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Strike Three, You're Dead

Strike Three, You're Dead

4.5 8
by Josh Berk

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An Edgar Award Finalist

Lenny Norbeck is a die-hard baseball lover. Unfortunately, he's no player himself (according to him, he's "the worst there ever was.") But he'd make a heck of an announcer. He gets a lot of practice sitting with his best friends, Mike and Other Mike, watching Phillies games from their lawn couch—a sweet outdoor TV arrangement


An Edgar Award Finalist

Lenny Norbeck is a die-hard baseball lover. Unfortunately, he's no player himself (according to him, he's "the worst there ever was.") But he'd make a heck of an announcer. He gets a lot of practice sitting with his best friends, Mike and Other Mike, watching Phillies games from their lawn couch—a sweet outdoor TV arrangement Mike's dad hooked them up with. Being a real announcer is his dream, and he gets his chance to prove himself when he enters an "Armchair Announcer" contest and wins. The prize: he gets to be the broadcaster, live, for one inning at a real Phillies game.

The game goes very wrong, though. Before Lenny gets to do his inning, a young, promising pitcher fresh out of the minors literally drops dead on the mound. The official verdict is that he died of a heart attack, but Lenny has a hunch there's something more going on. So he and the Mikes set out to investigate. The suspects are many, and though the trio barks up the wrong tree a few times, they are always right on the heels of the real killer. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Berk (Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator) returns with an entertaining mystery that, while somewhat predictable, captures the spirit and enthusiasm of baseball fandom. Twelve-year-old Lenny, with the help of his buddies Mike and Other Mike, enters and wins a contest to guest-announce a Philadelphia Phillies game. When the hot rookie pitcher drops dead, the kids suspect that it’s more than a previously undetected heart condition. They join another local sports fan and begin investigating the crime, helped by occasional assistance from Lenny’s cardiologist parents, while meeting their hero, flashy catcher Ramon Famosa, and other players in the process. Baseball aficionados will appreciate all the trivia Berk works into the story, with references to famous players and Phillies history scattered throughout. The wisecracking interplay between the boys is a strong point, though the solution to the mystery is really never in doubt, and the silly deus ex machina elements during the climax do the story no favors. Still, readers should enjoy both the baseball storyline and goofy but realistic characters. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ted Malawer, Upstart Crow Literary. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Magi Evans
Lenny Norbeck loves baseball, even though he cannot throw or hit a ball to save his life. But he loves to "announce" the plays while watching games on television, so he is thrilled when he wins a contest to announce one inning at a Philadelphia Phillies game. He even meets the catcher, Ramon Famosa. But then the new pitcher suddenly drops dead on the mound, under what Lenny believes are suspicious circumstances. Could it really be murder? Lenny and his two friends, Mike and Other Mike, begin the investigation. Soon they are joined by the librarian's niece, Maria, who helps them unmask Famosa's real identity (and eliminate him as a suspect). Suspicion falls on various quirky characters as the plot thickens, but gradually the investigators zero in on the real killer—who, of course, threatens to end their lives before they can reveal who it is. They are saved in the end by a surprise hero that only the most alert reader will expect, and even in this dire circumstance the author manages to inject some levity. The self-deprecating humor in Lenny's first-person narration, and his longing for attention from his busy cardiologist parents, lend authenticity to his voice. A generous dose of preadolescent potty humor provides snickers for young male readers. Lenny and Mike may be obsessed with baseball, but Other Mike's love of computers and video games broadens the appeal for readers who are not into sports. This mystery scores a home run. Reviewer: Magi Evans
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Lenny loves baseball and dreams of being an announcer someday (because he's certainly never going to be a player). It's just a dream until his two best friends, Mike and Other Mike, convince him to enter the Phillies' Armchair Announcer contest. On the night of the big game-the biggest opportunity of Lenny's life-an up-and-coming player drops dead on the mound. It's written off as a fluke thing, but Lenny and his friends find it suspicious. Everyone who was in the stadium that night is a suspect, and anything could be a lead in this fast-paced murder mystery. The plot is fairly straightforward and the mystery is not difficult to solve, but the characters are engaging enough to carry the plot. Sports fans will enjoy the humor and will attempt to crack the case alongside the intrepid investigators. A good choice for most collections, particularly those needing more mysteries.—Brandy Danner, Wilmington Memorial Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old Lenny Norbeck thought the contest to win a chance to broadcast one inning of a Phillies game would be fun. But it is murder. Literally. The Armchair Announcer contest should have been a dream come true for Lenny. He's "the boy with the golden voice," who's always narrating his life: "And Lenny Norbeck puts ANOTHER piece of pepperoni into his mouth. The crowd goes wild! Ahhhh-ahhhh-ahhh!" Maybe becoming a baseball announcer would be his thing. He's not especially smart or athletic or handsome, but he can do this. And he does. He wins the contest, and on July 29th, he's in the announcer's booth. But it all goes downhill quickly. The Phillies' pitcher collapses on the mound and dies, and Lenny never gets to do any announcing. He does have a mystery to solve, though. Was it a heart attack? Murder? Though the story is too scattered and, at times, implausible to be an effectively developed mystery, it is a fast-paced tale, an ode to the pleasures of the game--the dreams, the disappointments, and the trials and tribulations of being a fan. An enjoyable baseball story that young fans will follow all the way to the bottom of the ninth. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Lenny & the Mikes Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

JOSH BERK is the author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin and Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children, and is a children's services librarian at the Allentown Public Library.

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Strike Three, You're Dead 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
THEMAN27 More than 1 year ago
Very Funny! Great Baseball mystery, Must Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book and it is amazing. Im only ten and i loved it Its such a great thinking novel. I keep wondering, and i could not quit reading!!! - i hope this is a great review <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book was vaery interesting YOU NEDE TO REED THIS BOOK IT IS AWSOME may 10 of 2014
Anonymous 3 months ago
I bought this book at my bookfair and i thought it was absolutely fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its ok but ist not the best ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main character loves the Phillies. He not good at it, but, he got to announce an inning of the Phillies. The new pitcher dies in the game. And he can't announce the game. I'm only on page 93.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first, i couldn't find any thing to read. Picked this book up thinking it was stupid because of the title. Turned out to be the best book ever! :~)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dumb book pbbb