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Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

Review

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

For eighth graders Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, March Madness has never been so mad. Both kids are winners of a fourteen-and-under writing contest sponsored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). The grand prizes have won them trips to the Final Four in New Orleans. Not only will they get to watch the most thrilling college basketball games of the year, but they'll also be considered working journalists for the event. They have press credentials and are expected to report on the exciting stories of the Final Four. Little do they know, however, that they will end up at the center of the most shocking and important story of all.

At the beginning of LAST SHOT, Stevie Thomas is a wide-eyed thirteen-year-old from Pennsylvania. He already knows that he wants to be a sports journalist and has decided that the trip to the Final Four "would not be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For him, it would be a first-in-a-lifetime experience."

Stevie, a huge St. Joe's fan (the Philly team) is thrilled to see the exciting lineup of teams. There's a Big East team --- Connecticut, a Big Ten team --- Minnesota State, and Duke. Like many northern sports fans, Stevie is not on the Duke bandwagon. Upon learning that his co-winner, Susan Carol, is from North Carolina, he says, "I just hope she's not a Duke fan." And of course she is. Stevie and Susan Carol learn to put their differences aside, however, when they accidentally overhear Minnesota State's star player being blackmailed to throw the championship game.

Stevie and Susan Carol have no choice but to put together their investigative journalism skills and uncover what really is going on behind the blackmail scheme. Can they save the star basketball player? Will the championship game be fixed? The stakes are high and it will be a dangerous ride along the way. Their trip to the Final Four will be a most memorable one indeed!

LAST SHOT is John Feinstein's first children's book. The author, a political and sports reporter for the Washington Post as well as Sports Illustrated and National Sports Daily, has written many bestselling sports-related books. Feinstein does a wonderful job of mixing real-life sports characters like Tony Kornheiser, Dick Vitale and Coach K, among others, into the fictional world of LAST SHOT.

LAST SHOT is successful at combining the elements of a nonfiction sports book with a mystery novel. Readers will imagine what it's really like to be a sports reporter, but will also be pulled into the story. After all, it's hard to imagine anything more exciting than the Final Four, but the Final Four with a mystery to solve? Now that's madness.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on June 27, 2006

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery
by John Feinstein

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2006
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0553494600
  • ISBN-13: 9780553494600