A. W. Gray, Author Dutton Books $16.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-525-24728-9

Dope dealers, shysters, hookers, a corrupt lawyer, a used car salesman and assorted small-time hoods are among the low-lifers who swagger through this vividly realistic trip across the seedy underbelly of Texas. Gray, who canvassed this terrain in his first novel Bino , weds hardboiled dialogue to slambang action in a very busy plot that unfolds in fits and starts like a poker game, full of devious twists and bluffs. Sizemore Brandon (``Size'' for short), cool giant of a man, con artist and poker player, uses casino waitress Merrillee Rogers to ferret out information about a Colombian drug dealer. Their live-in arrangement blossoms into love, but when Pecos Jimmy, Size's one-time buddy, moves in on the action, the bodies start falling and Size has to play his cards right in sleazy Las Vegas to rescue his gal. This is the kind of novel where you know what everyone drinks, drives and wears, a Texas tale in which the women are broads with full, soft lips and the men are tough as darts. One notable exception is Merrillee, who's sensitively portrayed as a single working mother. (Jan.)