Author: John Feinstein
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2012)
Description: Bestselling sportswriter and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another sports mystery featuring Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson—this one set at the summer Olympics in London. In this book, Susan Carol isn't a reporter—she's an Olympian, competing as a swimmer at her first Olympic games. Stevie is both proud and envious of her athletic prowess. And he's worried by the agents and sponsors and media all wanting to get up close and personal with Susan Carol. But the more disturbing question becomes—how far might they go to ensure that America's newest Olympic darling wins gold?
Sports novels abound, but Feinstein's books are all stars. They combine sports action, high-stakes mysteries, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of big-time sporting events.
My Thoughts: This was an interesting mystery story that takes a closer look at the lives of elite young athletes. Susan Carol Anderson is an elite swimmer. When the story starts she is reliving the World Championships in Shanghai instead of listening to the agents from the Lightning Fast Agency who are trying to get her to sign a contact with them. All of a sudden she has become a celebrity and, since she is a very pretty young woman, agencies are lining up to represent her. Her father decides to sign with Lightning Fast.
Susan Carol is suddenly under even more pressure as she gets ready for the Olympics. She is constantly trying to balance the demands of her agents and the needs of her coach. And her father is too dazzled by the thought of the huge amount of money that she might be able to make to pay attention to what Susan Carol really needs. Luckily, Susan Carol is a level-headed young woman who has friends who really do want the best for her.
Her best friend, boyfriend, and reporting partner, Steve Thomas, is watching as all this happens to his friend. Instead of working together to find and write the stories as they did in five previous mysteries, now Susan Carol is the story. Stevie has the advantage of being able to see the whole situation from outside and begins to get suspicious about just how far the agents will go to make Susan Carol a money-making star for them.
I liked the close-up view of the inside world of young elite athletes. It was interesting to get a look at the backstage activities like sponsors, agents, and endorsements. I liked that the book combined real people, like Bob Costas, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and even the Queen of England, with the fictional stars of this story. It added a lot of realism.
This story spans the time from the World Championships, through the Olympic Trials, all the way to the London Olympics. It is packed with intrigue, slimy characters doing sneaky things, and good friends trying to protect their friend. I recommend it to both mystery lovers and lovers of sports stories. Now, I need to catch up on the earlier adventures of Stevie and Susan Carol because I want to see how they developed their great friendship. Luckily, my school media center has all the previous books!
"Your dad's right," Susie said. "All we really want to know is if any of thise makes sense to you and if not, what would make sense to you. Our job is to make sure you're comfortable with all this."I received this ARC from Knopf through the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here.
In that case, Susan Carol thought, please take your folders, and let me go back to being a fifteen-year-old girl who loves to swim and loves to be a sportswriter. She thought of something one of her heroes, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, had written: "When you're growing up, you train to be an athlete. Then you train to be a coach. but you never train to be a celebrity."