The biggest thing that's ever happened to the Long Island town of South Shore is its high-school basketball team, blessed with two players of national caliber and the white-hot attention of the media. Not even the death of the team's manager can dampen the enthusiasm for long, but then a kid on the high school paper begins to hear things-stories of brutalities at a team retreat, of hazing that went over the line . . . of murder. But no one wants to know, and at every step, the ranks close against him-the school, the parents, the police, the town fathers. Soon the threats begin, then the physical intimidation, and even after he recruits a fallen-from-grace city newsman named Ben Mitchell to help him, the incidents get uglier-and more dangerous.
"You always kill for a big story," Mitchell tells him. "You don't get killed for one." But it may already be too late. Things may have gone too far.
For years, such top thriller writers as Harlan Coben, Elmore Leonard, and Carl Hiaasen have praised Lupica for his tightly wound plots, rich characters, and dialogue "that is alone worth the price" (Leonard). Now Lupica joins their ranks. Too Far is a major novel of suspense-and a book that makes us all look in our own backyards.
Most of New York Daily News columnist and ESPN commentator Lupica's work, fiction (Red Zone, etc.) and nonfiction (Summer of '98, etc.), is grounded in the world of sports. This thriller/mystery tells of a high school basketball team whose winning season is threatened by the murder of its manager, Bobby Ferraro, and allegations of sadistic initiation rites. Former sportswriter and television commentator Ben Mitchell has quit the business and retired to self-imposed exile in South Fork, his Long Island hometown, after one of his columns exposed a coach's lies about his war record, which led to the coach's suicide. Ben spends his days reading newspapers, watching television and endlessly rehashing his responsibility for the coach's death. When novice sportswriter Sam Perry, a high school senior, shows up with what looks like a sensational story, Ben finds his old reporting juices flowing again. Soon the two of them are crashing around town investigating Ferraro's murder, angering the citizens of South Fork, who want nothing to interfere with their team's climb to the state championship. Real-life news reports of out-of-control hazing by high school sports teams give Lupica's tale a ripped-from-the-headlines thrill, but the slow pace and predictable plot may tire readers not fascinated by the sports angle.
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October 31, 2005
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