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St. Cloud mystery novelist continues baseball series

Posted on Friday, March 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm



By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
The legacy of Mickey Rawlings has grown in the last year thanks to a new book in the character’s trilogy, The Tomb That Ruth Built.
Rawlings is the main character of murder mystery books penned by Troy Soos, who has lived in St. Cloud now for three years by way of Seminole County, Boston for college, and Passaic, N.J. by birth.
The Tomb That Ruth Built is the seventh in the Mickey Rawlings series, which is woven into baseball history and uses actual historical accounts and real ballplayers as characters from 1912-23, when the stories are set. Rawlings is a major leaguer, although a bench-warming, but he’s also fancies himself as an amateur sleuth who analytically solves the murder mysteries in all seven books.
“Mickey is a utility infielder, he’s not very good so he gets traded a lot,” Soos said. “He’s the kind of guy who would make a great manager someday.”
There seems to be a lot of the Rawlings character in Soos. He said he learned early in this baseball-playing youth he had scholastic talent but wouldn’t make it as a ballplayer — so he eventually ended up with diplomas from an umpiring school and MIT.
He attended the Harry Wendelstedt professional umpire school in Daytona Beach and umpired high school baseball for a couple of years before deciding to go to college full time. He earned physics degrees from Rutgers and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it was while writing physics research papers he found the writing process enjoyable and wanted to try writing fiction.
While working as a research physicist, Soos wrote his first book, Murder at Fenway Park, in 1994.
“I’ve loved baseball history since I was a kid. I wrote it thinking when I finished, I’d be done with it,” he said. “But then I thought it could turn it into a series, and my publisher signed me to a three-book contract.”
So started the series, and Soos left physics to write full-time. That pact with Kensington Publishing led to another three-book deal, which completed with The Tomb That Ruth Built, completed late last year and recently published as an audio book narrated by Johnny Heller, who has narrated the entire Mickey Rawlings trilogy, which includes titles like Murder at Ebbets Field, Murder at Wrigley Field, Hunting a Detroit Tiger and Hanging Curve.
The Tomb That Ruth Built is set in 1923, when Ruth led the New York Yankees to its first World Series title. Rawlings investigates the murder of a bootlegger found buried in the team’s new stadium and becomes caught in the fight between rival gangsters.
Soos calls the stories “fiction wrapped around fact,” but the facts are so strong that college professors have used them as supplementary history texts.
“I know there are some who have put the books on their class reading lists,” he said.
Soos moved to Florida about 15 years ago and stepped back to writing part time while teaching physics in high school. He lives in St. Cloud with his wife of two years, Jennifer Zable, the art teacher at Hickory Tree Elementary School.
“What I’ve come to like about St. Cloud, after living in Boston and North Jersey where it’s so fast-paced, is that you get to know people and the town,” he said.
He currently teaches at Oviedo High School in Seminole County, where many of his science students know that he is a baseball/murder novelist.
“Most of them do, and I think it’s good for them to realize that a person doesn’t have to be just a ‘science person’ or ‘band kid’ or ‘liberal arts person,’ but can pursue a variety of interests,” he said. “A number of students who are interested in writing themselves have spoken to me over the years and I’ve been happy to help and encourage them as best I can.”