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Last shot: a final four mystery

by John Feinstein


Book Review

:

Publishers Weekly :

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Sports and mystery get equal play in sportswriter and adult author Feinstein's (A Season on the Brink) novel set during a Final Four basketball tournament in New Orleans. Taking center court is 13-year-old Stevie, who—along with Susan Carol, another eighth grader—landed tickets and press passes to the weekend's games by winning a writing contest sponsored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The story starts slowly with some superfluous dialogue and a surfeit of detail about specific players, coaches, sports writers and announcers. Yet the pace picks up when Feinstein casts the two aspiring young sports journalists in additional roles of sleuths: the pair overhears a man blackmailing Chip Graber, the star player (and son of the coach) of the Minnesota State team to throw the championship game against Duke. Though they can't see the culprit during this conversation, it takes the youngsters no time at all to identify him as a member of MSU's faculty—ironically, an ethics professor. As Stevie and Susan Carol team up with Chip to uncover the intricacies of the blackmail plan—and to try to foil it—the author's plotting entails some fancy footwork that will keep readers on their toes. The minimal on-court action is nonetheless dramatic and briskly paced. Young basketball fans will most appreciate the caper, but mystery buffs will also turn these pages eagerly. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 6-10–This action-packed mystery is set at the NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament. Eighth-graders Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are aspiring journalists and winners of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association 14-and-under writing contest. Their prize is a trip, with press credentials and reporting responsibilities, to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, they overhear a blackmail threat leveled at Minnesota State University's star player. Threatened with a falsified transcript that would disqualify him and his team, Chip Graber is pressured to deliberately lose the final game against Duke. Stevie and Susan Carol become resourceful sleuths determined to save Chip and to expose the scandal. Throughout the story, famous basketball personalities make memorable guest appearances, including spirited sports analyst Tony Kornheiser and irrepressible commentator Dick Vitale. References to real players and coaches mingle, almost eerily, with the fictitious characters. Feinstein shares his extensive sports expertise, smoothly weaving into the tale a wealth of background information about NCAA regulations, tournament traditions, recruitment and eligibility issues, and gambling. Although the action on the court is vividly described, this story also breaks new ground for teens, focusing primarily on the influential role of media in promoting college basketball. Readers will enjoy the rivalry and chemistry between outspoken but insecure Stevie and savvy-beyond-her-years Susan Carol, and their spunky determination to get the scoop. Mystery fans will find enough suspense in this fast-paced narrative to keep them hooked.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.:

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