Strike Three You're Dead
A Lenny & the Mikes Mystery by Josh Berk
Review: 12-year-old Lenny Norbeck wins a contest to be the Armchair Announcer for an upcoming Phillies game, only to be upstaged on the day of his debut by the sudden death during the first inning of the team's pitcher in Strike Three You're Dead, the first book in a series to feature Lenny and his two friends Mike and Other Mike by Josh Berk.
R. J. Weathers was pitching his first major league game of his career, and as Lenny relates …
[H]e was terrible. He threw everything but strikes. Walks, wild pitches, singles, and doubles. He hit a guy in the foot. He hit a guy in the shoulder. He hit a guy in the front row. He threw a pitch that landed closer to me in the announcer's booth than to the catcher. He hit a guy on the the Giants (we were not playing the Giants — they were in California, about three thousand miles away). Okay, slight exaggeration, but his pitches were just absolutely awful. The umpire didn't even bother to say "Ball" on a few of them. He just laughed. Loudly.
And then Weathers collapses on the mound. Dead. Lenny never does get his chance to call an inning as the game is immediately suspended. Like everyone else, Lenny and the Mikes are puzzled by what caused Weathers to die, but Lenny might have an inside track on finding out. His father is a cardiologist and knows the staff at the hospital where Weathers was taken. The report: No signs of drugs, no signs of trauma, no signs of anything. Definitely weird. Definitely suspicious.
After eliminating one obvious suspect, obvious to Lenny and the Mikes that is, Lenny remembers something his dad said, and thwack, he knows who killed the young pitcher. "Solving a mystery was just like understanding a baseball play. Follow the ball. Third base to second base to first base. One, two, three. You're out."
Strike Three You're Dead is an incredibly entertaining book, one that should greatly appeal middle school readers. And the mystery is cleverly devised, too. (To illustrate how strong the murder mystery is here, if structured a little differently, it is easy to see how the storyline could be adapted for an adult crime novel.) Lenny's narration is replete with funny lines interspersed with lots of baseball trivia, and the situations he finds himself him are more humorous than not. A terrific start to this series, readers will be looking forward to Lenny and the Mikes' next case.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of Strike Three You're Dead for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator
Knopf (Hardcover), March 2012
ISBN-13: 9780375857010; ISBN-10: 037585701X
Location(s) referenced in Strike Three You're Dead: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Strike Three You're Dead by Josh Berk — A Lenny & the Mikes Mystery
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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