While there is a ton of nonfiction volumes about the history of the Games, and lots of biographies of Olympians, there are not many novels. Olympic novels can just have the Games as the backdrop, or tell a heart-wrenching story about an athlete. (I suggest someone write an apocalyptic tale with the US women's gymnastics team leading the group of survivors.) The Games by Ted Kosmatka introduces a future threat to the fairness of Olympics competition - gene mutation. This may sound far-fetched, but already Dr Ted Friedmann, chair of the genetics panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he "would not be surprised at all" if gene enhancement were not now being secretly used by some competitors.
Gold by Chris Cleave spins a drama out of two subjects underrepresented in novels: Olympic track cycling and the demands faced by female athletes who try to balance motherhood and elite competition in their peak physical years. Cyclists Zoe and Kate meet at nineteen when they are both trying out for the British Cycling Team. The novel follows their friendship and rivalry through Athens, Beijing and London. Cleave really gets inside the head of these elite athletes, what it’s like to be on the verge of overtraining and really hurting yourself, and the kind of mentality it takes to compete at that level and what it does to you emotionally.
In Flight from Berlin by David John, a spoiled American heiress joins forces with a cynical British journalist in a deadly game against the Gestapo during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. With Jesse Owens as a central figure in those Games, this one delivers plenty of Summer Olympic detail with mystery and history thrown in.
Journalist and British spy Hannah Vogel attends the 1936 Berlin Olympics posing as a Swiss reporter in A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell. When her contact is murdered at the opening ceremony she is determined to find out why, even at the risk of her own life.
The Private in James Patterson’s Private Games is the world's most renowned investigation firm, and has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. When a high ranking member of the London Olympic committee is murdered, Private agents must stop a criminal mastermind before he destroys the games.
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron is a memorable coming-of-age story of Nkuba Jean Patrick, a Tutsi in Rwanda at the height of the Hutu-Tutsi conflict. Jean Patrick is a phenomenal runner, specializing in the 800-meter race and his dream is to go to the Olympics.