Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U. S. Open

Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U. S. Open

4.5 41
by John Feinstein

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New York Times bestselling author John Feinstein goes behind closed doors at the US Open . . .
When teen sportswriters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson score press passes to the U.S. Open they expect drama. They expect blistering serves, smashed returns and fierce competition. What they don't expect is kidnapping.



New York Times bestselling author John Feinstein goes behind closed doors at the US Open . . .
When teen sportswriters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson score press passes to the U.S. Open they expect drama. They expect blistering serves, smashed returns and fierce competition. What they don't expect is kidnapping.

Russian tennis phenom Nadia Symanova was supposed to win it all, but she never even made it onto the court. Now the whole stadium is in an uproar trying to find her. Can Stevie and Susan Carol get to Nadia before it's too late?

"Feinstein expertly combines tennis action, life in the Big Apple, media coverage, and a realistic plot to explore the fierce competition of tennis." —Chicago Sun-Times

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Feinstein expertly combines tennis action, life in the Big Apple, media coverage, and a realistic plot to explore the fierce competition of tennis.” –Chicago Sun-Times
Middle school sports hounds Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are back in another suspenseful romp. This time their reporters' beat is the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Our young reporters are just settling into the excitement when something inconceivable happens: Just minutes before her second-round match, young Russian tennis phenom Natalia Makarova simply vanishes. Her unexplained disappearance generates a full-court press of media speculation: Did the star player flip out -- or has she been kidnapped? Needless to say, with a keen nose for news, our fledgling journalists are on the story.
Publishers Weekly
The teen reporters who uncovered scandal at college basketball's Final Four in Last Shot wangle new assignments to cover the U.S. Open tennis championships. Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson find themselves pulled into investigating the disappearance of Nadia Symanova, a Russian with a powerful forehand and supermodel looks. Despite the onslaught of media that converges on Queens, it takes the two 13-year-olds to untangle the mystery, and uncover the corruption fueling it. Sportswriter and adult novelist Feinstein (A Season on the Brink) delivers a name-dropping, insider account of professional tennis politics-TV announcer Bud Collins is a character-and does not pull his punches. "Agents are responsible for most of the ills of tennis, and the ills of tennis are endless," his Collins says-and those ills apparently include tennis prodigies who forfeit their education to pursue million-dollar shoe contracts, and players who shriek when striking the ball. Sports agents come under the harshest scrutiny. There may be a lot of commentary here, but the tension continually escalates, and ends with a hint of romance between the protagonists that suggests at least one more adventure for Susan Carol and Stevie. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Nancy Zachary
Rogue reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson, whom readers admired in Last Shot (Knopf, 2005/VOYA February 2005), are back in a marvelous new adventure that exposes the world of tennis. Sports fans first, their writing skills have developed in sports journalism, and here Stevie and Susan Carol are given another chance to hone their talents, acquiring press credentials and moving to New York City for the annual U.S. Open. Conveniently Susan Carol's Uncle Brendan has become a sports agent and invites both teens to stay with him on Riverside Drive. Their mentor, Bobby Kelleher, offers this awesome opportunity and affords the proper guidance and protection for these young super sleuths to meet and mix with the players and the media. Actual players, game officials, and newscasters make cameo appearances, and tennis fans will enjoy reading about Roddick, Nadel, and the Williams sisters as well as Bud Collins, Mary Carillo, and Mike Lupica. Authentic tennis jargon, sports agencies, and the competitive nature of the pro-circuit are accurately depicted around the kidnapping of a fictitious teen Russian player, Nadia Symanova. The draw is set, and the schedule of play cannot be altered. Enter Evelyn Rubin, another up-and-coming teen player who makes an outstanding showing and befriends our reporters. Conniving adults with mercenary goals are the catalyst for this whodunit, as the plot takes some unbelievable twists before justice wins out. Recommend this title to all teens because these detectives demonstrate brave friendships and a sparkle of romance, too.
Children's Literature
John Feinstein tells a very good story. Although it is not always probable or even laudable when thirteen-year olds take cabs and subways and prowl around New York City alone (and no, it is not their hometown), Feinstein successfully weaves international intrigue, danger, and adolescent crushes into his first young adult novel. As a well-respected journalist and author of numerous nonfiction sports books, Feinstein brings a high degree of credibility to the background information he includes about both professional tennis and sports journalism. The two young protagonists learn to maneuver their way quite successfully through the often ugly world of agents, commercial sponsorships, and tournaments. The story is slow to take off and often includes enough extraneous detail to read like a play-by-play account, but this title will still be a good choice for readers who thrive on tennis, novels of suspense, or dreams of being a great sportswriter. 2006, Alfred A. Knopf, Ages 10 to 16.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In Last Shot (Knopf, 2005), 13-year-old amateur sportswriters Susan Carol Anderson and Stevie Thomas uncovered a plot to throw a championship game in the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. Now they meet once again, this time in New York City to help cover the U.S. Open Tennis tournaments. Susan Carol's uncle, a new agent for an up-and-coming female tennis player, lives in Manhattan and offers them a place to stay. When the Russian tennis sweetheart Nadia Symanova is kidnapped right before her first match, Stevie begins to suspect that Susan Carol's uncle is involved. The mystery maintains a genuine level of suspense throughout the story. Many superfluous figures are introduced, and it can be difficult to keep them straight, especially when they are referred to by first name in one chapter and last name in another. Although the main characters are predictable, the use of kid-friendly terminology, contemporary personalities in the tennis world, and factual information about the game may appeal to savvy tennis fans.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are back. Having foiled a plot at the NCAA Final Four tournament in Last Shot (2005), they are in New York City for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, and once again there's trouble. Rising superstar Nadia Symanova disappears, setting off a media frenzy and embroiling the young reporters in a conspiracy involving two kidnappings, a mugging, the FBI, ruined reputations and a bit of romance. The story puts readers behind the scenes, rubbing shoulders with celebrity tennis greats and popular television journalists. Veteran sportswriter Feinstein serves a winner here, deftly blending sports, mystery and social commentary. The prose is taut, the dialogue snappy, and layers of intrigue are laid down like expert drop shots. The mystery will hold readers to the very end, culminating in an exciting match and surprise arrests. A natural pairing with Mike Lupica's Travel Team (2004) and Heat (April 2006). (Fiction. 10+)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Steve Thomas & Susan Carol Anderson Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.70(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

