Move over Tonya Harding, there’s a new figure-skating menace in town!
Brody Yates, a disgraced investigative reporter, is surprised to be summoned to the offices of Sam Jacobs, his former boss and friend, who plays a cryptic voicemail message in which the life of a prominent yet unknown male figure skater is threatened during the upcoming Olympics. Since no other male reporter will touch the story, Jacobs offers the 40-year-old white man a chance to break the case by sending him undercover to infiltrate the Olympic figure skating team by posing as a trainer. This is New York Times sportswriter Luciano’s first novel, and the work’s awkwardly employed metaphors and sentence structure are what might be expected from a freshman debut. All of the requisite ingredients for a standard pot-boiling drama/mystery are present, from the handsome yet damaged and down-on-his-luck protagonist desperately seeking redemption to secret love trysts, ageing stars, and jealous fiancees, but the elements feel stale because the narrative whizzes too quickly through plot points to build either suspense or true reader investment in the characters. Though still entertaining, the novel violates the cardinal rule of writing, which is to show rather than tell. Despite some stumbling, however, the author clearly knows the worlds of figure skating and journalism, which the story makes evident. Given Yates’ advanced age, the real mystery is why this book is being positioned for the teen market.
A breezy, disposable read that will be more at home in adult sections than teen. (Fiction. 14-18)