'The Devil's Glove': Mystery strikes out with unusual prose, plot

‘The Devil’s Glove” (Tate Publishing, 382 pages, $26.99) is bedeviled by some writing issues.

Debut novelist Louis Agnello Jr., writing under the name Cousin Vinny, has penned a tale of good versus evil in which the “Manager” and the “Light” war over the souls of two driven baseball players.

It’s a story of sports, relationships and redemption, and that could be a winning combination. Unfortunately, a few issues come into play.

Some of the book’s problems stem from the array of supernatural characters and settings. Eddie, one the book’s main protagonists, visits a depressing ballpark in his dreams.

Ruled over by the “Manager,” the ballpark is also where Eddie meets Billy, the man who becomes his dream coach.

Eddie also gets otherworldly advice from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but that counsel comes over the phone. We meet the “Light” at a sort of intergalactic council meetings.

While the supernatural is, by its very nature, mysterious, the book would benefit from a more consistent portrayal of things unseen.

Agnello’s prose style is also problematic. He doesn’t fully trust his dialogue to convey what his characters are thinking and feeling, and so tends to rely overmuch on adverbs and other descriptors to give the reader a sense of the mood. His narrator sometimes intrudes too much into the story, providing thoughts and details that would be better conveyed through action or dialogue:

“Eddie went to school but it seemed to all who knew him that he was just sleepwalking through it. He was going through the motions of being an ordinary middle school kid and that’s all. He would sit in his classroom, literally stare out the window, and not take a single note … His teachers stared curiously over at him, wondering what had gone wrong. His whole attitude had changed overnight and let me add, not for the better. He used to be a very good student.”

Some of the book’s positive messages are perhaps obscured by the writing issues. With this first trip to the literary plate, Agnello doesn’t strike out, but “The Devil’s Glove” isn’t a home run, either.

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