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Double Play (Burke, #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  1,528 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
1947: Jackie Robinson breaks baseball's color barrier--and changes the world. The event also changes the life of Robinson's bodyguard--and those changes can prove fatal.
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 7th 2005 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 2004)
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Two things I love: Baseball and Robert Parker. Doubly so when mixed together. Robert Parker, famous for creating the loveable and sarcastic Spenser, has taken a pivotal event in baseball (and America’s) history—the moment Jackie Robinson breached the color barrier—and blended it into a noir/memoir/historical novel. Now this sounds pretty cheesy. Okay, I admit. This was creamy Velveeta spread over a brick of Colby jack. But, for me, this story works. Basically, this story is about redemption. Som ...more
Kirsten *Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!"
A fun book in many ways. As a historical novel, a mystery, a hard-boiled/noir story, and memoir.

This is the story of Burke - a man scarred by war.

It is also the story of Jackie Robinson - a man fighting against racism to make a difference not just for himself, but for all those like him.

But, it is also the story of little Bobby Parker who was 15 when Jackie broke the color barrier.

One of the neat things that Robert B Parker does in this book is interpose his own memories between the chapters.
May 06, 2010 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual Robert Parker novel that mixes baseball history and a new character, Joseph Burke. Burke, after first having Parker define his credentials as a tough guy coming out of the Korean War who really doesn't care if he lives or dies, is hired to protect Jackie Robinson from the cretins of the world who are dismayed that a black man has been allowed into the major leagues. Obviously, there is little suspense, and the appeal of the book lies in its portrayal of a time and place. It's also a book ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Drebbles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
It is 1947 and Jackie Robinson has broken baseball's color barrier, but it has not been easy. The Dodgers decide he needs a bodyguard and they hire World War II Vet Joseph burke to protect him. Burke's wife left him while he was in the hospital recovering from war wounds and since then he hasn't cared much about anything or anyone except his job. Lauren Roach comes closes to stealing his heart, but she's trouble. Burke knows guarding Robinson may be dangerous but he doesn't realize that working ...more
Aug 09, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Double Play is an excellent fictional portrayal of how Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. Joseph Burke is a WWII veteran whose wife leaves him while he's in the hospital recovering from serious wounds; after leaving the hospital, he works as a boxer and a bodyguard and is eventually hired by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers to protect Robinson in his first year in the majors. Repercussions from Burke's previous job, guarding Lauren, the self-destructive daughter of a po ...more
Quick read from Robert B. Parker – Burke is a disillusioned WWII veteran who returned from Guadalcanal to find a note on the table and his wife gone. Once home, he progresses from fighter to “enforcer” to bodyguard. His good work for the organized crime bosses of New York help him land a position guarding Jackie Robinson, who is about to break the color barrier in baseball. When Robinson angers a white crime boss, Burke has navigate carefully to keep himself and Robinson from getting killed.

Sep 23, 2010 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fictional account of Jackie Robinson's bodyguard. I thought it might be more involved in baseball and in the life of Jackie Robinson, but it turned out to be a fairly generic mystery story. It was a decent plot, but the language was often pretty course. Again, a decent story, but nothing to get excited about.
Jan 24, 2011 Thomas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to say this about a beloved (I read all the Spenser novels when I was a teenager) and recently departed author. But this just seemed really, really lightweight, and was more about a pretty uninteresting army vet and much, much less about Jackie Robinson, which is where the true drama should have been,
Stephen King says: "If you only read his Spenser novels, it's easy to forget how versatile Parker can be. This story of Jackie Robinson's fictional bodyguard during the season when Robinson crossed pro baseball's color line reminded me."

