Coming January 1 from Lake Union:
A poignant story about hopes, dreams, and how far one man’s talent takes him before he realizes it’s about what you do―and how you do it. Frank Ryder is unstoppable on the baseball field―his pitches arrive faster than a batter can swing, giving his opponents no chance. He’s being heralded as a game-changing pitcher.
But within the maelstrom of press, adulation, and wild speculation, Frank is a man alone. Haunted by a tragic incident from years past, he yearns to be the best but cannot reconcile the guilt he carries with the man everyone believes him to be. Frank’s path to redemption leads him on a journey back to where his life changed forever, to visit his family, his high school coach, and his brother. Through reconnection and reconciliation with
those also deeply affected by the devastating
event of Frank’s youth, he finds peace and his
place in the world both in and outside the game.
The Fireballer is a lyrical, moving story of
undeniable talent and the life-changing power of forgiveness and a subtly romantic ode to America's favorite pastime.
Publication date: Jan. 1, 2023
"Fleet and fun, The Fireballer will appeal to fans of The Natural and Robert Coover’s The Universal Baseball Association. Frank Ryder is a classic American hero—the phenom who has to overcome his own terrible past. Mark Stevens has done the impossible: He actually had me rooting for the Orioles."
— Stewart O’Nan, co-author of Faithful and author of Ocean State
“Seldom do I read a book that knocks my socks off the way the The Fireballer did. This is a feel-good baseball story with a hold on the vernacular, the heart, the soul, the big picture, and the subtleties of America’s favorite summer pastime. The characters are beautifully etched, and pitcher Frank Ryder may be the most likeable hero since Gary Cooper gave life to Lou Gehrig on the big screen. I guarantee that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to be swept up by this moving tale. With a full heart, I recommend—no, insist—that you read The Fireballer.”
— William Kent Krueger, author of Fox Creek and This Tender Land
“The Fireballer is not just a great baseball yarn that any fan of the game will enjoy – it is also a richly-layered exploration of character, regret, and redemption.”
— Lou Berney, author of November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone
“The Fireballer isn’t just about baseball. It’s about life, and loss, and what love can do. Mark Stevens shows not only a deep understanding of the game, but of human frailty and grace as well. This book is a true triumph."
— Claire Booth, award-winning journalist and critically-acclaimed author of the Hank Worth mysteries.
"Baseball fans or not, readers will find themselves rooting for Frank Ryder. A once-in-a-generation phenom, beneath the spin of his nearly unhittable fastballs, he is a young man struggling to overcome a tragedy from his past. In The Fireballer, the storytelling power of Mark Stevens is on full display—this novel comes at readers with the same confident force as one of Ryder's pitches."
— Wendy J. Fox, author of If the The Ice Had Held andWhat If We Were Somewhere Else
"Mark Stevens’ The Fireballer is a timeless baseball story told with a love of the game and fast-moving prose that will leave your cheering and crying at the same time. Frank Ryder is the most appealing of heroes, taciturn and loyal, talented, and haunted - truly haunted - and with a fastball that will change the game. With its authentic baseball scenes and its rich heart, The Fireballer is a novel that rests comfortably with other classics of the game."
— William Lashner, author of Freedom Road and The Barkeep
"The old game of baseball keeps coming up with new stories about the next twist or turn in the sport. In The Fireballer, Mark Stevens has invented a startling 'What if?' that stretches the limits of the game. More than a baseball book, the novel is a journey through the mind and heart of a gifted, but tragic, athlete who finds a road to redemption."
— New York Times bestselling author Stephen Singular
“The Fireballer is a compelling story that I found hard to put down, rich with authentic baseball details and full of heart. Mark Stevens hits hit it out of the park with this intricate and moving tale of redemption.”
— Robert Bailey, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Rich Blood, the Bocephus Haynes series, the McMurtrie & Drake Legal Thrillers series, and The Golfer’s Carol
“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie…and heart. Pitcher phenom Frank Ryder’s heart is bigger than the game—as is his grief—and his fastball has the potential to transform or destroy both. As Mark Stevens divulges Ryder’s temptations and talent alongside the complexities of the sport, readers will find themselves captivated by a world-class athlete’s regrets and life choices in The Fireballer.”
—Janet Fogg, award-winning author of Soliloquy and coauthor of the best seller Fogg in the Cockpit
”The Fireballer goes straight into my pantheon of great baseball writing, alongside The Brothers K (David James Duncan), The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach), You Gotta Have Wa (Robert Whiting), and the many treasures by Roger Angell. Mark Stevens’s ability to get 'inside baseball' – while telling a moving human story – is both astounding and worthy of readers of all interests and tastes.”
— John Galligan, author of the Bad Axe County novels
"You don't have to know baseball to love The Fireballer. At the center of this big-hearted book is Frank Ryder, a star pitcher tormented by a mistake in his past. Readers root for Frank not for his fastball, but because his redemption delivers us all."
— Stephanie Kane, award- winning mystery writer and author of the forthcoming True Crime Redux
“Mark Stevens has crafted a powerful, heartfelt story - with a memorable baseball backdrop - that carves out a place alongside classics like The Art of Fielding and The Natural. Stevens knows the game - but it's his deft narrative and characters that help this book truly sing. I couldn’t put it down.”
— Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity
“In The Fireballer, Mark Stevens may have invented a new sub-genre: the emotional thriller. As Frank Ryder journeys to the source of both his phenomenal talent and his psychic pain, I couldn’t stop turning pages. And when he earns his redemption? Reader, I cried. Love, loss, and ultimate triumph—this book delivers at 110 miles per hour.”
—Keir Graff, author of The Three Mrs. Wrights (writing with Linda Joffe Hull as Linda Keir)
"Brimming with humanity, The Fireballer is a richly imagined tale of the modern American pastime with a heart as big as center field. Pure storytelling genius."
— Scott Graham, winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and author of Saguaro Sanction
"The Fireballer is about a baseball pitcher, sure. The way The Natural is about a bat and Shoeless Joe is about a corn field. But this many-layered tale deeply considers hope, fear, love, grief, and change, all through the prism of our beautiful national pastime. The writing is heartfelt and gorgeous. The Fireballer struck me out. Looking."
— Richard Cass, author of the Elder Darrow Jazz Mysteries and The Last Altruist