My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pre-read reaction: The author’s a sportswriter, it’s about the Olympics, and it’s a mystery? I think I might enjoy this. 🙂
Post-read reaction: This was very well written. Loved Susan Carol and Stevie’s characters and how they toggle between the swimming competition and media tours that athletes travel on. It felt quite vivid and immersed me in the overarching journey. The story has a very decent mystery involving corrupt agents and race fixing, not to mention a few surprises with a nice cast of side characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this and I’m a little sad I didn’t read this sooner.
“Rush for the Gold” was a wonderful sport related mystery involving a young prodigy swimmer named Susan Carol Anderson, who in previous adventures in the “Final Four Mysteries”, had served with her boyfriend Stevie Thomas as junior level reporters for sports events. Susan Carol finds herself in a thrilling scenario when she makes qualifying times enough to make the London Olympics in 2012. Yet, there are problems with this, what with her minister father taking advice from shady, money grubbing agents and neglecting his daughters wishes on every turn, even to the point where he allows the agents to substitute her long time coach (Ed), specify specific details on what she wears and the press she gets (and this does a really good job at portraying sexism of female athletes), and even limiting time that she spends with Stevie among other other friends in substitution for practice.
Suffice to say, Susan Carol doesn’t like it one bit, and she lets people know it in her rather Southern drawl. 🙂
John Feinstein uses his sportswriting background to a wonderful degree in this book. I felt like I was right there in the competition, getting the play by play details among the swimming matches, and it was fun to see some cameo apperances from actual figures such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and even media figures like Bob Costas, Ann Curry and Matt Laurer, among others in the NBC lineup. You can tell this is fiction and taking place in an alternative scenario to the actual Olympic games, but it touches home on so many issues within the sports realm, and does so in a realistic way. I also liked the overarching mystery in that it builds up to a scandal that you’re not necessarily sure where it happens, but it builds things up to light where you see the players in that game and how the characters are able to detect it.
In the end, I was very intrigued with this novel and I really loved watching both Susan Carol and Stevie’s interactions through the narrative. I would certainly read more of this series in the future.
Overall score: 4/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House BYFR.