Hangman’s Game: Bill Syken
How do you determine or measure success? Is it by the money or amount in your bank account? Is it by the position you hold in your company or firm? What would you do if your success was measured by what others think you are worth? Is it worth it to sign up for a position just because they will pay you big money? What is your definition of making it?
Sam Sault just wanted to live his life in Alabama until the scouts saw him play football and wanted to sign him for 64 million dollars. Not really sure that’s what he wanted for his life he was tempted to turn it down. A girlfriend, a child on the way and a comfortable like with his family why leave what makes him happy? But sometimes the choices we make are not the ones we should have made and the end result as in this case was tragic. Nick Gallow and his agent Cecil are joining Samuel for dinner at a restaurant named Starks. Entering they find many of his new teammates on the Sentinels dining with star linebacker Jai Carson. But, jealousies run high and although JC invites Samuel to join the crowd for dinner he ignores the invitation and requests the there eat at another table.
The conversation seems stilted and Samuel not that talkative as Nick tries to draw him out and learn more about his past and him. But, Nick is seeing a married woman named Jessica and the text messages are quite graphic and throughout the evening he gets distracted but one moment in time would change the course of events for them all.
Events spiral in a different direction as Nick Gallow and Cecil Wilson take Samuel to see the stadium that the Sentinels play in but what happens next changes it all. Standing and texting his girlfriend, Nick is distracted when a car shoots by and the driver shoots not only Cecil but mortally wounds Samuel. Who or why is not revealed and the only thing that Nick can tell the police is what the bumper sticker on the back of the car looked like. Deciding to find out more Nick learns that the police feel he is a material witness and the two detectives are merciless when it comes to their questioning and insults regarding his status on the team.
“A punter (P) in American or Canadian football is a player who receives the snapped ball directly from the line of scrimmage and then punts or (kicks) the football to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. This generally happens on a fourth down in American football and a third down in the Canadian version. Punters may also occasionally take part in fake punts in those same situations, when they throw or run the football instead of punting.” Wikipedia. The position is not one to be taken lightly yet Nick has to fight every step of the way to remain in that position. With author’s experience writing for Sports Illustrated and his background in sports, he shares the practices, the momentum, the spirit of the game and at times when you meet Coaches Huff and Tanner you begin to think it’s all about the win and not the players. The police are looking for the killer and have zeroed in on Jai. Although Nick is not one of his favorite people nor is he one of his favorite people, he rallies around him and feels he is not guilty of killing Sam. Attending the funeral with owner Freddie, learning more about the team and their reactions to the murder, when Freddie asks him to leave why does he return again?
A young girl that deals in giving back to the community but in an unusual way just might be the source of what happened to Samuel but will she come clean with the information? What does a fifty-dollar bill have to do with Sam’s death?
When Nick joins Jai for a night out what happens when the police arrest Jai for murder? When practice begins and the week at the minicamp brings the players out, why is the focus on just the game and no one talks about Jai. With the murder in the forefront to Nick and Jai giving him the nickname Hangman, just how would this come into play when trying to solve the case? Players talking. Meeting seasoned ones that retired from the game, talking to some at the funeral just where is Nick going to go with this. Added in a relentless reporter is out to spill the beans about Cecil and the end result will surprise readers.
The story is fast paced. The story rings quite true as if it was ripped out of the headlines and we are viewing the events first hand. Experience the practices, hear Nick’s father coach him to strive to become the best and being a punter is where he has to focus, author and journalist Bill Syken has created a five-touchdown novel. Characters that are true to life and a game so vividly described you can feel the tension at practice, experience the climbs, the exercises and more as Nick fights to find the truth.
The author takes a great job explaining the game and having readers go through the many camps with Nick and his team. But, a cloud is hanging over his head as he realizes that there are lies, deceits and betrayals at every corner and just where does Melody fit in you won’t believe. When Nick finally puts the pieces together you won’t believe the reason behind Sam’s murder, who is guilty. An ending that puts his career on hold. A relationship that is at a stalemate and an author who created not only a great punter but quite a number of perfect ones when creating this novel. What happens when Nick confronts his agent? What about getting cut from the team? What happens when all of the pieces fit nicely within the frame of a football to create its own perfect play? Who’s guilty? Who is innocent and who will be the recipient of the final punt in Hangman’s Game? Success and Fame: What’s it worth to you? How far would you go to get what you want?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews