Throwing 7's

Denis Hamill, Author, Pete Hamill, Author Pocket Books $24 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-02614-1

Although Hamill's second Bobby Emmet novel (after Three Quarters) is not without a measure of charm, its brutality at times can be hard to take. Bobby's improbably noxious lawyer, Izzy Gleason, looks to be the fall guy for the murder of a married couple. Eddie and Sally McCoy had the misfortune to resist moving out of their rent-controlled apartment in a building that is the proposed site for the terminal to a New York City offshore gambling casino--and Izzy is the attorney for the building's owner. Ex-cop Bobby, now a P.I., owes Izzy a favor and must strive to clear him. As he does, three religious leaders operate a lucrative gambling operation for purely humanitarian purposes, and gorgeous women--including Bobby's wildly wealthy ex-wife, a tennis star and a confused nun--throw themselves at him. Hamill (who pens the ""Show People"" column in the New York Daily News) sometimes allows noir posturing to trump good sense: If a woman is awakened by a killer at 3:57 a.m., would she really be wearing mascara that could smear and make her eyes ""look like little muddy graves""? Would a man with a gun shoved into his mouth really contemplate how ""only a killer wears gloves in July""? Still, Hamill has a knack for unflinching scenes of extreme brutality, and he makes an effort to humanize his hero, dwelling on Bobby's weekend, divorced-dad relationship with his daughter. Some readers may feel that the novel's excesses are morally redeemed by Bobby's trenchant good-guy posture; others may find the hero too one-dimensional to be convincing. (Feb.)