Teaming up again to deliver a second tennis thriller, Martina Navratilova and Liz Nickles introduce their sophomore effort, Breaking Point. Reappearing in this new mystery is ex-tennis pro, current physical therapist and incidental detective, Jordan Myles. Reprising her accomplishments in The Total Zone, Jordan's work in a high tech sports clinic brings her into inevitable contiguity with a mystery she is uniquely qualified to solve. With the assistance of Noel Fisher, a.k.a. "The Fish," an unlikely-looking private investigator, Jordan probes the reasons behind the startling murder at the French Open of Catherine Richie, a young computer whiz and persona assistant to Jimmy Bennett, owner of a hot new talent agency representing top tennis stars. Central to the solution of the mystery is Catherine's role in Bennett's burgeoning business, along with the actual nature of the business itself. Not until the end of the novel does Jordan piece together the essentials, several times narrowly escaping death in the process.
The subplot, which is of more psychological interest than the main narrative of Breaking Point, revolves around Jordan's resolution of her failures, both personal and professional. She deals with her early retirement from tennis after a debilitating accident and a professional career that fell short of its early promise. Here Navratilova and Nickles explore concerns that are universal and pertinent to tennis superstars like Jordan and, indeed, Martina herself. While Jordan's constant mental replays of her failures border at times on the obsessional, her compulsion to understand them, to get them right - to succeed - are certainly comprehensible, and humanly so. Readers can clearly relate to this aspect of the detective.
Of additional human interest is Breaking Point's focus on the personally competitive nature of professional tennis, on and off the court. The fundamental and long-standing impact of this consuming competition is manifested in Jordan's rivalry with tennis darling Kelly Kendall, even though both have long since retired from the circuit. Breaking Point provides a resolution to this personal feud, albeit in a plot twist of dubious credibility. With this resolution comes a hint of Jordan's psychological liberation from the obsessive loops of the past, as well as her potential for growth in ensuing novels.
While the plot of Breaking Point at times strains credulity, particularly during its forays into cybermystery, the novel's psychological elements and insight into the inner workings of the tennis world render it worth at least a cursory read. Tennis aficionados, no doubt equipped to identify not-so-thinly veiled references to notable players on the tennis tour, will find Breaking Point rewarding. Even non-fans stand to learn a great deal about a world unto itself, the microcosm of professional tennis.
Lesbian and gay readers, however, would most likely appreciate seeing Martina provide a more extensive representation of gay and lesbian characters on the tour. Lesbian relationships and sex are peculiarly absent from Breaking Point, and this is perhaps the novel's most profound mystery. Hopefully, Navratilova and Nickles will solve it in the next installment.
Maxwell, Lynne. "Breaking Point." Lambda Book Report July 1996: 30+. General OneFile. Web. 19 Mar. 2012.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A18627544
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