Just in case there's someone who reads sportswriter Lupica's stylish, gossipy mysteries about cable-newsman Peter Finley (Dear Air, Extra Credits) for the plot; this is the one about drugs, gambling, and the seamy side of Big Apple nightlife. The morning after Finley and his wife Jeannie trek up Lexington to old buddy Bobby Wyman's new watering hole, Tom Tiernan's, to say hello and meet the young ex-pitcher (a Rookie of the Year cut off by a mean auto accident) the bar's named after, Bobby's found dead, apparently from an accidental heroin overdose. But Finley thinks Bobby was on the level when he said he was clean. When Libby Byrnes, Bobby's ""primary situation,"" whispers to him at the funeral that ""somebody did this to him"" and then turns up dead of an overdose too, Finley sets out to find the killer. Problem is, all Bobby's sleazeball associates--business manager Eddie Barbaro; partner Allie Herera; ex-vice-squad patron Harry Gamble; brilliant young southpaw-coker B.J. Remick; hulking boxer-barkeep Jerry Salas--act like killers, and it isn't much fun watching Finley follow the marks on the floor (getting sandbagged while searching Bobby's place; following a Tiernan's hanger-on to a warehouse that's become an after-hours ""Dope Emporium""; checking himself into a rehab clinic to chat with B.J. after heir checked in; unmasking virtually the entire cast as dealers, addicts, and murderers). That is, it wouldn't be much fun if Finley weren't such good company, a laid-back wiseguy without a single nasty bone--a distinction that makes him unique among this collection of upscale lowlifes. Sassy and smart, a novel of bad manners wrapped around a mystery nobody will be tempted to take seriously.