First and Ten

Douglas Anderson, Author Crown Publishers $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-58859-8
It's not bad enough that the Buffalo Bills have lost the last three Super Bowls and had their starting lineup decimated by free agency. Now, in this debut novel, someone is killing off their players. While the NFL is in the throes of a strike, star defensive back Santa (``he came with all the gifts'') Arkwright receives a crank letter threatening the lives of 10 teammates if the strike isn't settled. Frustrated by the incompetence of the police as his fellow Bills are variously poisoned, shot and blown up, Arkwright starts some digging of his own. He is drawn into a maelstrom propelled by such forces as a crooked charity that is fronting for a computerized book-making operation, a deranged born-again Christian whose daughter is Santa's drunken ex-girlfriend, a mysterious journalism professor with a plush lifestyle and a physician with a secret past. Along the way, Santa, who likes to paint, finds a nicer girlfriend who happens to own an art gallery. Suitably cynical about the pro football milieu, Anderson moves his story briskly enough to make up for a couple of sloppy red herrings and some minor leaps in plotting logic. A promisingly punchy debut. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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