Frankenstein meets Field of Dreams in this nostalgic, gracefully written but fundamentally flawed baseball novel. Set in a sleepy Georgia town during WW II, this coming-of-age saga is based on the real-life story of Danny Boles, a major league scout who died of throat cancer in 1989. The fictional Boles leaves his rural Oklahoma digs to become shortstop for the Hightower Hellbenders, vaulting the Class C team into a pennant race in the process. Veteran writer Bishop (No Enemy but Time) delivers smooth and polished baseball prose and does some nice tricks with sports colloquialisms. He also tackles gritty issues such as the origins-in sexual abuse-of Boles's stuttering, the ravages of war and the rampant racism that plagued the sport. More problematic is Boles's huge teammate, slugging first baseman Henry "Jumbo" Cerval, who bears a suspicious resemblance to the gargantuan outcome of Victor Frankenstein's grand experiment. In the beginning, Bishop presents Cerval as a literate, likable freak. As the season unfolds, Cerval is revealed as the original monster, having escaped and survived for almost a century in the frozen North. Bishop milks the ludicrous premise for an intriguingly macabre ending, but the real problem is that Henry is far more interesting as a flawed human than as a scientific creation. That flaw aside, Brittle Innings should prove an engaging read for both sports buffs and fiction fans.