cover image The Appearance of Impropriety

The Appearance of Impropriety

Walter Walker. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74042-9

In his fifth novel, Walker ( A Dime to Dance By ) relates a sprightly and cynical tale of pro basketball and corruption. The book focuses on the fictional San Francisco Golden Gaters, a once-promising franchise now struggling during a year in which they were supposed to be contenders. The Gaters are owned by an obnoxious supermarket magnate and coached by an increasingly weary product of the college ranks, workaholic Booby Sinclair. The narrative begins with the team, a collection of bickering egomaniacs, skidding along on a painfully unsuccessful road trip made all the more painful by the presence of Colin Cromwell, a local sports columnist who may have stumbled onto a betting-and-game-fixing conspiracy within the players' ranks. When Cromwell takes a header out of a sixth-story window, the list of suspects essentially includes everyone on the the team, plus the coaches and trainer. Walker's brisk, no-nonsense prose keeps the story moving along nicely, in spite of some rather ornate plotting and a structure that shifts focus among the many protagonists in almost every chapter. Walker seems to have a fair grasp of the world of pro hoops, although his plot is a bit far-fetched and convoluted. Still, this is a deft and amusing book. (Feb.)