In Defense of Judges

A. W. Gray, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-525-24875-0

``Her blue eyes widened. Her red lips parted. Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession.'' This provocative description is typical of the lurid, laid-back and literate prose in Gray's exciting follow-up to Bino. The white-haired, six-foot-six Dallas lawyer who gives new meaning to the term ``hard-boiled'' is in another juicy mess. Bino Phillips, in practice for 18 years (``I've even won a case or two''), has a reputation for defending unsavory characters; so he's more than a little surprised when he's hired to represent a federal judge about to be indicted on trumped-up charges. Adding spice--and danger, as it turns out--is the judge's knockout daughter, a compulsive gambler who got herself involved with some nasty photos which she wouldn't be proud to show Daddy. Though this highly readable yarn has more than its fair share of plot twists, it's the author's tough-talking, wise-cracking style that puts him at the top of the heap. With a flair reminiscent of the best of the Bogie gangster flicks, Gray presents Dallas as a place where corruption hangs out on every corner, where dolls with ``let's party eyes'' take ``itty-bitty bites'' of lunch; a town where the double-crossers ``can't even level with the bad guys.'' There are double-crossers and bad guys aplenty here--and something's going on between Bino and his secretary, and it's not all business. This is as good as it gets, crime-novel-wise. (June)