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The bestselling author of "The Dark Side of the Game" tackles the unspoken taboos in sports today in this fast-paced and gripping thriller set in the world of pro football.

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Overview

The bestselling author of "The Dark Side of the Game" tackles the unspoken taboos in sports today in this fast-paced and gripping thriller set in the world of pro football.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ex-pro-football player Green, author of the nonfiction NFL expos The Dark Side of Paradise, sets his fifth novel in the high-stakes world of NFL football. The cast of characters in this fast-paced thriller says it all: Angel Cassidy, a Hollywood playgirl out for kicks up until her grisly end; Conrad Dobbins, a shady pro sports agent; African-American Trane Jones, Dobbins's one big client, the key figure in a lucrative campaign for a new athletic shoe; Kurt Lunden, the scheming shoe manufacturer; Clark Cromwell, a born-again NFL journeyman; and a couple of stoned killers who like nothing better than racking up a large body count. When Trane is accused of Angel's murder, Madison McCall--ace trial lawyer, athletics agent and familiar from her appearance in previous Green novels--takes on his defense, though she disapproves of his brutal treatment of women. Meanwhile, Trane is capitalizing on his notoriety in TV ads ("Zeus Shoes... they're killer") and sales go through the roof. The sudden appearance of a videotape clears Trane, and suspicion falls on his teammate, Clark Cromwell, who once had a relationship with Angel, too. Readers will probably not be surprised that good-hearted (to the point of goofiness) Clark is being framed. But NFL commentator and USA Today columnist Green knows the territory and he leads us briskly right through the bloody, satisfying climax. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Football pros Clark Cromwell and Trane Jones have nothing in common. Clark's a religious goody-goody, while Trane grew up tough in the inner city and has a criminal record. But when the starlet who seduced them both turns up dead, they must join forces.
Kirkus Reviews
Brainy trial lawyer and sports agent Madison McCall (Marauders, 1997, etc.) returns, this time to defend a football player accused in the murder of a Hollywood beauty. Best-known for his nonfictional The Dark Side of the Game (1996), former All-American football star Green, an NPR analyst during the NFL season, has yet to gain respectable yardage as a novelist. Here, foulmouthed, sadistic running back Trane Jones has a chrome ball through his tongue, likes to share opium with prostitutes, beat them before having sex, then beat them some more afterward before another go at it. One morning he wakes up next to a stone-dead hooker, apparently an OD; his agent, Conrad Dobbins, has that whore from Chechnya or somewhere buried in cement at a new building site, along with her pimp and his bitch. Meanwhile, born-again Christian athlete Clark Cromwell gets cut from his team because of a neck injury. Madison handles him and gets a respectable reinstatement of salary. Then glamorous actress Annie Cassidy, who has bedded both Trane and Cromwell, is clubbed to death with Trane's golf club. Although Madison agrees to defend Trane, both ballplayers find themselves wrapped in a haze of guilt. Which of them did it? Or did neither? As ever, Green shines in depicting strategies of the playing field while his stereotypical characters have only enough life to generate a plot of mild entertainment value.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446608497
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Green
Tim is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen highly successful suspense novels, including his newest national bestseller, FALSE CONVICTIONS (2010), as well the non-fiction New York Times bestseller, THE DARK SIDE OF THE GAME which was featured on CBS's 60 Minutes. His last few novels have all been national bestsellers hitting the charts at #22 and #30 on the New York Times Bestseller list. While his first five novels used professional football as their backdrop, his most recent works have drawn more on his experiences as a lawyer exploring the themes of ambition and revenge.

Tim is also the author of a memoir entitled A MAN AND HIS MOTHER: AN ADOPTED SON'S SEARCH which was featured on Entertainment Tonight, ABC's Prime Time, and in People Magazine. The movie rights to this memoir have been purchased by CBS for a movie of the week. In addition, he writes a series of chapter books for young readers set in the world of professional sports. The first novel in this series, FOOTBALL GENIUS, was released in 2007.

His writing career began at Syracuse University where he was a Rossman Scholar for Humanities, a Syracuse Scholar, an NCAA Top Six Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, and co-valedictorian of his class. While studying English Literature, Tim became acquainted with the renowned minimalist, Raymond Carver, and had the opportunity to study under the award-winning writer and professor, Tobias Wolff.

During his studies, Tim also played football for the Syracuse Orangemen with a career that included consensus All-American honors as well as his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Most recently, Tim received the NCAA's prestigious Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of their intercollegiate athletic career, that have gone on to achieve personal distinction since their graduation. In 1986, he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons where he was a star defensive end for eight years. During his NFL career, Green began his thirteen-year career as a commentator for National Public Radio, wrote columns for USA Today, and received his law degree with honors at Syracuse University. Because of his accomplishments both Sports Illustrated and the Los Angeles Times have called Tim Green the "Renaissance Man" of sports.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

Trane Jones emerged from a small voodoo shop at the corner of Crescent and strolled confidently down Bourbon Street with his back straight, his head high, and a spring in his gait. He was full-framed at six foot four, and the biker boots he wore made him taller and more imposing still. Despite the late hour he wore a dark pair of Oakley sunglasses, and a black leather cap, which he wore backward, matched his jacket but covered his trademark diagonal cornrows. It was a cool night in the Quarter. Before he could go ten steps people began to recognize him.

"Trane! Can I have your autograph?"

The boy was excited, a freckle-faced white kid about twelve years old. He looked like he came from a place like Nebraska.

