Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery

4.2 99
by John Feinstein
     
 

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New York Times bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein exposes the real “March Madness”—behind the scenes at the Final Four basketball tournament.
 
When Stevie wins a writing contest for aspiring sports journalists, his prize is a press pass to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, he

Overview

New York Times bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein exposes the real “March Madness”—behind the scenes at the Final Four basketball tournament.
 
When Stevie wins a writing contest for aspiring sports journalists, his prize is a press pass to the Final Four in New Orleans. While exploring the Superdome, he overhears a plot to throw the championship game. With the help of fellow contest winner Susan Carol, Stevie has just 48 hours to figure out who is blackmailing one of the star players . . . and why.
 
John Feinstein has been praised as “the best writer of sports books in America today” (The Boston Globe), and he proves it again in this fast-paced novel.
 
“A page-turning thriller and a basketball junkie’s bonanza.” —USA Today

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Last Shot is a brisk novel set in the madness of the NCAA’s Final Four. Exceptionally knowledgeable about the college basketball world, Feinstein has a fine time lampooning broadcaster Dick Vitale and the bureaucrats who populate the NCAA itself. The blackmailing plot that unfolds over the course of Final Four weekend threatens a student-athlete who isn’t a student, implicates an ethics professor with no ethics, and otherwise introduces to young readers the sleaze beneath the glitter of college basketball’s biggest show. Remarkably, Feinstein pokes holes in the illusions without diminishing the excitement of the games themselves as seen through the eyes of two eighth-grade reporters. He writes as if he’s having a fine time at the keyboard, and the result will entertain not only young readers, but the oldsters looking over their shoulders as well.” —Boston Globe

“Score! That’s exactly what author John Feinstein does with this mystery.”—Dallas Morning News

“You’ll feel as if you have a courtside seat at the SuperDome. Last Shot is Feinstein’s first entry into fiction for young people, and it’s an impressive one. The story is intriguing, the dialogue snappy and the finale exciting.” —Bookpage

For eighth-grade reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, winning the national writing contest would have been prize enough. When they receive their all-access tickets to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, they are understandably gleeful. Their euphoria comes down a few notches, however, when they overhear a coach pressuring a player to throw a key game. In the March Madness environment, the two young scribes don't know whether they have blundered into the biggest scoop of a lifetime or what threatens to become a near-death experience! Slam-dunk excitement.
Publishers Weekly
Two teenage sportswriters try to uncover a blackmail scheme at the NCAA Final Four. "Young basketball fans will most appreciate the caper, but mystery buffs will also turn these pages eagerly," according to PW. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Eighth-grade winners of a national writing contest, Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, become all-access teen reporters to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament held in New Orleans. After mingling with sportswriters, television personality Dick Vitale (awesome, baby!), and legendary Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the wide-eyed teens wander about the massive Superdome. Outside the Minnesota State team locker room, they overhear a grey-haired man tell star Chip Graber to make sure he chokes against Duke or else. Horrified that the future NBA player is being forced to throw the championship game, the intrepid teens spring to action. Using their wits and circumventing NCAA rules (refreshingly, Susan Carol knows her hoops and is an assertive leader), the cub reporters bypass security and confront Chip, offering to help him escape the blackmail plot. As a web of betrayal is unraveled, the trio realizes no one can be trusted, and even Chip is unsure who is actually pulling the strings about his illegal transcripts and who will cash in after the fix. This sports journalist's first young adult novel is set for publication just before March Madness 2005, the story's fast-moving pace will please basketball junkies. Mature readers might not buy into self-assured thirteen-year-olds pulling off brazen schemes, but how the teens outwit bumbling authority figures will appeal to the middle school crowd. Many red herrings and a vast array of adult characters popping up throughout the story perhaps makes this mystery too intricate for reluctant readers, but the insider's view Final Four basketball atmosphere is, well . . . awesome, baby! VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Willappeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Knopf, 256p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Rollie Welch
KLIATT
To quote the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, September 2005: Steve Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are teenagers who win a journalism contest. Their prize is a trip to the Final Four collegiate basketball championship series in New Orleans, and an opportunity to play sports reporters and write about the event. As they become more comfortable with their mini-celebrity status, they also become creatively bolder and gain access to places and persons usually off-limits to the public. During one of these forays, they overhear a conversation involving a star basketball player and a point-shaving scheme. Thus begins an adventure that will prove far more dangerous than they anticipated. Feinstein, a political and sports writer for the Washington Post, also includes real sports figures: writers, announcers, coaches and players. YAs, especially those interested in college sports, will definitely enjoy this. Never playing down to his audience, Feinstein provides plenty of surprises and plot twists to keep everybody entertained and guessing. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Random House, Yearling, 251p., $6.50.. Ages 12 to 18.
—Miles Klein
Kirkus Reviews
When Stevie Thomas wins a sports writing contest and gets to cover the Final Four college basketball championship in New Orleans, he knows it's going to be the most unbelievable weekend of his life. And unbelievable it is, but in unexpected ways. Amidst the circus atmosphere at the Superdome-with the Blue Devils, Huskies, Coach K, Dick Vitale, and the clamor of hawkers, scalpers, and the best sportswriters in America-Stevie and his co-winner Susan Carol overhear a plot to throw the championship game. Veteran sportswriter Feinstein uses simple prose, lively dialogue, and authentic details of an event he knows well to recreate the pageantry of college basketball's big show. No little-guy-overcoming-the-odds story, this is a tale of celebrity, big business, and corruption as witnessed by two eager and innocent fledgling reporters who must decide what to do with their unexpected knowledge. A real treat for basketball fans young and old. (Fiction. 10+)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553494600
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
06/27/2006
Series:
Steve Thomas & Susan Carol Anderson Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
102,220
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.65(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from chapter 5 of Last Shot by John Feinstein

“Nothing here,” Susan Carol said. “I guess we–” She stopped in mid-sentence. “Hey, look who’s here.”

