The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin
The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin immediately drew my attention because I love basketball. Couple that with mystery and history, and the book had me turning page after page to follow the suspense. Almost any audience can relate to Alphin’s writing because the multiple genres can reach so many interests.
The prologue sets the stage for the mystery by telling of the murders of Amanda and Cory Daine, and their mother, Caroline. The thoughts of Amanda Daine are revealed just minutes before she and her mother and brother are murdered by an unknown killer. Earlier that day, Amanda was mad at her boyfriend Brian, but as she is being shot, she reconsiders her anger toward Brian for not letting her and her little brother Cory play basketball with him and his friends.
The story continues from there in Brian’s point of view. Brian sees a man in a gray sweat suit running away from the scene of the crime. Gray fibers are also found at the scene. Michael Daine, Amanda’s father, is charged with the murder of his family. In a confrontation in a public restroom at the courthouse, Brian discovers information that reveals Michael Daine is not the murderer. Brian is told to stay quiet about the investigation, or the man will kill him. Brian does not know the identity of the man, but recognizes his voice. That’s when Brian has to make a big decision. Does he risk his life and say something? Or does he keep his mouth shut and let Michael Daine rot in prison?
A theme of the book is to learn about history so it does not have to repeat itself, and it is brought to light by Brian’s history teacher. The Michael Daine Case is paralleled with the 1913 Leo Frank Case. A history project assigned to Brian and his partner Todd Pollian helps Brian see the similarities between the cases. Leo Frank was accused of murdering a young teenage girl by the name of May Phagan. Although Leo Frank was innocent, he and only two other people were sure of that: 14-year-old Alonzo Mann, who witnessed the actual murder, and Jim Conley, the murderer who told Mann to keep quiet about what really happened. Because Brian sees himself in Alonzo Mann’s place in this trial, he has an important decision to make. He has to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. He knows that he can change at least three people’s futures by telling the judge what he has to say, but it’s his choice to do so or not.
Brian is the captain of his high school basketball team, the Willisford Warriors. Throughout the story, it shows the drama of any high school. The Perfect Shot may seem like a mystery novel, but it incorporates real life problems. It’s hard to focus on the fact that there’s actually a mystery being solved as an underlying problem. Brian’s best friend Julius, a great basketball player without a brain, gets arrested and his warm personality changes completely. He then messes with the team’s sense of teamwork, and tries to play as a one-man show. That is where I relate with the book, because drama like that happens with every team, and it will cost you a game or two; sometimes, it will even cost you a best friend, or, as in the case in this book, potentially your life.
Because this book ties in so many themes, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I was able to relate to it through basketball, but there are many more possible ways to relate. The book’s genre is realistic fiction. I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you’re not a big reader, it’s easy to understand and it’s relevant to many people. I give this book two thumbs up. Elaine Marie Alphin can please any crowd, and she knows how to write about real life drama.