Say It Ain't So
A Lenny & the Mikes Mystery by Josh Berk
Review: When their school's starting baseball catcher gets thrown off the team for stealing a phone, Mike takes over his spot in the line-up while Lenny moves into the announcers booth and Other Mike is, well, being Other Mike, in Say It Ain't So, the second mystery in this middle grade level series by Josh Berk.
Eighth grader Davis Gannett says he doesn't know how the stolen phone ended up in his locker, but the coach decides to bench him anyway, giving Mike the job of catching their star pitcher, Hunter Ashwell. And their first outing together is a great one. As Lenny is announcing the game from a new booth — a modified shed, really — Hunter pitches and Mike catches a perfect game at home. The second game is an away game, and rules require Hunter not to start. But when the starting pitcher gets in trouble, Hunter comes in for the save! The team is 2-0! The third game, another away game, could not be any different. Hunter starts and gives up nine runs on twelve hits in the first inning and a third. Lenny thinks that someone may be stealing Mike's signs to Hunter and passing them to the batter. But who? And how?
Say It Ain't So is about equal parts middle grade antics, baseball, and mystery. Actually two mysteries: If Davis didn't steal the phone, who did and why? And is someone stealing signals between Mike and Hunter to win games? The first mystery is largely left an open question for much of the book, and even the second mystery takes a long time to get going, with Lenny not even taking the case until the mid-point. In between is a lot of humorous commentary from Lenny — the book is written from his point of view — and a considerable amount of baseball talk. Of the two mysteries, the phone theft is probably the closest to a "case" while also testing the boys' friendship in a positive way, but is given very little page time. The stolen signs mystery is more related to the baseball theme but isn't nearly as strong, either in development and execution. It should be added, however, that the events in the opening chapter are cleverly tied into the outcome in a way that is completely and wonderfully unexpected. Overall, Say It Ain't So is another enjoyable entry in this series, one that will likely keep its intended audience entertained throughout.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Say It Ain't So for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Strike Three You're Dead
Knopf (Hardcover), March 2013
ISBN-13: 9780375870088; ISBN-10: 0375870083
Location(s) referenced in Say It Ain't So: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
— ♦ —
Say It Ain't So by Josh Berk — A Lenny & the Mikes Mystery
Publication Date: March 2014
List Price: $16.99
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites