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Strike three, you're dead by Josh Berk
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Strike three, you're dead

by Josh Berk

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333338,203 (3.42)None
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I hadn't expected to like this book - I have absolutely no interest in sports - but I picked it up off my backlog to read because I was looking for more middle grade mysteries (in expectation of the return of 80 5th graders next year, all clamoring for mysteries). To my surprise, I found it funny, engrossing, realistic, and just all-around fun.

Lenny and his two best friend, Mike and Other Mike, are looking forward to a leisurely summer and Lenny enters an "armchair announcer" contest for the Phillies, never expecting to win. But he does! Lenny is living the dream, meeting his heroes, getting ready to actually announce an inning...when a promising young baseball player drops dead. What really happened? Lenny and the Mikes, as well as their new friend Maria, are determined to find out.

There's plenty of sports information for the die-hard fan, but just as much mystery and humor for any other reader included as well. The characterization of the Lenny and his friends is spot-on hilarious, from Lenny's traumatic last baseball game to his more athletic friend Mike, and Other Mike's obsession with fantasy and computers. Maria is a great addition to the team with funny and awkward interactions between the kids as they try to figure out how to relate to this girl who's just as big a fan as them and is turning out to be nothing like they expected.

There's a great mystery, not too graphic but definitely not too little-kids-ish for the audience. There's awkward preteen boys interrogating librarians. There are mustaches. There's a tough girl who isn't ashamed of liking baseball. There's interesting things you can learn in books, like safecracking. And, of course, lots of baseball trivia.

Verdict: The sports mysteries I bought for teens have been gathering dust on the shelf, but this one will definitely be a popular choice for middle school readers who are interested in sports or mysteries. I am delighted to see it's going to be a series and the sequel, Say it ain't so! will be published next week.

ISBN: 9780375870088; Published 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Mar 9, 2014 |
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 more suspicious than that. Everyone who was in the stadium that night is a suspect and anything could be a lead in this fast-paced murder mystery.

A funny mystery for middle-school boys, particularly those interested in baseball. It's not a terribly difficult mystery to crack or a particularly sophisticated one, but the characters are engaging enough to carry the plot. A good choice for the kids who only want to read sports books when the Mysteries Book Report comes around.
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
Middle school sleuths will love this fun mystery. Fast paced and funny...you'll love it. ( )
  LaneLiterati | Mar 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375870083, Hardcover)

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. . . . 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:27:53 -0400)

"Lenny Norbeck and his friends The Mikes set out to investigate the suspicious death of a young pitcher at a Phillies game"--

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