Even a slugger like Tanenbaum (Reversible Error, 1992, etc.) can't hit a home run every time--as witnessed by this contrived, though compelling, fifth novel in his 70's-set series about crime- busting Manhattan D.A. Butch Karp and his crew. The core case here is the murder of New York Hustlers basketball star Marion Simmons, his body found in his car--along with $50,000 worth of coke. We (but not Karp) know whodunit--a top mob hit man and his apprentice--but we don't know why. Karp gets into the action when the Hustlers coach asks him to look into the killing, which Karp can do since he's just resigned his post as a way of taking responsibility for a subordinate's screw-up. So Karp, going undercover, joins the Hustlers as a player--and this after the aging ex-A.D.A., once a hot basketball prospect, has just picked up a b-ball for the first time in years. Tanenbaum tries hard, but Karp's ability to play pro ball, much less lead the Hustlers to victory, just aren't convincing. Meanwhile, the hit men hunt two witnesses to the killing, one of whom turns for help to an old pal--who happens to be Karp's pregnant wife, Marlene, on leave from the D.A.'s office. Bored at home, Marlene teams up with a rummy cop to chase the killing's drug angle, contacting a druglord who provides clues that, along with others, point at a land-grab conspiracy involving crooked powerbrokers. Karp rejoins the D.A.'s office and taps old series pals to tie up the case--but not before Marlene is attacked by the hit men even as her baby struggles to be born.... Plenty of intrigue, action, and Tanenbaum's usual snappy folk and dialogue--but the Perils of Pregnant Pauline gambit and other tricky plays may have readers calling ``foul.''