Mark Renzler, ballplayer turned shamus (Death in Center Field), is hired by one of his least favorite people--lawyer Mike O'Leary, his ex-father-in-law--to help with a daunting 1972 murder case: ex-Yankee Dwight Robinson, ""the black Mickey Mantle,"" has been accused of killing his rich, white, well-connected wife Cynthia. So, reluctant but curious, Renzler and sidekick Nate--a bulky, sloppy celebrity-painter (""this year's Peter Max"")--set off on a series of day-trips from Manhattan to suburban, country-clubby New Jersey. If Dwight didn't kill Cynthia, then who did? At first the top suspects are two other black men who entertained Cynthia during Dwight's away-game absences. There's also the question of Dwight's secret alibi: a married lady-friend who's paying for his defense even if she can't reveal her identity. But things become more complicated when, thanks to new girlfriend Terry Vreeland (Cynthia's gorgeous, golfing sister), Renzler learns about incestuous doings in the Vreeland family. And politics sneak in too--with the ruthless machinations of Cynthia's congressman-uncle and rumors about a local land-scam. Despite a mildly surprising windup, the plotting here is just serviceable; the characterization, too, remains comfortably one-dimensional. But the early-1970's setting provides an odd sort of almost-nostalgia (complete with references to The Mod Squad and Morey Amsterdam). And Renzler's easygoing, sardonic narration keeps things moving along on a jaunty, jokey, not-too-serious level.