THE CHAMPION MAKER
A genuine thriller
Nick Vance is a world-class runner whose Olympic dreams were simply shattered by the
Moscow boycott and his wife's suicide. Years later, Nick is working as a sports writer in a job
with no future when he discovers Stanley "Bullet" Gardner, a high school runner with boundless
raw talent. Nick becomes the young man's coach. But when his adolescent protege
unexpectedly fails a drug test, Nick sets out to restore his runner's eligibility for the Olympic
Games. Helped along by a Senator, a sports lawyer, and a psychic teenager, Nick uncovers a
shocking conspiracy having to do with the new science of genetic manipulation that has
implications far beyond the sports arena! Gene enhancement is a very real possibility in the
relatively short term future, and with the sports industry's problems with steroids and other
chemical enhancements, can gene therapy based enhancements be far behind? In The
Champion Maker, author Kevin Joseph has created a genuine thriller whose basic concept
could well be tomorrow's headlines. Highly recommended reading, especially for sports
-Midwest Book Review
Kevin Joseph's novel The Champion Maker (2005) offers us a fictional glimpse into the world of
gene enhancement in sports. It gives us a way to imagine the opportunities and problems of
this technology and anticipate some of the moral choices before us. It is a good place to start
our journey into the world of gene modification and enhancement. . . . [I]t serves as an
engaging diversion for the beach or airplane . . . . It adds to the debate about what kinds of
genetic modifications we are prepared to permit in athletics -- or human life generally.
-Excerpted from Designer Babies, by Dartmouth Professor Ronald Green
A genetic engineering case comes to court after the fastest man on earth fails a routine
Sr. Associate Reviewer Narayan Radhakrishnan writes:
The first thought that went through my mind as I finished reading The Champion Maker was:
“Hey, why hasn't anybody thought of this plot sooner? It's truly one of the key issues that
should have been written about at least a decade ago.”
That said The Champion Maker -- the debut work by Kevin Joseph -- the pseudonym of a
former lawyer who wishes to remain unknown -- is one grand read - it's fiction totally rooted in
The world of sports now means fame, business & big, big money. & each sportsman, each
athlete dreams of competing & winning in International events. & sometimes the lure inveigles
some athletes to take banned substances or untested drugs to gain that extra potential. But
what would happen, if by genetic engineering... or rather genetic mis-engineering, we're able to
create hordes of sportsmen who are truly “the perfect athlete”? They will be champions no
doubt... but will they really be “human”, or should they be considered something else? It is in
this background that The Champion Maker is best enjoyed and savored.
Nick Vance is a broken athlete. Years back he'd dreamed of making it big in the Olympic
Games, but the US boycott of the Moscow event shattered his hopes. Since then he's sought
solace in finding & promoting young talented runners. & it seems that those old dreams will
finally come true, at least for one of his proteges -- Stanley “Bullet” Gardner. But does The
Bullet merely posses raw talent, or is there something more to him than meets the eye?
So when Gardner fails a routine drug test, Vance feels his dreams are once again slipping
away, but he's determined to set the record straight & what follows is the valiant attempt of the
duo to clear The Bullet of all doping charges.
The harder they fight, the more dreadful, dirty secrets they uncover -- secrets that were better
The Champion Maker is an exciting courtroom drama, culminating in a finish that's not only
superb, it's also thought-provoking.
Comparison with Ira Levin's 1976 The Boys From Brazil is inevitable (a thriller centered around
cloning to create the next Fuhrer which was made into a creepily good movie starring Gregory
Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason & Lilli Palmer) -- however, Kevin Joseph has, with superb
finesse, delivered a punching thriller that combines the better elements of science fiction with
impressive legal fiction.
The Champion Maker truly deserves an Olympic medal -- the gold.
The author artistically incorporates continuous action and suspense into this novel, all while
centering the story around running and various topics of science. As well, the book moves the
reader along at a pace of a 5-minute mile, while stimulating the reader intellectually. The author
uses accurate references to the DC area, much the way Dan Brown references the Vatican,
with a similar plot intensity. Very good read, laced with thinking person's humor and modern day
allusions. Highly recommended to those with an interest in running, law, or Big Brother. Reader
is left craving a sequel. Mr. Joseph, will you oblige?
-M. Bleech (Barnes & Noble reviewer)
This is not your father's running fiction
Stories about runners have traditionally focused on the long distance variety; the brooding
marathoners and their ilk who train long hours in solitude. The heroes of this brand of fiction
are often haunted/dissatisfied souls, and the many miles they log represent either flight from
personal demons or journeys toward the truer self. It may be that endurance and perseverance
rather than raw speed resonate with the middle-aged book buyer. It may be that short distance
sprints, won and lost in less than ten seconds, leave little room for literary tension. Regardless
of the reason, taut exciting fiction about runners and running has remained unclaimed territory:
Until now. With "The Champion Maker" Kevin Joseph has planted his flag squarely in the middle
of this new literary landscape and is spoiling to take on all comers.
"The Champion Maker" is a hybrid of sports and suspense fiction. His protagonist, Nick Vance,
is a former world class runner who missed his shot at the Olympics years ago. When we meet
Nick he is middle aged and scratching out a living as a junior sports writer for a running
magazine. As his name has faded into obscurity, so have his prospects in the running world. He
is angry and self-destructive; running out of both opportunities and friends. Then he meets
"Bullet" Gardner, the track star of a small-town high school team who's in the process of
squandering his prodigious natural talent through bad training and worse discipline. In the great
tradition of sports stories, the two become teacher and student, each redeeming the other in
the process. But where most conventional sports novels would confine themselves to the
relationship between the two men and their progress toward the "Big Event", Joseph takes us
further. He walks us into the realm of the suspense novel in the tradition of Grisham. Soon
enough, Nick and Bullet are caught up in conspiracies that have nothing to do with the hundred
Kevin Joseph knows running; both the activity and the culture. Whether he's describing the
heat of a race, the grueling training world class runners endure, or even the finer points of how
drug testing is conducted in elite sports, he never loses his footing. His writing on the subject
rings true and his love of the sport is infectious.
-J. Popham (Amazon.com reviewer)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Joseph is a former Washington litigator who now serves as corporate counsel at a
Fortune 100 company. After completing his undergraduate studies at Cornell University, where
he ran varsity track, the author obtained his law degree with honors from Duke University. He
lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife and family. The Champion Maker is his first novel.
|Copyright © 2008 Kevin Joseph. All rights reserved.