A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History
By Seth Berkman. (Hanover Square Press, 384 pages, $26.99.)

 

Minnesota has a long history of involvement with the Olympic Games, particularly the Winter Olympics, and it was on display in an unconventional fashion with the historic Korean women’s hockey team in the 2018 Games in Seoul.

The coach, Sarah Murray, was born in Faribault, and played for the University of Minnesota Duluth. The team’s captain, Marissa Brandt (Park Yoon-jung), who was born in South Korea, was adopted and grew up in Vadnais Heights and played at Gustavus Adolphus College. Her sister, Hannah Brandt, played for the U.S. team.

Seth Berkman expertly weaves these details and histories of the players into a captivating tale that documents disparate player histories, backgrounds and races that culminated in the historic melding of players from North and South Korea into a unified team that captured global attention as dignitaries from the north and south attended the games.

The author, himself an adopted Korean who grew up in New Jersey, provides intimate details and a sympathetic tone. The sportswriter made his first trip back to South Korea since his adoption to cover the Korean women’s team at the Olympics. How the team visited the Twin Cities and scrimmaged against regional teams, including Minnesota State University, Mankato, before the games, or taking the skyway from the hotel to play Minnesota Duluth, will be of interest to state readers.

Although the team didn’t win gold or much less a game, that it actually qualified with a team consisting of players from around the globe while fighting through adversity makes it a classic underdog tale, and Berkman’s exhaustive narrative is the definitive account of that achievement.

EDDIE CHUCULATE

Masked Prey
By John Sandford. (Putnam, 416 pages, $29.)

 

John Sandford’s “Prey” adventures usually start with a bang — literally. Typically, at least one person has been killed within the first 10 pages, with no shortage of blood yet to be spilled. But “Masked Prey” follows a radically different template. It’s not so much about violence as it is about the threat of violence.

Minnesota-based U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport is assigned to crack an extremist website that is posting pictures of prominent politicians’ children, promoting the notion that it would be possible to manipulate the government by killing a couple of the kids and then threatening everyone else. Lucas has to track down the people behind the website before somebody decides to test that theory, an assignment that grows exponentially more difficult when other extremists stumble on the site and buy into its premise.

It’s not possible for Sandford to keep the guns in their holsters for an entire novel, but fans of his Lucas Davenport books might be surprised at how little gunplay there is. The plotting here is more along the lines one might expect in Sandford’s other series involving Virgil Flowers, where the emphasis is more on detective work. But no one should mistake the lack of gunplay for an absence of tension. The portent of violence that hangs over the story is every bit as daunting as the actual stuff.

JEFF STRICKLER