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When the gutted remains of Giggleswick’s teen-idol goalkeeper are discovered on a west Yorkshire playing field, Paul Stark gets a call from an old rival: Come take the dead man’s place on the team.

Stark, an American ex-pat, has been languishing in a dreary Scottish fishing village since the ignominious end of his own playing career. He jumps at the chance to restart his life, and doesn’t give a damn about Giggleswick’s hundred-year history of ineptitude, for which the club has earned the nickname “the Laff Riots.”

Soon he clashes with the club’s crooked owner and a cadre of xenophobic teammates, while befriending a crotchety groundskeeper, a punk-rock barista and a secretive Jill-of-all-trades for whom he develops an instant, catastrophic crush.

As the clock counts down to the end of the season and a ruinous business deal, solving the murder is the only way Stark can save the Laff Riots. But when the murderer sets his sights on Stark, the goalkeeper has to save himself.

--> Read the first chapter | Warmup — In Which the Laff Riots Groundskeeper Makes a Nauseating Discovery


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Death Is a Laff Riot is a “football noir” with elements of historical fiction, romance and magic. The story is set in the UK in the late 1970s, drawing on the culture, sports and politics of that era—with a whiff of Arthurian legend and a pub jukebox that knows just which Frank Sinatra song best fits the mood.

Death Is a Laff Riot was a runner-up in the 2017 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest.

--> Read the first chapter | Warmup — In Which the Laff Riots Groundskeeper Makes a Nauseating Discovery