“Okay,” Kelleher said, pausing just outside the press room entrance. “We need a strategy of some kind. I think we should split up . . .”

He broke off in mid-sentence as a middle-aged man with graying hair ducked out of the media center and made a quick turn away from them.

“Arlen!” Kelleher said, heading toward the man. “Arlen, hang on a second!”

The man half turned, still walking and waved a hand as if to say, go away. “Not now Bobby. I can’t talk. We’re organizing a press conference. We’ll let you know what’s going on in a while.”

He had slowed down enough that Kelleher was able to catch up to him. Stevie and Susan Carol followed at what they hoped was a discreet distance.

“In a while?” Kelleher said. “Come on, Arlen give me a break. Don’t give me that press conference crap. What happened out there. Where the hell is Symanova?”

The man stopped and turned to face Kelleher. Stevie noticed he was quite pale. He looked around as if to be sure no one could hear him and dropped his voice to a whisper so that Stevie, standing right behind Kelleher could barely hear.

“We don’t know,” he said.

For a second, Kelleher just stared at him. “What do you mean you don’t know? How can you not know? Wasn’t she on her way over to Armstrong with Walsh?”

Yes she was!” Arlen said, clearly exasperated, still looking around as if he was afraid someone would hear him. “They were on their way over there and she disappeared.”

“Disappeared!” Kelleher shouted.

“Bobby please,” Arlen hissed, signaling Kelleher to keep his voice down. “Yes, she disappeared. You know what it’s like out there between the stadiums. We had four security guys surrounding the two players. A group of people cut across their path headed for the food court. The security guys got jostled. Walsh and her two guys kept going, no one bumped them. By the time Symanovs guys got untangled she was gone.”

“But how is that possible. . .”

Arlen held up his hand. “For crying out loud Bobby, if we knew, she wouldn’t be missing would she? We’ve sealed all the exits to the park but that’s the problem–we’re right on the edge of a park. There are plenty of ways to get off the property without walking through an exit.” He looked around again. “I’ve got to go. There’s a meeting in about two minutes. I’ve told you everything I know up to this minute.”

“Okay, okay,” Kelleher said. “Can I quote you on this stuff?”

Arlen smiled wanly. “At this point, that’s the least of my worries.” He turned and walked down the hallway.

“Who was that?” Stevie asked.

“Arlen Kanterian,” Kelleher said. “He’s the CEO of professional tennis for the U.S. Tennis Association. It means he’s in charge of the tournament. He talks to me because his brother Harry’s a friend of mine.” He took a deep breath.

