cover image Half Nelson

Half Nelson

Jerome Doolittle. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-50289-8

The fifth round for Doolittle's tough-talking, softhearted hero Tom Bethany-wrestling champ, Vietnam vet, PI and lover of Hope Edwards, head of the Washington, D.C., branch of the American Civil Liberties Union-is bloody and intricate. Hope wants Bethany to investigate threats made to Richard Rackleff, head of the environmental group Earth Everlasting, whose efforts to save the forests of the Northwest have made him some nasty enemies-from neo-Nazi skinheads to the ruthless CEO of the Dixie-Cascade timber corporation. Earth Everlasting has brought charges against Dixie-Cascade directly to Oregon's newly appointed U.S. Attorney, bypassing the state's top FBI honcho. In Oregon for the trial and acting as Rackleff's bodyguard, Bethany uses every ploy in his extensive book to keep his charge safe. He fails. Guilt-driven and determined to find Rackleff's murderer, Bethany sets a dizzying series of traps, marked by detailed scenes of physical torture, foul-mouthed dialogue and another killing. Some tense moments enliven the not always convincing Byzantine plot in a tale not for delicate tastes. Previous titles include Headlock and Body Scissors. (Oct.)