Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

by John Feinstein

ages 10 and older

Readers may find themselves wondering what's fact and what's fiction in this mystery that takes place at the Final Four.

Two kids, Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, find themselves in New Orleans (with their dads) writing newspaper stories about college basketball's March Madness after winning a writing contest for kids 14 and younger.

The kids, and the contest, are fictitious, but lots of the people they meet at one of the country's biggest sporting events are real. Stevie gets to see his hero, Tony Kornheiser (of The Washington Post), scream at a hotel clerk at the end of the first chapter. Lots of other celebrities are found in the pages of this book, and Feinstein brings them to life well -- Dick Vitale can be as annoying in print as he is on TV!

But where this book really entertains is with the basketball banter between Stevie and Susan Carol. For one thing, Susan Carol is a huge Duke fan and Stevie can't stand the North Carolina team. The two quickly discover they don't have (much) time to bicker, though, when they overhear a star player being threatened -- his team needs to lose the big game, or else.

As is often the case in kid-solved mysteries, the kids are a lot smarter than the grown-ups, but there are definitely moments when it looks as if Stevie and Susan Carol may have seen their last hoops action.

This book not only takes you to the Final Four, but also into the locker rooms and the pressrooms. But if you're asking yourself Final Four WHAT?, this book isn't for you. You really do need to be a hoops fan to appreciate all the debate involving Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, not to mention the running "student-athlete" joke.

-- Tracy Grant