mother’s best friend.

Eli Sharpe, an ex pro-baseball player based in Asheville, North Carolina, who investigates cases related to his former profession, sets out to delve into the complicated family dynamics of the Honeycutt clan. Other than the daughters, there are the various men who trail after them as well as the washed-out writer who lives in the Hall of Famer’s basement, supposedly writing his biography.

The culprit has to be someone in Jim’s circle. So how difficult can it be to expose them? Even Eli, with his already close acquaintance with human treachery, isn’t prepared for what he will find.

Split to Splinters is the second book in the Eli Sharpe Mystery series, which began with Go Go Gato.

Says Everhart, “Like most of my stories, Split to Splinters started with an image: Eli Sharpe in the batter’s box, ducking to avoid getting hit by a high fastball. From there, I had to figure out who was throwing the ball, and for that, I turned to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. One of my heroes growing up, Ryan served as the basis for the Jim Honeycutt character. I thought it would be interesting to surround this rugged, virile character with formidable women, so I gave him four daughters, a wife, and possibly, a mistress. Still needing a mystery, I was inspired by a much better writer than myself: William Shakespeare and his tragic family man, King Lear.”

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. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Eli followed the driveway around back and stopped short when he spotted a woman in a white bikini sunbathing by the pool. She was wearing black sunglasses and a white floppy hat that would be perfect for the Kentucky Derby. Joining her poolside, Eli squinted up at the overcast sky.

“A bit chilly for tanning.” No response. Eli flashed his private investigator’s license. “My name is Eli Sharpe. Jim Honeycutt hired me to find something of his.”

“Oh?”

“Someone stole an important baseball from his office.”

“Does it have sentimental value?”

“It’s worth a lot of money.”

The sunbather put her book down. Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie. She removed her sunglasses and hat, shook out her honey-colored hair.

“Mrs. Honeycutt?”

“I told you to call me Tess. Now be a dear and do my back.” She pointed to a bottle of suntan lotion that had a picture of a voluptuous, dark-skinned woman in a teal bikini on the front.

“No, thanks,” said Eli.

“You’re not afraid of an old biddy like me.”

“Afraid isn’t the word I’d use.”

She slapped him playfully on his leg, her smile wide enough to see every tooth. “Forgive me. I was having fun at your expense. You’ve come to see if I know anything about my husband’s precious ball.”

“I’ve come to see if you stole it.”

“You’re being rude. In my house.”

“Technically, we’re not in your house.”

“Are you mocking me?”

“Perhaps we should start over.” Eli rose, bowed like a well-trained servant. “If you would permit, madam, I’d very much appreciate the opportunity to question you regarding your esteemed husband’s stolen merchandise.”

She snorted, quickly covered her mouth with a bejeweled hand. “Good God, that is the worst British accent I’ve ever heard. But you’re adorable. Apology accepted.”

Eli didn’t bother to say he hadn’t apologized and didn’t intend to. He got out his fountain pen and notebook.

“Where were you when the ball went missing?”

“Saturday I had a dinner date with Linda Rogers.”

“The redhead? Drives an Audi?”

“She’s my best friend. We met at Mars Hill College, but I refuse to say how long ago that was.”

“You don’t look a day over thirty,” said Eli in his awful British accent.

She laughed, lilting and feminine. “We’re wannabe scribes, Linda and I. Or is it Linda and me? Anyway, we read and critique each other’s writing. It’s a rewarding hobby. You should try it. You have a certain way with words.”

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