The New England Patriots (who figure prominently in the plot of The Dread Line, my new crime novel) are starting this season the same way they left off last season — with too many key players unavailable.
It’s not just that QB Tom Brady is starting his four-game “deflategate” suspension. Four more offensive starters (that’s five of 11, folks) will have to sit this one out. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is down with a hamstring, right guard Jonathan Cooper and left tackle Nate Solder are recovering from pre-season injuries, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is probably gone for the year, and running back Dion Lewis is out for at least six weeks.
With three of the five offensive line starters out, the Pats will rely on backups, but again there’s trouble. Guard Tre Jackson is out and guard Shaq Mason, though probably available, is hurt and not at full strength. This does not bode swell for Jimmy Garoppolo, who may find himself scrambling for his life.
On the other side of the ball, the Pats are in better shape with just starting end Rob Ninkovich and backup Tre Flowers out and key linebacker Shea McClellin one of the few walking wounded likely to be unavailable or not at full strength.
Given the relative health of the powerful Arizona Cardinals, it’s hard, even for this New England fan, to pick the Pats in this one. I just hope Bill Belichick has something up his sleeve.
In The Dread Line, the New England Patriots, still shaken by a series of murder charges against one of their star players (true story) have hired Mulligan (not a true story) to investigate the background of a college star they are thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as he starts asking questions, he gets push-back. The player has something to hide, and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.
To order The Dread Line, the fifth in the Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels by Bruce DeSilva, you can choose from a list of independent or chain online bookstores here.