Friday, November 16, 2012

On the Trail of YA Sports Mysteries

Lately I'm reading a lot about sports, since my work in progress involves athletes. Most of what I'm reading right now is nonfiction, as I try to understand the psychology of athletes as well as the nature of sports crimes. The world of pro sports has lots of money, and where there's money, there's bound to be crime. This intrigues me. And even at development and amateur levels, sports are filled with conflict. Sports are rich narrative territory to explore for mystery writers.

That said, most of the sports crime novels I've found are for adults. So I'm on the hunt for great sports mysteries for young readers.

I've been slowly making my way through all of John Feinstein's books, which are generally categorized as middle grade -- though occasionally I see the more recent ones in the young adult sections, as the duo of sleuths grow older.

I'm really enjoying Feinstein's books; each one focuses on a different sport, from football to baseball to (this year) Olympic swimming. Sometimes I'm not interested in the sport (football -- I know, sorry!) but the mystery (a doping scandal) pulls me in. Sometimes I'm not interested in the mystery -- at first -- but the sport (swimming, tennis) pulls me in. Across the series, I like that Feinstein's sleuths are talented young sportswriters with media connections, and they are able to get close to all kinds of sports personalities and stories. It's a wonderful premise.

But I'm looking for slightly older sleuths and other voices too.

So. What other sports mysteries are there for YA readers?

There's Chasing Alliecat, a mountain biking mystery by Rebecca Fjelland Davis. I loved this book. It's a total thrill ride, about three teens who, on a bike ride, find the body of a priest in the woods -- badly beaten, near death -- and one of the friends disappears shortly after.The mystery revolves around Allie, a feisty mountain bike racer, and her connection to the priest. Some fantastic biking scenes move the mystery along at a fast clip.

Are there more YA sports mysteries out there? Or should I stop reading for awhile and get busy exercising? (One side effect of all this sports reading is the nagging sensation that I need to get off the couch!)

Readers, help me out! If you know of some titles, please leave them in the comments section! And if you DON'T know of any, I'm curious, what sports would you enjoy reading about? Why aren't there more sports mysteries for teens -- many of whom are actively involved in sports?

Please weigh in -- then give me ten push-ups!

PS - There's still time to enter our giveaway! Click here to check out this week's Interrogation Room interview with Kimberly Reid and enter to win signed paperbacks of MY OWN WORST FRENEMY and CREEPING WITH THE ENEMY!)


Diana Renn grew up in Seattle and now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son. TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin, published June 2012) is her first novel.


  1. 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    My sports mystery for kids 8-12, "Something's Missing," was published in late October. It's on and but not out in Kindle yet. The story is the first in the series and the sport is hockey and the next will be soccer. The children, two boys and a girl, are ages 10, 12, and 13, and play on different hockey teams. They will meet again in the summer and will solve another mystery together. I think I will concentrate more on the mystery next time, but the personal issues are always important to me and they each have a problem of their own with which they are dealing. Tell me how I can get your help with a review or a comment. I've been writing and editing forever but this my first book.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Maureen, and for the link to your website -- your sports mysteries sound great! Love the premise of your series. That's a nice point you make about kids dealing with personal issues as well as the mystery -- I think a lot of us MG/YA mystery writers are working to find that balance, and trying to show a character's personal growth alongside the work of sleuthing. (Discovery of the mystery + self-discovery). I have a few more thoughts for you and will contact you via your website.

  2. Jennifer Bradbury's SHIFT is another "bicycling mystery," and a terrific read. It's also rare in the YA world in that it takes place partially during freshman year of college. I adored it.

    And next week I may have a book-ish announcement that ties in with this very topic... ;)

    1. Oh I love SHIFT - read it a few years ago - how could I forget to add that? Thanks for the reminder!

      Sarah, I'm in suspense! Come back with your book-ish announcement please!!


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