Tag Archives: Basketball

Katy Munger. Better Off Dead. New York: Avon Books, 2001.

Casey Jones, Triangle-based Private Investigator and (contrarily) ex-convict, is enjoying a quiet evening at home watching NC State trounce Duke at basketball. That is, until her boyfriend Burly starts haranguing the disconsolate Blue Devils fans from their Durham apartment window. With all the ruckus, Casey almost misses the knock on her door- and may come to wish she had. Her visitor is a terrified cleaning lady, who isn’t worried for herself, but for her employer- the infamous Helen Pugh McInnes. Casey knows a little about Helen: a graduate student who accused a well-respected Duke professor of rape, she lost her case and became a community pariah. Casey comes to learn that the gentle Helen has spent the year since her day in court too afraid to leave her quiet country home, terrorized by perverse phone calls and letters from her rapist, who is clearly still at large. Even venturing onto her front porch leaves her in the throes of a major panic attack. Casey knows right away that she has to help Helen, but since Helen is viewed as a liar and a loose woman, Detective Jones must tread carefully.

Her first move is to protect Helen: Casey’s boyfriend Burly, her lovable yet flabby boss, Bobby, and Bobby’s voluptuous girlfriend and paragon of Southern charm, Fanny, as well as a host of others all take up residence in Helen’s spacious, self-induced prison. Meanwhile, the thirty-something Casey applies a liberal amount of concealer and eyeshadow in order to infiltrate Duke University itself, going undercover as a non-traditional coed. But she isn’t entirely prepared for what she finds. As usual, the case is complicated by unforeseen circumstances: a wide-eyed college boy develops a crush on the gruff Casey, and for some reason it’s more difficult than usual to determine who the rapist really is. But Casey Jones always gets her man…unless this time, he gets to her first.

Readers will be glad to know that this tightly wound narrative deals sensitively with a difficult topic while still maintaining the series’ usual sense of humor. Katy Munger’s cast of misfits, cops, and strange birds is back, with some entertaining new additions. The Duke community will be pleased to note that the author issues a strong statement in the beginning as to the very fictional content of this novel. The UNC and NC State communities will be more satisfied with Duke’s (inevitable?) loss in the opening game.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

1 Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Durham, Munger, Katy, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Mark Phialas. Who Killed 20G? Williamsburg, VA: Cherokee McGhee, 2011.

Trent Jones is a has-been M.P. with a penchant for poker and scotch, and a passion for UNC basketball. The obsession with liquor and gambling means that he’s often drunk, broke, or some combination of the two, and that his best friend, Frank Williams, has to bail him out more often than not. Frank, a successful sports and entertainment agent, lives in New York City, a world away from the North Carolina haunts they used to frequent together. However, Frank keeps a vacation home at nearby Myrtle Beach, and after his latest slump, Trent wants a place to recuperate (or just more scotch, which Frank has in spades). Frank is angry about Trent’s downward spiral, but unable to deny his friend anything. However, rest and refreshment are last on the list for the wayward Tar Heels fan. One evening, out having a drink, Trent encounters Kenny “20G” Kincaid, the basketball head coach for the fictional Wellington University, located just north of Charlotte. Having recently lost $500 thanks to 20G’s losing streak, Trent decides to have a little word with Coach about his technique, a tactic that quickly turns into a fistfight. Trent wakes up the next morning hungover and sore with the intention of moving on. But he can’t; sometime during the night, someone murdered Coach 20G and Trent is suspect #1.

Things get worse when Trent receives a phone call from New York City: Frank Williams has also been murdered. These two homicides, unrelated at first glance, plunge Trent into a dangerous game of sleuthing and revenge that takes him to Arizona, New York City, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and even out to sea. To make matters even more unbearable for him, the action occurs during the NCAA play-offs, and Trent is convinced that this year the Tar Heels are going all the way. Can Jones find and eliminate his friend’s murderer, uncover what happened to 20G, and protect himself while still watching the Heels achieve victory? Find out in Phialas’ debut novel, which is hopefully the first of many. Trent Jones is a gruff, troubled, but highly likable and entertaining anti-hero; readers, especially fellow Tar Heels, will root for him from the start to the final buzzer.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

2 Comments

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Phialas, Mark, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Burgess Leonard. Phantom of the Foul-Lines. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1952.

A new college basketball season is just around the corner, so it’s an appropriate time to add this novel to your reading list.

Mickey Barton was the captain of his high school basketball team–a team that won the state championship and a national invitational tournament.  That should make him a hot prospect for the premier basketball colleges in his state.  But Mickey has a problem–he is only 5′ 6″.  The big time schools rebuff him, and his best friend and teammate 6′ 10″ Hub Duncan trades his friendship with Mickey for a chance to play for an elite coach.  Mickey, whose dad is dead, needs a scholarship to attend college.  Luckily, his high school coach becomes the basketball coach at Greyling Tech, the perennial cellar dweller in the conference.  Mickey joins Coach Royce there.  Despite the ragtag nature of the team and bad behavior by the coach’s son, they go on to glory.

Mickey’s college, Grayling Tech, is thought to be Wake Forest, but I could not identify any of the schools in the conference.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1950-1959, 1952, Children & Young Adults, Leonard, Burgess