Fourth Down

Fourth Down

by Dave Klein
     
 

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Once Ed Buck, sports reporter, and Adam Benson, star quarterback for the Chicago Bears, played football on the same college team. Years later, they are still close friends. In New York for a game against the Giants, Benson hands Buck the biggest story of his career.

Gambling on football is one of the country's leading "industries," and the mob's been

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Overview

Once Ed Buck, sports reporter, and Adam Benson, star quarterback for the Chicago Bears, played football on the same college team. Years later, they are still close friends. In New York for a game against the Giants, Benson hands Buck the biggest story of his career.

Gambling on football is one of the country's leading "industries," and the mob's been forcing Benson to throw games. The quarterback has had enough. Sunday, he tells Buck, he's playing to win, and to hell with the mob. After the game, Buck can run with the story.

Adam Benson never makes it off the field alive, and Ed Buck suspects his friend was murdered. Buck knows barely enough to convince a police detective to look into Benson's death--but more than enough to set the mob on his tail.

As Lt. Gerry Keegan probes the tangled connections between the dead quarterback and the head of an organized crime family, uncovering drug dealing, murder, blackmail, prostitution, and double- and triple-crosses, Ed Buck and his fiancee run for their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 48 short, crackling chapters and an epilogue, veteran football journalist Klein (Blindside) spins a compelling yarn of a football fix gone wrong. New York sportswriter Ed Buck is contacted by his close friend and former college teammate, Adam Benson, now quarterback for the Chicago Bears, who confesses that after his cocaine habit made him desperate for money he got involved with a top-secret gambling ring. Benson has been throwing games to insure big payoffs for the crooks, and, disgusted with his duplicity, he decides to defy the racketeers and play his best against the New York Giants in the next encounter. When Benson dies of what appears to be a heart attack just as the Bears have clinched their win, Buck knows his friend was murdered. With the help of New York police lieutenant Gerry Keegan, a sports psychologist, his girlfriend Leigh and Benson's widow, Sherri, Ed tracks down the murderer and finds him linked to a chain of command leading from merely greedy and seedy racketeers to the mysterious kingpin of a massive crime syndicate. The focus of the book shifts away from football and toward the shady mobster dealings. Sometimes melodramatic, the narrative tears along at such a frantic pace that occasional lapses in plot (e.g., Sherri's serious but conveniently forgotten drug habit) may go undetected. While the crime family scenario gets a bit overheated, Klein's clear prose is most engaging when depicting, with a lightweight, manic touch, the fast lane of professional sports. Players and politicians on the take, and Hollywood hopefuls and thugs on the make, are equally entertaining. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Sportswriter Klein gives us an exciting tale of football and organized crime. Hero Ed Buck, a New York sportswriter, is a long-time friend of Adam Benson, quarterback for the Bears. Benson tells Buck that he's been forced to throw games by the men who got him addicted to cocaine but that he doesn't want to do it anymore. Shortly thereafter, Benson drops dead on the field while playing a fantastic game, embarrassing the Bears. After Buck convinces the police to investigate, they find just barely visible evidence of murder. For the rest of the book, Buck is joined by his fianc e and Benson's widow in stalking the killers--who, in turn, are trying to kill Buck. The football action is well written and suspenseful, but the real story here is about friendship, persistence, and the good guys winning. Recommended for the sports and mystery collections of public libraries.--Marylaine Block, "Librarian Without Walls" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A crime novel from longtime former Newark Star-Ledger sportswriter Klein (the paperback Blindside) that's, at best, a split decision. Big scrappy New York football-star-to-be Ed Buck, signed to the Chicago Bears, gets permanently sidelined when his knee is ruined in a game against the Green Bay Packers. He turns to sportswriting for New York dailies but maintains a close friendship with Bears star quarterback Adam Benson. Years later, on the eve of a game against the Giants, Benson knocks back a few vodkas and tells Buck that he's been losing games because he and his sexpot wife Sherri have been receiving death threats from a mysterious mobster. After Buck promises to keep the news to himself, Benson vows to beat the Giants the next day. And so he does, playing so cleverly that even Giants fans cheer, until he's tackled in a pile-up and leaves the field on a stretcher. After the Bears win, the team's doctor announces that Benson has died of a heart attack. Buck, of course, is skeptical. He takes a leave from his job and gets fiancée Leigh and NYPD Lieutenant Joe Keegan to help him investigate. Before the trio can start to gather clues, Klein introduces the fat, sneering sports-fixer Billy DeSalvo and his mobster henchman Rico Scalzi. Not only did DeSalvo order Benson's death, he was Sherri's de facto pimp before he manipulated her into marrying the ballplayer. Sherri, a cocaine addict, dreams of being a movie star but decides to confess her many, many sins to Buck and company after learning that Keegan wants an autopsy on her late husband. Sherri's betrayal angers mob underboss Anthony Assante and boss of bosses Arthur McDonald, an 86-year-old Italian pretending to be Irish, whostart a blackmail and killing spree to cover their tracks. Some embarrassingly trite Godfather-ly fumbles but enough insider stuff about the shadier side of pro football to score even so.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466842878
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
09/15/2000
Series:
Sports Journalist Mysteries , #1
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,150,073
File size:
1 MB

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