Bookseller-sleuth Penelope Warren and her Garfield-esque pet Big Mike are back on the scene as Empty Creek, Arizona, fields a minor-league ball club and starts the season off with a losing streak and a murder--namely, of Peter Adcock. Adcock was much disliked--he was team owner as well as, it turns out, an abuser of women and a dabbler in drug deals--so nobody seems to mind when he's found brained by a bat on opening day. Which may account for Penelope's being unable to focus on this rather simple puzzle until the rattlesnake chili contest and Sexy Lingerie Night are history and the Empty Creek Coyotes, thanks to a field appearance by Big Mike, finally get a win. Allen's cat-plus-a-hobby series is so filled with characters that many are reduced to walk-ons. And most not only seem too sweet to murder (even the murderer is awfully nice) but too involved in sex scenarios with their significant others to do violence. In this fourth installment (Stable Cat, 1996, etc.), there are enough naked-lady jokes to make a cat laugh. But our Big Mike, named for Sherlock Holmes's brainier brother, doesn't. An unsubtle, eager-to-please yarn that will appeal less to admirers of Bull Durham than to those who miss the rather corny, Hugh Hefnerish eroticism of an earlier time.