Picks and Pans Review: Star Picks

updated 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>ON THE JOB, TV TALKMEISTER MAURY Povich scans an average of four books a week, but for pleasure, he turns to favorite writers like William Murray, the Del Mar, Calif., novelist who is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Following is Povich's review of the latest Murray mystery:


Thirty-five years later I can still remember the moment. Garden State Park racetrack, ninth race. I had placed my first $50 bet—a whole month's college-expense money from my parents, wagered on an aging 10-1 shot named Martin's Gold. It turned into Maury's Gold. My hands shook as I collected $550 at the cashier's window. It was a fortune to a 19-year-old.

William Murray's fictional hero, Shifty Lou Anderson, would have been proud. So would his cronies, Arnie, Angles and Jay. But that was long before Murray had created these glorious racetrack hounds, who reappear in his seventh Anderson mystery.

On the one hand, Shifty is a close-up magician polishing his act in places like Vegas and L.A.'s Magic Castle. On the other, he is sanity in a sea of misfits who would rather be at the track than with their wives.

Shifty faces off with a Kentucky Bluegrass breeder who has no intention of allowing trainer Charlie Pi-card his one chance at glory in an upcoming race. The cash-poor owner is under the thumb of an unsavory partner who excels at money-laundering, gunrunning and flat-out violence. But Shifty fingers the bad guys as if he were picking winners in the Daily Racing Form.

In this railbird yarn, Murray gives readers a Triple Crown ride. But Anderson is not so lucky when he meets his femme fatale, assistant trainer May Pollack; alas, this lovely lady likes women too. I wonder if Murray could book her for my show. Hmmmm...(Doubleday)

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