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D. Keith Mano, Keith D. Mano. Random House (NY), $18 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40275-6

This offbeat and entertaining crime thriller features Mike Wilson, a young Episcopalian priest who leaves his rural Nebraska parish to pinch-hit at his missing brother's establishment, a bar called the Smoking Car. Glad to be back in his old Queens (N.Y.) neighborhood, happy to help out his sister-in-law and four young nieces, likable Mike is surprised to learn that the main draw at the Smoking Car is its bevy of topless dancers. Settling into his work, he worries first that the bar's staff and clientele--whose personalities quickly supercede their stereotypes--will discover he's a priest and then that his corn-fed Nebraska fiancee will discover his new line of work. Mostly, however, he struggles gamely to resolve the conflict between his spiritual inclinations and those of the flesh. The weeks pass and his brother fails to show up; Mike suspects drugs are being traded in the establishment; four of the dancers are gruesomely killed. A dramatic climax, while somewhat contrived, leads to a satisfying denouement in this reflective, appreciative novel from Mano ( The Bridge ), who is definitely not a leg man. (Aug.)