January 30, 1989 12:00 PM

by Dan Jenkins

It’s 1935 and the Depression has hit hard in Texas, but Betsy Throckmorton isn’t suffering. After nine splendid years of college and a journalism career in New York, she has come home to Clay-belle to take over her daddy’s newspaper. Accompanying Betsy is her stick-in-the-mud husband, Ted, a Yale football star turned TIME magazine writer. He is to run Betsy’s daddy’s radio station. Daddy is moved to such generosity because he wants his little girl back in Texas and, almost as important, because now he’ll have even more time to devote to rooting for his beloved Horned Frogs, Texas Christian University’s football team. That is the setup for Jenkin’s entertaining sixth novel (his earlier efforts include Semi-Tough and Baja Oklahoma), and soon enough he thickens the plot by tossing in Betsy’s high school flame, murder and journalistic derring-do. And, as Jenkins fans have come to expect, there’s also a vocabulary-stretching plentitude of cheerful sexual vulgarisms (“Girl, he’s a Texas Ranger. Don’t nothin’ turn his stomach but two warm tits on his back”). Jenkins, a former SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer, has worked this territory (football and Texas) before, though this time he adds some fresh and affectionate material about newspaper life (hence the title). The period setting and whodunit plot are fun, so even if he isn’t exactly stretching his novelistic grasp, old Dan coasting still offers a better ride than most popular writers do working at full speed. (Simon and Schuster, $19.95)

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