David F. Nighbert, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (263p) ISBN 978-0-312-07847-8
For his fourth novel, Nighbert returns--albeit briefly--to the baseball setting of his 1989 effort, Strikezone. The protagonist once again is player-turned-novelist Bill ``Bull'' Cochran. This time, the hardheaded Cochran is involved in the investigation of the apparent murder-suicide of a famous pitcher and a classy prostitute in a motel in one of the seedier parts of Houston. That the pitcher, Joe Ahern, was a former roommate of Cochran's, ``the only pitcher who can ever compare to Nolan Ryan,'' and a genuinely good guy with a sterling reputation only strengthens Cochran's resolve to uncover the truth. The mess that he encounters includes arson, real estate swindles, money laundering, crooked computer wizards and the theft of $5 million from a right-wing evangelist. Along the way, Cochran gets beaten up several times, shot, tossed into an automobile compactor and generally abused. Nighbert keeps all this in play fairly adroitly until a climax that involves several gratuitous plot twists and an unbelievable from-the-jaws-of-death finale. Until those last few pages, the book moves at a lightning clip, its extremely convoluted plot kept plausible by the standards of the hard-boiled genre. And while the ending doesn't quite work, it's certainly not dull. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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