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Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery    by John Feinstein order for
Last Shot
by John Feinstein
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are the proud winners of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's contest for aspiring journalists, aged fourteen and under. Steven's headliner entry was 'The Palestra - Still Rocking After 80 Years'. Susan Carol succeeded with 'Coach K - Hall of Fame Coach ... And Person'. The prize includes a flight to New Orleans to attend the Final Four collegiate basketball playoffs, with press credentials and reporting responsibilities. Their assigned escorts are journalists Bill Brill and Dick Weiss. The line-up teams of student-athletes are from Duke, Minnesota State, University of Connecticut, and Philadelphia's St. Joseph's.

When Steven and his dad arrive at the New Orleans Hyatt Regency, he muses, 'I have a feeling this is going to be the most unbelievable weekend of my life.' Little does he know what's ahead and how much spadework will be needed. While exploring the Superdome, Steven and Susan Carol overhear a conversation. Chip Graber (MSU's star player and the coach's son) is commanded by a man in a charcoal grey suit to throw Monday night's game against Duke. With witty schemes and wily techniques, the young journalists learn that the blackmailer is MSU's ethics professor Thomas Whiting, a past member of the NCAA subcommittee on gambling. Steven and Susan Carol locate Graber's hotel room. They inform Chip of what they overheard, and offer to help.

The story starts slowly as its author weaves in statistics, and famous names of players, coaches, sportswriters, announcers, and teams. It picks up momentum when Chip, Steven, and Susan Carol start working together, with unforeseen twists towards the end. Feinstein writes in simple prose, with upbeat dialogue and humor. His extensive sports and journalism background assures readers of authoritative details. Teen basketball fans and mystery readers will savor the caper, and keep Last Shot's pages turning to find out who will call the shots before the final buzzer goes off in the Superdome!

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