"Fuck you," Trane said, scowling at the boy's parents and walking on without bothering to sign the kid's crummy piece of paper. Nothing pissed him off more than people grubbing for autographs.

Trane Jones wanted to forget about football. For any NFL player not involved in the Conference championship games, that weekend, like the Super Bowl, was an annoyance. All the hard work, the sweat, and the pain seemed futile when you realized that no one really cared about you quite as much unless you won a championship. Here he was, the NFL's best runner-the best ever, if you asked him-with records falling all around him like pigeon shit. But people still didn't give him the respect he deserved because he had yet to play for a championship team. He was a New Orleans Saint. It annoyed him to no end. It was the kind of mood that seemed to lead him to trouble, or trouble to him.

As he walked he spurned other autograph-seeking tourists with a deadly stare, refusing to stop or even slow his pace. He could have avoided the crowded street, but there was something satisfying about having the whole world point and stare and you just keep walking on by. Trane took a left on Conto and entered the dark bowels of the Quarter, leaving the crowded street behind. A handful of middle-aged drunks who'd just emerged from a bar followed him for a block but then thought better of it.

Trane snorted disdainfully as he passed the familiar signs that warned of high crime in the area, but all the same he caught himself absently touching the Glock strapped underneath his arm. Three blocks down he took a right between two battered redbrick buildings into a narrow, unmarked street. Halfway down the darkened street he came to a small storefront with a simple glossy black door and a large window painted entirely red except for the words etched carefully into the paint:

ELYSIUM: WHERE THE GODS PLAY.

Inside was a small anteroom lit by an orange lamp that suggested firelight. An elegantly dressed man in his mid-forties sat behind an important-looking antique desk. The man, Gaston, a half-breed, wore a thin European mustache and spoke with an accent.

"Mr. Jones," he said calmly.

"I want a banger," Trane said with a wicked white smile from behind the dark glasses.

"Of course," Gaston said, picking up a phone. "Please make yourself comfortable in the lounge, Mr. Jones."

Trane let himself through a dark wooden door into the smoky bar, where well-dressed men and beautiful women of every color mingled quietly together. Trane moved through the room and sat down at a small table in the corner. This was a club where unusual things were the norm, so it didn't seem to be any great surprise that Trane Jones had walked into it. Still, people couldn't keep from stealing a look his way. Trane let his tongue hang lazily out of his mouth so they could see the chrome ball he had pierced through it years ago as his trademark. Within seconds a perky redhead brought Trane a scotch. She ignored his tongue and he presumed she'd seen him there before. He returned her smile by wagging it at her and staring pointedly at her backside as she walked away.

Moments later a waif of a girl with snowy blond hair appeared from a door in the back and made her way to Trane's table. She was thin but adequately endowed. The skin about her neck and shoulders was a pale white, even against her simple white silk dress. She wore very little makeup, a touch of blush and a light pink lipstick. That and her big liquid brown eyes gave her face a childlike innocence that sent Trane's blood rushing.

"You my banger, baby?" he said.

The girl feigned timidity and brought her mouth to his. He held the back of her neck with his enormous hand and kissed her hard. She sat down.

"Drink?" he said.

Before she could answer, the redhead was back with a bottle of expensive champagne. "This is from Mr. Le Tousse," she said, displaying the bottle with dash.

Trane could see a balding middle-aged man in the background staring his way and puffing up like a peacock in his expensive suit. He was flanked by two striking black women.

"Tell him to fuck himself," Trane said casually, "and bring my little girl here a . . ."

"Manhattan," the blonde said in a heavy Russian accent.

"A Man-hat-tan, and another a this shit for me."

The redhead fought back a frown and returned to the bar with the bottle in hand. Trane gave the arrogant white man the finger and turned his attention to the girl. She was just what he liked. He'd have to remember to tip Gaston nicely.

After their drinks the girl asked in halting English. "Would you like go?"

Trane shook his head slowly and with a shameless grin told her, "I wanna just sit here and look and think about how I'm gonna tear you up . . ."

The girl managed a crooked smile and took another drink. Trane just stared. He could make even a girl like this squirm, and that somehow made him feel good.

Another drink, long and slow, and he said, "Now."

Without a word she stood and took him by the hand, leading him into the back and up a wide set of spiral stairs and down a long dim carpeted hallway to a room at the end. The room was Gothic, with high wood-carved ceilings and heavily draped windows that led to two separate wrought-iron balconies. Between the two windows stood a large sculpted four-poster bed draped with a diaphanous canopy. When the door was shut behind them, Trane hit the girl hard on the back of the head with his open hand, knocking her to the floor and sprawling her pale thin limbs onto the thick blue oriental rug. She got up slowly and turned to look at him. His eyes were lit with a strange glow, and her limbs began to shake.

"This for you," she offered.

Beside the bed on a dresser top was a Turkish water pipe. The girl lit it and inhaled long and hard before presenting it to Trane. The scent of opium filled the room, and the girl's dark brown eyes were soon glazed with indifference.

Trane beat her, then took her, then beat her again.

In the dead hours of the night Trane awoke to find the girl sitting on the edge of the bed with a needle in her arm. Half asleep, he watched her shoot her junk, and then took her hard one more time before collapsing for the rest of the night.

When the first beam of sunlight dropped across his face, Trane began to stir. The bed felt wet, wet and sticky. He bolted upright and rubbed his eyes furiously. A guttural moan clawed its way up his throat and escaped into the musty room. The bed was soaked in blood. The girl beside him was blue, stone cold.

(c) 1999 by Tim Green"

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