Monday, March 20

Final Fore by Roberta Isleib

Review by Gloria Feit


       In her welcome return in Final Fore, Cassie Burdette is preparing for her first US Open, the most prestigious tournament in women's golf, at the same time that she is trying to decide whether or not to accept an invitation to the upcoming Buick Championship, itself a wonderful testament to her abilities.  To add to these stresses, her dear friend and caddie, Laura, has just advised her that she has to bow out of caddying for her in the Open due to her father's having just suffered a stroke, which, aside from the personal aspect, obviously comes at the worst possible time.  Putting a different kind of pressure on Cassie is the fact that each of her family members, described by the author as "an unhappy mother, a runaway dad, two difficult stepparents, two teenage half-brothers, and her real brother, Charlie," who hasn't had a real conversation with her father in years, is expected to attend the tournament, which background has contributed to Cassie's self-described history of aband
onment, competition and disappointment..

       The setting is the campus of Mt. Holyoke College in Connecticut, referred to as a "rich girls' school," and one from which Julie Nothstine, a sophomore-year golfer who has befriended Cassie following the latter's panic attack on the day she arrives, graduated.  In addition, Cassie has recently been receiving strange, unsettling and sinister notes and e-mails containing veiled threats from someone who apparently doesn't want her playing in the PGA-sponsored tournament.  Among the cast of characters and ultimately potential suspects are Cassie's ex-boyfriend, Mike Callahan; her current not-quite-boyfriend, golf psychologist Joe Lancaster; her sponsor, Lloyd Pompano [who for one year is staking Cassie's expenses in exchange for 10% of her winnings, adding to Cassie's need to earn some money so she can end that obligation]; Amber Clancy, a teenage amateur golfer/phenom; Amber's caddie, Jason, who Cassie knew from her Florida college days, and her famous coach, Lucien Beccia; and assor
ted other golfers.

       The day before the start of the tournament, Amber is felled by convulsions, and there is suspicion that she was poisoned.  Her subsequent death hits Cassie particularly hard:  Amber had had a brief conversation with Cassie in which she felt her out about her well-known detecting skills, something Cassie didn't pursue, and her resultant feelings of guilt prompt her to investigate Amber's death.  The tension mounts as to both the outcome of the tournament and the identity of the killer/stalker, and the solution when it comes is a surprise.

       The fact that this reader has never played a single hole of golf didn't detract from my enjoyment of this well-written novel, and I am certain golfers will absolutely love it.  Cassie is a terrific and very human protagonist.  The book is recommended.

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