Strike Three, You’re Dead

Josh Berk. Knopf, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-375-87008-8
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.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 03/12/2013
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 250 pages - 978-0-307-93006-4
Library Binding - 250 pages - 978-0-375-97008-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-98736-6
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