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Fourth Down to Death - Brett Halliday When Mike Shayne is hired by the owner of a football team to find out of one of his lineman purposely let his star quarterback get hurt, he gets a lot more than he bargained for...

First off, I'm not going to lie. I could tell you that I've been wanting to try another Mike Shayne mystery since Hard Case reprinted Murder is my Business but I really picked this one up because of the cover. I'll pause while you get an eyeful. Seriously, how could I not be curious about a book with a cover like this one?

I hate to say it but the cover was my favorite part of this book. Fourth Down to Death is dated as hell, both in its 1970 setting and it's treatment of the female characters in general. Were the early 70's as misogynistic as I'm imagining? There's a rape-y subtext for part of the book and Mike Shayne strikes two women in the face, neither even close to being a danger to him.

The plot was overly-complicated for what it was and I wouldn't say it was actually solvable except by process of elimination. Maybe someone who's more into the ins and outs of gambling would appreciate it more. I just know that my eyes glazed over whenever the point spread was mentioned and I kept waiting for the vixen on the cover to show up.

It's not without it's moments, though. Shayne took a shit-kicking but kept getting up. He reminded me of Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer quite a bit. Both of them should have been suffering from post-concussion syndrome by the end of their series.

If you're curious about the Mike Shayne series, you'd be better served to read Murder is my Business. The best part of this one is the cover.