“Okay, this story is officially huge. Beyond huge. We’ve got a big leg up on people right now, let’s do something with it.”

“Like what?” Susan Carol said, for once looking as baffled as Stevie felt.

Kelleher took a deep breath. “Good question,” he said. Then he snapped his fingers. “Listen Susan Carol, you can get into the junior girls locker room.”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“I’ll give you the short version,” Kelleher said. “There are so many girls under eighteen in the event that they have a separate locker room that the media isn’t allowed into because the parents freak out about men seeing their daughters half-dressed. Since female reporters are allowed in the men’s locker room, male reporters are allowed into the women’s. But not where there are women under the age of eighteen. It’s been a huge controversy for years because all the players freak out about us being in the locker room. The point is the junior locker room door’s not even marked and they usually don’t even have a guard on it because they don’t want to call attention to it. You take your press credential off, you can probably walk in there like you’re a player.”

“How do you know where it is?” Susan Carol said.

“Carillo showed me. Come on, let’s start walking. I’ll show you where it is. Meantime, Stevie, I want you in the players lounge. Once you’re past the guard, take your credential off and just walk around and listen. I’m going to the men’s locker room. We’ll meet back here in thirty minutes.”

“What exactly are we listening for?” Stevie asked as they started to walk down the long hallway.
Kelleher shook his head. “I have no idea Stevie,” he said. “But people will be talking and someone must know something.”

“And what do I do if I manage to get in?” Susan Carol said. “Won’t the other players know I’m a fraud right away?

“Sit in front of an empty locker as if it’s yours and listen. There are so many different events going on here at once that no one knows everybody. You never know when you’re going to be in the right place at the right time. If we’re in three different places, our chances are three times as good of hearing something helpful.”

“But what do we think is going on here?” Stevie asked.

“That,” Kelleher said, “is the multi-million dollar question.”

Meet the Author

John Feinstein is the author of many bestselling sports books, including A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. Feinstein worked for the Washington Post as both a political and sports reporter for more than ten years and continues to contribute articles. He is a regular commentator for National Public Radio and Sporting News Radio and an essayist for CBS Sports. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Potomac, MD and Shelter Island, NY. The author lives in Potomac, MD.