Pam Nishimoto
After seeing the movie "42" a while back and learning about Jackie Robinson it was fun to read a different perspective on this story.
Gerd Mueller
Jul 15, 2013 Gerd Mueller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, saying everything without saying or explaining anything. Thats how it works with really good books (or any stories at all by the way).
Sheila Massingale
Got the audiobook...first Robert B Parker...good so far
Zach Eisenmann
Double Play by Robert B. Parker follows the life of Joseph Burke.This book makes you think about revenge. Burke is a bodyguard for Jackie Robinson. The author makes Burke’s life seem terrible until Burke figures out that his life isn’t worthless. It was an exciting story that is meant to entertain. It makes you feel like you’re in the 1940’s dealing with gangsters, baseball players, and other people living in Brooklyn at the time. I think Mr. Parker’s story is aimed at teenagers because it is th ...more
Jun 24, 2008 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parker fans, baseball fans, Jackie Robinson fans, hard boiled lit fans.
As I've stated in other reviews, I'm a big Robert Parker fan. This book helps cement that feeling. I'm also a baseball fan, a Jackie Robinson fan and a bit of a history buff. No wonder I loved re-reading this book (I first read it four years ago) and finished it in 24 hours.

The themes are not all that different from his other books: male bonding, a laconic protagonist who reminds me of Hawk from the Spenser series, the problems of finding love and maintaining a relationship, and the inherent par
Okay not much suspense--will Jackie Robinson be okay??

But Parker does create an interesting character in Burke, who Parker shows in very quick, minimalistic strokes is a disillusioned WWII veteran 2x wounded (once by the war, once by his wife who divorces him as soon as he comes home)--Parker describes Burke's rapid transition from fighter, to collection/leg breaker to body guard. In the middle he gets mixed up with a girl who has more baggage than an airliner at Christmast and winds up guarding
Sep 06, 2010 Genie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This tale was set in 1947 when Joseph Burke, a WWII vet, returns home both physically and emotionally wounded in combat and on the home front. Burke comes home from the hospital to an empty house, a long period of recoperation time and no job. Using past experiences in the millitary, he begins a in boxing but discovers he's good but not good enough to last long term. Through connections in boxing, he hires on as a bodyguard.Burke signs on with Dodger owner Branch Rickey to protect Robinson from ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Parker is most famous for his Spencer novels. This tale mixes the story of a disillusioned WW II veteran with the integration of Major League baseball by Jackie Robinson. Parker doesn’t waste any words, not in description or exposition. His sentences are taut, his chapters terse. Several implausible things happen but they happen so fast that your suspension of disbelief has no time to spring into exasperation before the next scene is not only begun but halfway over. Parker also does a superior j ...more
N.N. Light
Jul 22, 2015 N.N. Light rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once I figured out how to read this book it was a superb book. This book is in three parts - it appears one part is the diary like view of the time period of the book from the point of view of the author as a youngster. I have no proof of this as it is never explained. If it's not then the long sections by 'Bobby' make no sense. There is another part that appears to be the past of the main character. It is woody and disruptive as it breaks up the flow of the book. The main part is the story of a ...more
Sep 28, 2010 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction

An imaginative, entertaining, and fast-moving story about Jackie Robinson and his bodyguard, World War II veteran Joseph Burke. Probably a five-star book overall, but minus one star for Parker's decision to insert his own boyhood recollections throughout the book. These italicized passages really slow down the narrative. Parker should have saved 'em for his autobiography, which, sadly, he never got a chance to write.

Also, the Hemingwayesque first sentence in this book -- "Joseph Burke got it at
Nov 13, 2013 ambimb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
A solid little airplane read. My great aunt gave this to me bc she's a huge Robert Parker fan. Once I got a few pages in, I knew I'd be finishing it. Parker is a good storyteller. Nothing fancy, but good, simple writing, a plot that pulls you in, and characters you can easily care about (or loathe).

This was great to read at the end of October bc November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and this book was like a clinic on how to tell a good, simple story w/o a lot of frills, which is
Two of my favorite things: baseball and mysteries. DOUBLE PLAY, a book of fiction, was written by Robert Parker of Spenser fame. Much like the Spenser books: mystery, quick read. This is listed as Burke, #1 and as far as I know, the only Burke novel Parker wrote. Too bad, I would have liked to see where he took the Burke character. It is 1947, the war is over and Jackie Robinson is breaking the major league baseball's color barrier. Dodger's manager Branch Richey hires WWII and Guadalcanal vet, ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Mom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know...I'm blowing through books at a record pace, but it's stinkin' hot out and when I can't be outside, I'd rather be reading. It's 1947 and Jackie Robinson has been brought up to the major leagues...the first black to play with white players. It's a time of gangsters and mobsters and ugly hatred. Joseph Burke, having just returned from the war, recovering from several gunshot wounds, and divorced after a short marriage, tries fighting (not boxing) to make a living. When he fails, he is offe ...more
Carla Patterson
Sep 22, 2016 Carla Patterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-challenge
I really enjoyed this - it's well written and some of the relationships are like those in a Spenser or Virgil Cole novel BUT that works here. There are some tidbits I had no personal knowledge of even though my Mom and her parents lived through it (although in Philly). I thought I knew just about everything about being black in 1947 (Just saying that makes me see how ridiculous that was!) but I didn't. ;)

