The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano
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A chilling message left on an answering machine warns that one of the world’s top male figure skaters will be dead before the end of the Olympics. A disgraced reporter has one chance to save a life and resurrect his career by going undercover as a trainer in order to infiltrate the backstage world of figure skating. What he discovers hidden behind the smiles and sequins, is a chilling and dangerously competitive world filled with corruption and scandal.
If you thought the Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan story was the biggest scandal in figure skating history, you are in for a surprise. It is just one of the many shocking and tragic scandals to rock the world of figure skating. Behind the glitz and glamour in the rink is a world filled with dark and disturbing secrets, corruption, greed, addiction, abuse, racism, homophobia, athletes at the breaking point, and countless suspects capable of murder in their quest for the gold medal.
I always loved watching the Olympics, especially figure skating and gymnastics, but ever since I watched an investigative documentary on the USA Gymnastics (the national governing body of the United States), revealing the toxic culture, the corruption, and manipulation, of its athletics, I have been turned off watching those events.
This book which covers U.S. figure skating may be fiction, but Luciano’s experience as a sports reporter and her articles and foreword included in the book, have given me the same foreboding as the gymnastics program. Is nothing sacred anymore?
The story starts out with an anonymous threat to kill an Olympic ice skater and a down and out investigative reporter, Brody Yates, is sent undercover to the National Figure Skating Championship and then the Olympics to get the scoop and flush out the killer. What Brody finds out is the heinous exploitation of the athletes by the system and the eroding family and personal relationships caused by years and years of extremely hard work and training to win while the athletes lose their sense of self-worth and happiness in the bargain. The athletes learn pretty quickly that if they don’t work hard enough, there is always somebody else to take their place.
The mystery is well done because you have to find out who the target is first and then who intends to take them out. There are many characters throughout the story told in their POVs including athletes, their coaches, their trainers, and Brody the undercover reporter. Sometimes it is hard to follow, but the author does a great job keeping my interest in a sport I knew little about behind the scenes. The tragic part is that the story exposes the lives of the characters which are heartbreaking and lonely,
Overall, this is a unique and captivating mystery set in the figure skating world filled with angst, love, competition, and corruption. If you would like to learn about the scandalous part of figure skating with an intriguing mystery added in, give this book a try.
Thank you to Ms. Luciano for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Former New York Times sports reporter, Lisa Luciano has a unique perspective into the icy world of competitive figure skating, which she writes about in her debut novel, The Chosen Ones. The book won multiple awards in advance of its release in May 2020 including Best Sports Fiction in the NYC Big Books Competition. Luciano was also a television producer and director who received national recognition for excellence in educational programming. A teacher with 40 years of experience, Luciano taught English, TV Production, Technology, and Digital Literacy and most recently worked as a Library Media Specialist. She currently resides in Connecticut.