Cover image for Fourth down
Fourth down
Klein, Dave.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 1999.
Physical Description:
255 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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Dave Kleins insiders knowledge of the game and the men who play it informs every page of Fourth Down. Ed Buck, sportswriter, and Adam Benson, the Chicago Bears star quarterback, once played college football on the same team. Now Benson confesses to Buck that the mob is forcing him to throw games, and that hes going to play to win against the New York Giants. Benson dies in the middle of the game, apparently of a heart attack. Ed Buck knows it was murder, and convinces a police detective to probe the tangled connections between the dead quarterback and the head of an organized crime family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Adam Benson is the star quarterback of the Chicago Bears. He's in New York to lead his struggling team against the heavily favored New York Giants. The night before the game he drops a bombshell on his old college-teammate and best friend, sportswriter Ed Buck. Benson has been fixing games on the orders of the Mob, to whom he's in deep, thanks to a cocaine addiction. But tomorrow, he tells Buck, he's throwing off the shackles and playing all out to win. Buck, sworn to secrecy, watches in horror as Benson, with the Bears in the lead, is carried from the field and pronounced dead in the locker room. Buck knows the why if not the how and working with his friend, Gerry Keegan, a detective with the NYPD, launches a clandestine investigation. Klein, an award-winning sportswriter for more than three decades, hits all the right notes regarding football, journalism, and the relationship between the media and the players. This top-shelf thriller will have readers gnawing their knuckles to the bone. It's been a while since Klein has tackled a novel, and it's great to have him back. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 48 short, crackling chapters and an epilogue, veteran football journalist Klein (Blindside) spins a compelling yarn of a football fix gone wrong. New York sportswriter Ed Buck is contacted by his close friend and former college teammate, Adam Benson, now quarterback for the Chicago Bears, who confesses that after his cocaine habit made him desperate for money he got involved with a top-secret gambling ring. Benson has been throwing games to insure big payoffs for the crooks, and, disgusted with his duplicity, he decides to defy the racketeers and play his best against the New York Giants in the next encounter. When Benson dies of what appears to be a heart attack just as the Bears have clinched their win, Buck knows his friend was murdered. With the help of New York police lieutenant Gerry Keegan, a sports psychologist, his girlfriend Leigh and Benson's widow, Sherri, Ed tracks down the murderer and finds him linked to a chain of command leading from merely greedy and seedy racketeers to the mysterious kingpin of a massive crime syndicate. The focus of the book shifts away from football and toward the shady mobster dealings. Sometimes melodramatic, the narrative tears along at such a frantic pace that occasional lapses in plot (e.g., Sherri's serious but conveniently forgotten drug habit) may go undetected. While the crime family scenario gets a bit overheated, Klein's clear prose is most engaging when depicting, with a lightweight, manic touch, the fast lane of professional sports. Players and politicians on the take, and Hollywood hopefuls and thugs on the make, are equally entertaining. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sportswriter Klein gives us an exciting tale of football and organized crime. Hero Ed Buck, a New York sportswriter, is a long-time friend of Adam Benson, quarterback for the Bears. Benson tells Buck that he's been forced to throw games by the men who got him addicted to cocaine but that he doesn't want to do it anymore. Shortly thereafter, Benson drops dead on the field while playing a fantastic game, embarrassing the Bears. After Buck convinces the police to investigate, they find just barely visible evidence of murder. For the rest of the book, Buck is joined by his fianc‚e and Benson's widow in stalking the killersÄwho, in turn, are trying to kill Buck. The football action is well written and suspenseful, but the real story here is about friendship, persistence, and the good guys winning. Recommended for the sports and mystery collections of public libraries.ÄMarylaine Block, "Librarian Without Walls" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.