Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein

This book has been on my “to be read” pile since I picked it up at a Scholastic Warehouse sale last May. To be honest, I think I didn’t pick it up before now because the cover art is a little boring and muted. Yes, I admit it- I tend to judge books by their covers!

In Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery, Steve and Susan, 13 year old aspiring sports writers, win a national sportswriting contest. As a part of their prize, they are invited to cover the Final Four as a press. This is a dream come true for both teens, who get to work as press for the duration of the event; attending closed practices, press conferences, and locker room interviews. While exploring the Superdome, they manage to get lost in an out-of-the-way part of the dome. They are excited when they see the media darlings, MSU, arrive through a back entrance. However, their excitement turns to anger and fear when they overhear a mysterious man threatening Chip Graber, star of the MSU team. The book follows their adventures as they try to expose the blackmailers who are trying to force Chip to throw the championship game.

I really enjoyed this book. I can picture the student this book will appeal to- there are more than a handful in my own class! Athletic students or sports fans will eat this book up. The book is full of real sports writers and commentators, including Dick Vitale. The story is peppered with ESPN references, NCAA guidelines, and ripped from the headlines subplots. I think this story would appeal to those who love sports stories and those who love mysteries. I have to say, I liked this book more than the Mike Lupica books I have read- the sports just seemed more “real”. I also like that Susan and Steve are in two more books by Feinstein, called “Vanishing Act: Mystery at the US Open” and “Cover-up: Mystery at the Super Bowl“. Series always hook my more reluctant readers and I am thrilled to find a good series! I am a little apprehensive about how realistic the series will be (come on, how many scandals and mysteries can a duo of teen sports writers stumble on at major sporting events?), but I will be sure to give them a shot.