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Vanishing Act 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
J-Brown More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I had already read the first book of this series, Last Shot, and I loved it. When I realized the second book was about tennis it was a bit of a turn off because I am not a big tennis fanatic or anything unlike Last Shot, which was a book about basketball, which is one of my favorite sports. I gave the book a chance, and it turned out a heck of a lot better than I thought it would be. It had a lot of action and excitement. There are times in the book that I did think it just kind of rambled on through the story, but overall something exciting was always going on. In the end of the book something totally unexpected happens as Stevie and Susan Carol find out the truth on the kidnapping over the young Russian tennis star Nadia Symanova (not Natilia Makarova, which is what it says on the summary of the book on this website). This book is a great read following up Last Shot and continuing on Stevie and Susan Carol's journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vanishing act is a very good book. I play tennis, and mystery books are my favorite, so this book is definetly in my top 10. Kind of hard to understand if you don't know tennis scoring, but it's a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book, with a good plot, but it lacked a lot of feeling. It wasn't very descriptive, and I found it hard to trudge through the less exciting parts. I was very impressed with how he took a sport that isn't very interesting, and put more of a mystery spin on it.
percyjacksonluver More than 1 year ago
i had to read this book for summer reading and i just finished it in a day. it was really good. i enjoyed it a lot more than some of my other summer reading books over the years. it had a lot of informational tennis stuff and had good relationships between characters. it was also a thrilling mystery that held your attention until the last page. i recommend it to those in 5th grade to 7th grade.
benjaminrudy More than 1 year ago
This was a great read that i really enjoyed. Another class act book by feinstien. Great buy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book just as I enjoyed the 1st one'Last Shot', it took you in complete suspense and was totally unpredictable, though it was wwaayyy below my reading level, it was a fun read. Susan Carol and Stevie are in another adventure, this time more important things are at stake.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is the best book of all time anyone who like sports and mystery should read this
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. It was very suspenseful and a great mystery. I applaud John Feinstein on this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would totally read this if you like books about sports. It is also for the mystery reader - an genuinely well written book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should read this book
basketball_12 More than 1 year ago
I read The Vanishing Act and i really enjoyed it. I had a hard time putting the book down because it was so interesting. The were so many searches, clues, and mysteries I always wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed reading John Feinstein's books. The first book I read was The Last Shot. I really got into it. After i finished it I wanted to read more! Thats when I decided to buy The Vanishing Act. After reading The Vanishing Act I read The Change-Up. I finished that a couple of weeks ago. Now, I am reading The Cover-Up. I love John Feinstein's books and really hope he writes more. I would recommend John Feinstein's book to many people. Mostly people who enjoy mysteries. I have passed on the books I have read onto my friends and they are now reading and enjoying his books as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U.S. Open, I thought (since I LOVE tennis and it is not often to find a good tennis book), that it was going to be just another tennis book. The author of this book, John Feinstein, makes the book consist of not only tennis techniques, but also involves a mystery. The book first introduces the main characters, Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol, as typical teenagers in the modern world, New York City. Susan Carol. The main player in the story is a sixteen year old girl named Nadia Symanova. In the story, right before her match, she is kidnapped. Unfortunately, she was taken in a very large crowd and no one even realized what happened until after the fact. Now Stevie and Susan Carol take it upon themselves to find her before her time runs out and she is forced to forfeit her match. But these are no ordinary kidnappers. They will do anything to get what they want. They even try and hurt Stevie when him and Susan Carol get close to finding out whom they really are. This book is full of suspense, drama and not to mention, it is a page turner. Once you start reading this book, you can¿t stop. Each chapter gives ¿what will happen next?¿ moments. While I was reading this book, I was late to class because I sat down and HAD to finish the last chapter. Other than being a fantastic mystery novel, this book also gives examples of what tennis is like. This book is one of those books that you will want to read over and over again. I would recommend this book to readers that are in middle school and older. This is because even though the book is easy to read, it is also quite lengthy. I would also recommend this book to people who like tennis and like mysteries. I wouldn¿t recommend this book On April 26th 2008, I went to a CSI Presentation. It was about what to do during a crime scene. Trooper Orth gave the presentation. He talked about what to do when there is a crime committed. He let all of us know that wherever you are. Whatever the crime is, get all of the information from the scene. ¿First thing you do is document the scene.¿ ¿Trooper Orth ¿CSI Presentation.¿ New York State Police Department. Roy C. Ketcham, Wappingers Falls, New York. 26 April 2008.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nadia Symanova, the biggest name in women¿s tennis, has just been kidnapped en route to a match with hundreds of spectators watching. Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are at the U.S. Open while this happens. They are among the many spectators, who are waiting to watch Nadia Symanova play her first round. It seems as though only Stevie and Susan Carol can find her with the help of Bobby Kelleher, Tamara Mearns, Bud Collins, and a few other people along the way. This book, Vanishing Act, is filled with adventure, suspense, and one big mystery. That¿s why I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys these kinds of books. Stevie met many people that wanted to help him and some that didn¿t. When Susan Carol and Stevie needed to get into the U.S. Open Club, they met a man named Mark Preston who got them `player family¿ credentials. Bobby Kelleher told Stevie and Susan Carol to go and talk to Tom Ross, who, according to Bobby Kelleher, knew every rumor there was in tennis. As for the people that wanted him to drop the case, Stevie was riding back on the subway and two guys, massive and intimidating, pushed him and told him to drop it, then they punched him really hard in the stomach. Instead of just snooping around for clues, Stevie and Susan Carol were able to watch some of the matches. They watched Nick Nocera play Thomas Johansson even though they needed to ask Tom Ross some questions. Also, they watched Evelyn Rubin play against Maggie Maleeva, and win. Most important, they watched Evelyn Rubin play Nadia Symanova at the very end of the case. Through out the book, there were many parts that were suspenseful. When Nadia Symanova didn¿t show up at the match when she was supposed to, it was very suspenseful because you didn¿t know what happened to her or if she was ok. When Uncle Brendan Gibson, Susan Carol¿s uncle, disappeared, you really wouldn¿t know what to make of it. Also, when Evelyn Rubin received a note in her locker just before the big match, you didn¿t know to be scared for her and scared for Uncle Brendan. It was very surprising when Nadia Symanova, the world¿s use-to-be biggest name in women¿s tennis, was led away in handcuffs after the big match. This book is very good when it comes to mystery, adventure, a little bit of suspense, and a good sport. John Feinstein did a fantastic job writing this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventures, mysteries, or tennis. E. Gray
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