Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics
John Feinstein
Random House

Apparently this is a “Final Four Mystery,” number 6 to be exact. I read this particular one first, and, if it’s like the earlier ones in this series, I’ve made a nice little discovery!

Mysteries are often a touch formulaic, but that’s part of their charm. We know the kid sleuths will solve the mystery and save the day (remember Nancy Drew?). We know there will be a tad bit of danger, some intrigue, an action-heavy plot, and some slimy bad guys. This is what makes these books fun. And Rush for the Gold delivers nicely. The “story” qualities in mysteries are usually not as heavily crafted; these aren’t books to savor–they’re books to swim through, enjoying the fast pace.

Speaking of swimming, this particular Final Four Mystery hovers over the swimming events of the upcoming London 2012 Olympics. Readers of this series will recognize the two main characters, Susan Carol and Steve, but this book focuses on Susan Carol’s swim career–which has taken off, to put it mildly. Both kids are in high school, both want to be sports writers and do some freelance sports writing in their spare time, but only one is athletic enough to make it to the Olympics. And she’s hot. (OK, I’m paraphrasing; she’s supposed to be a 6-foot-tall knockout with a North Carolina drawl and “The Smile.”) And smarmy agents are hopping all over themselves, trying to sign her up for big-time sponsorships.

I liked the “feel” of this book–clean without being too starched (a couple of 3rd commandment violations sprinkled in, some kissing referred to but not described, etc.). Susan Carol’s dad is a minister, but in this book he ends up getting swayed by the promise of money. There is some great insight in this book into the lure of fame and wealth, the reality behind that lure, and the lengths to which some people will go to get rich. I will be watching the Olympics this summer with a fresh eye, noting the sponsor’s baseball caps, shoes, and other paraphernalia adorning the young Olympians as they play harder than they ever have before. I also have a better insight into the swimming events!

Recommended for 6th-9th grade sports enthusiasts, mystery lovers, etc. (Both boys and girls will enjoy these)

Rush for the Gold hits store shelves today; snap it up while it’s current!

Other titles in the series (in order):
Last Shot (Mystery at the Final Four)
Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U. S. Open
Cover-Up: Mystery at the Superbowl
Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series
The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game

Cover image from goodreads; ARC from netgalley.