My grandmother was a huge fan of baseball anyway but, when Robinson was in the Dodgers organ
Chuck Cowing
Jan 01, 2014 Chuck Cowing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Very good fiction on what it would be like to be Jackie Robinson's bodyguard in a prejudice US.

"Quick read from Robert B. Parker – Burke is a disillusioned WWII veteran who returned from Guadalcanal to find a note on the table and his wife gone. Once home, he progresses from fighter to “enforcer” to bodyguard. His good work for the organized crime bosses of New York help him land a position guarding Jackie Robinson, who is about to break the color barrier in baseball. When Robinson angers a whit
Apr 18, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
11-1-2013 book on tape at least to priors.
Could be one of my favorite easy reading books.
wonderful story.
clue - if my class did a poster on Jackie R in Feb, then it was not last year 2012 but maybe 2011. I'll go for 2011

somehow i didn't date the first entry.
bookon tape
I didn't realize until seeing the book jacket that this is the first of a series.
I thoroughly enjoyed the protagonist - Burke.
Terrific story. Since I like series, this is great!
I rarely give 5 stars.
I think part of that was getting
Aug 18, 2009 HBalikov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Parker has done this before with Spenser, but he has found his groove again with another tough guy. This time he is a WW II vet who becomes bodyguard to Jackie Robinson.
He could have given us just that, but here process is important and Parker is near the top of his skill as he describes both:
1. What this point in American culture was really like; and,
2. How a young man could set aside his ability to feel and what that means for his return to the adult world of that time and place.
Jun 11, 2013 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Burke survives Guadalcanal seriously wounded and returns home to be divorced. He is hired by Julius Roach as a bodyguard to protect his daughter Lauren from Louis Boucicault-son of mafioso. While protecting Lauren he kills two of Boucicault's thugs and becomes persona non wanted by the Italians. Rickey hires him to protect Jackie Robinson from the world after signing him as the first black major leaguer. Various close calls with death lead Burke to enlist Cash to help him clean up the bad ...more
Kate Quinn
Jan 25, 2010 Kate Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Parker's rare standalone novels, and a must for anyone who loves baseball. Jackie Robinson has just broken the color barrier as the first black player in major league baseball, and a battered war veteran named Burke has been hired as his bodyguard. Robinson is proud, skilled, and cynical; Burke is wounded, ferocious, and nearly mute. Friendship grows slowly between these two men, between the lines of laconic conversations in cheap hotels after ball games. A character study, an action dram ...more
Feb 19, 2009 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One thing you can say about Parker is that he is consistent. His main character [except of course Sunny:] is always a knock of Spenser-macho male with few words! I always enjoy his books, however, because they are quick fun reads. He's a male Janet Evanvoich.

'This' main macho man is Burke and he has been hired as a bodyguard for Jackie Robinson. It was an entertaining story. I need a break every once in awhile and something to read that doesn't require any thinking! And Parker and Evanvoich are
Oct 16, 2008 Monty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I am a Robert B. Parker fan, but I have never given any of his books the highest rating. I rated this one so high because of the way he developed the characters, wove different time periods of Burke's life (it did get a bit confusing at times) and tied in a bit of US history, especially WWII, Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball, and racial discrimination. Jackie Robinson doesn't enter the scene until about 1/3 of the way through the book (the book is about Burke, his bodyguar ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database named Robert B. Parker.
Robert Brown Parker was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the late 1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced.
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