She pointed across the dark, open area to the outside door. Stevie could see a group of young men in purple-and-white sweats coming through the doorway. “Straight down this hall to the end and turn right gentlemen,” someone they couldn’t see was saying. “Your locker room is the first one you come to on your right.”

“As if they can’t read the signs,” Stevie said.

“He must have forgotten that they’re student-athletes,” Susan Carol said.

Stevie laughed. He hated to admit it, but she was kind of funny.

“Well,” she said. “Should we head–”

She stopped in mid-sentence again. Stevie turned and saw one final purple-and-white suited player walk through the doorway, peering around as if to make sure no one was there. Stevie recognized the floppy blond hair right away. It was Chip Graber. Right behind him was a man in a charcoal gray suit who was also looking around in a suspicious way. Instinctively, Stevie took Susan Carol’s arm and stepped back so they were hidden behind some rolled up Astroturf.

Graber and the charcoal suit finally seemed satisfied they were alone, then walked towards the loading dock until they were almost directly below Stevie and Susan Carol–who were both frozen with surprise and curiosity.

“Okay, Chip, we’ve got about two minutes to get this straight before the press conference,” the suit said. “You can’t get cold feet now.”

“I never had warm feet,” Chip Graber answered in a stage whisper, still plenty loud enough for Stevie and Susan Carol to hear. “What if I won’t do it?”

“Then the team gets stripped of all its wins and your father gets fired. We’ve been through this. . . .”

There was a long silence. Stevie wondered if perhaps the conversation had ended, but there were no signs of movement below. Susan Carol started to open her mouth to say something, but he put a finger to his lips to indicate she should stay silent.

Just when Stevie thought he was wrong, he heard Graber’s voice again. “This is unbelievable.”

“Hey, Chip, the world’s a cold place sometimes. Cooperate and you’ll be a millionaire in a couple of months. Your dad will get a big contract extension for making the Final Four. Quit whining, do what you need to do, and we’ll all walk away happy.”

“But what if we lose Saturday? There’s no guarantee we’ll win that game. Why does it have to be Monday?”

“That’s not something you need to worry about. You just play your butt off against St. Joe’s and choke against Duke. We’ll take care of the rest.”

“I’ll get you for this. All of you.”

“Please. You don’t even know who we are. And if you try anything with me, the roof will fall in on you and your dad. Now let’s go. You’ve got a press conference.”

This time they could hear footsteps walking away. Stevie and Susan Carol stood stock still for a moment looking at one another.

“What did we just hear?” she asked finally.

“Well, unless I’m crazy, we just heard the best player in the country being blackmailed to throw the championship game.”

“Yeah, that’s what I heard too. But he has to win tomorrow. Isn’t that weird? I don’t know very much about gambling, but if someone is trying to make a lot of money by betting against Minnesota State, why wait until Monday?”

“That’s what Graber asked. There’s got to be a reason why it has to be Monday. And he said he had to lose to Duke on Monday. How’s he know Duke will win tomorrow?”

For the first time since they had met that morning, Stevie thought Susan Carol looked lost. “What do we do?” she asked.

Stevie shook his head. “I don’t know. Tell someone?”

“But who?” she asked. “Who’d believe us?”

“Good question,” he said. “I barely believe us. Man, I wanted a story no one else had, but this is insane. Let’s get out of here. It’s spooky.”

She didn’t argue.

As they opened the doors that led back to the hallway and the bright lights hit Stevie’s eyes, he felt like he was leaving a movie. But there was no leaving. Now he and Susan Carol were part of the movie.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Last Shot is a brisk novel set in the madness of the NCAA’s Final Four. Exceptionally knowledgeable about the college basketball world, Feinstein has a fine time lampooning broadcaster Dick Vitale and the bureaucrats who populate the NCAA itself. The blackmailing plot that unfolds over the course of Final Four weekend threatens a student-athlete who isn’t a student, implicates an ethics professor with no ethics, and otherwise introduces to young readers the sleaze beneath the glitter of college basketball’s biggest show. Remarkably, Feinstein pokes holes in the illusions without diminishing the excitement of the games themselves as seen through the eyes of two eighth-grade reporters. He writes as if he’s having a fine time at the keyboard, and the result will entertain not only young readers, but the oldsters looking over their shoulders as well.” —Boston Globe

“Score! That’s exactly what author John Feinstein does with this mystery.”—Dallas Morning News

“You’ll feel as if you have a courtside seat at the SuperDome. Last Shot is Feinstein’s first entry into fiction for young people, and it’s an impressive one. The story is intriguing, the dialogue snappy and the finale exciting.” —Bookpage

Meet the Author

JOHN FEINSTEIN is the author of many bestselling books, including A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. His books for young readers offer a winning combination of sports, action, and intrigue, with Last Shot receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best young adult mystery of the year. He lives in Potomac, Maryland, and Shelter Island, New York, with his family.

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