“Shadow Games” by Jim Lester
Basketball, college, fiction, gambling, young adult
June 20, 2018
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Danny McCall could be considered a basketball junkie. His hard work at the game paid off in a basketball scholarship to St. Patrick’s College in New Wexford, New Jersey. However, he and a teammate, Ronnie Knox, risk everything to aid gamblers in a point shaving scheme. The story of Danny, Ronnie and the sports editor of the college paper, K.C. Donovan is told in this quick-reading, fast moving novel by Jim Lester.
Set in the early 1990’s, the story is mostly about Danny and his love for the game. His parents have the mindset of the hippie culture of the 1960’s and their home and finances show their disdain for capitalism. Therefore, he is careful to ensure that he stays on a straight path to keep his scholarship despite little playing time at point guard his freshman year and the prospect of little more in his sophomore year when St. Patrick’s recruits a prized point guard. His teammate Knox is a high-scoring ultra-talented player who gets involved in gambling in order to get paid plenty of money and talks Danny into joining the scheme.
This puts Danny into a pickle as he and K.C. are not only both basketball junkies, they become a couple. However, Danny grows distant from her as he gets more involved into the gambling. It affects his game as well as his scholarship. The ups and downs of all three of these main characters are told from their viewpoints alternately throughout the book, making the story balanced. This is one of the few novels I have read from multiple points of view that not only was easy to follow but also balanced in how much each character contributed to the story.
The basketball scenes and descriptions are excellent as any hoops fan will enjoy reading about either Knox’s cocky attitude while scoring almost at will or McCall’s tenacity and behind the back passes that seem to get crisper with each game. The reader will feel like they are on the court with these two and the rest of the St. Patrick’s team during game passages.
While the ending did complete the story of these three characters, it left me wanting to know more about some of the other lesser characters fared. That said, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book from beginning to end. It is one that readers who enjoy basketball, young adult or college life stories or just a good coming of age story should consider adding to their libraries.
I wish to thank the author for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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