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The Cinderella Coyotes of State University are in the Final Four, poised to win the NCAA National Championship in basketball—the culmination of March Madness. For Marla Conners, she’s proud of her husband Neal, and his achievement of coaching a collegiate team to the pinnacle of his career and the ultimate victory for his team. Yet, Marla’s idyllic life is about to be viciously attacked and torn apart by a different madness—her husband’s reputation ruined, a university disgraced, and she finds herself on trial accused of first-degree murder.
The Coach’s Wife is rife with spine-tingling suspense, conspiracy, deceit, and murder, sizzling and seductive passion, right down to the last second buzzer-beating heroics. This is also a candid and vivid behind-the-scenes portrait of Division One college basketball, university politics, money and corruption, and all the lives that are blessed and ruined by it all.
Read an Excerpt
Another deafening roar exploded from the coliseum, and when it did Marla threw down her partially smoked cigarette and ground it into the polished tile floor with the toe of her shoe. Quickly she reached for another cigarette from the opened pack in her small red handbag. She lit it, sucked the smoke into her mouth, held her breath, coughed, and then slowly released it. Marla didn’t smoke, but when she paced up and down the hallways of basketball coliseums, puffing on cigarettes seemed appropriate. It gave her something to do with her hands, and it helped keep her sane.
“God, how I hate this.” Gale Simmons, the gray-haired woman pacing in the same direction as Marla, was married to one of the assistant coaches at Piedmont State. She, along with several other women—also wives of coaches, some of them wives of players—were known as the hall walkers. They were the women who met on a regular but unscheduled basis the last two minutes of every game, pacing the halls, smoking, or pretending to in Marla’s case, and trying to give each other encouragement. Unable to watch the most crucial time of the game—that last two minutes—they paced in heart-pounding agony, listening to the fans erupt in cheers or boos, and to the announcer scream out the play-by-play over the public address system.
It didn’t matter which team they supported. The bond they shared went beyond the game and winning or losing. It was after the game that most mattered. If their team won, it meant going through the torture one more time, but at least their husbands would be happy. If their team lost, it meant their husbands would go through weeks of depression and as their wives they would have to put up with an impenetrable wall of silence broken only by an occasional negative outburst—usually directed toward them. Each of the hall walkers had experienced it. And it was that experience more than any other that cemented the friendship between them.
With thirty seconds to go, the score is 76 all. This is a hot one, folks. Let’s see what the Seawolf pack is going to do. Sydney Rob makes an inbound pass into the back court to Jerry March—the clock is moving, folks. Jerry lobs the ball back over to Rob. Rob passes it over to Miller in the right court.
Interception by Darrell Washington! Holy cow, sports fans! The Seawolf’s Sydney Rob loses the ball to the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest has the ball. Washington bringing it down court. Fifteen seconds on the clock.
Folks I have to admit that I wasn’t going to review this book at first. But considering that I LOVE college basketball during the tournament, I just had to read it. Go Blue Devils! I know, they didn’t make it this year but I’m a HUGE Coach K fan. Anyways…this book. Wow!
First off, it is a very fast-paced, grab you by the throat kind of book. From the opening pages until the end, it never lets up. Ms. Casey writes what she knows and it shows. Her devotion to detail and imagery are top-notch. The hall walkers, especially Gale, are a true treasure. I can’t even imagine what they go through during a regular-season much less during the tourney. I’d be a basketcase and chain-smoking. Speaking of Gale, she is one true friend. I was afraid that she would turn out to be bad but she is the backbone of the story for Marla. I can’t emphasize the importance of Marla’s relationship with Gale and the pearls of wisdom that Gale gives her.
I loved Marla and Neal. Never mind the age gap because these two really love and care for each other. They are each other’s rocks. Marla tries to protect Neal but in the end, he never lets her go. Their relationship is based on true love and respect for each other. The opening scene in the book reminded me of an old black and white movie where the lead characters have a clandestine meeting that we, as readers/viewers, are just watching the stage set for the relationship throughout the book/movie. Brilliant storytelling and imagery. I know that I keep bringing up the imagery in the book but Ms. Casey uses it to its fullest potential. I truly felt like I was at the games, in the courtroom, the cottage, etc. She made me feel like I was in the book, just trying to keep up.
The suspense part of the book is just intense. We get a little bit of Marla’s background and without saying too much, it is the catalysis for the rest of the book. Ms. Casey had me wondering most of the book what was going to happen and then the why. I literally didn’t have a clue until all was revealed and believe me, she did leave a bit for everyone to chew on in the end. However, I figured it out and I was completely satisfied with it. *wink wink* I’m trying not to spoil it but trust me, it is superb.
I could go on about the book but you just really need to read it. You don’t even have to like sports to be completely drawn into the book and the characters. Ms. Casey just takes you on a fantastic ride that once its over, you may just have to go back and ride it again. I did and I loved it even more.
About the Author:
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her three cats who adopted her: Homer, a southern bobtail; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.