It’s a jacket; it’s a mattress; it’s a fortune! Mullaney staked his life on it. The way it all worked out was that Mullaney finally figured he had to take the big gamble; he’d never get rich selling encyclopedias. Consequently, he left his wife and went off to make a killing at cards, horses, dice — you name it. But here he is at the end of the year with a single subway token in his pocket and the hottest, sure-thing tip he’s ever heard on the second race at Aqueduct... So he’s standing at Fourteenth Street and Fourth Avenue wondering where he can promote some coin, who he can put the bite on, when this long black limousine pulls up and out hops a big guy with a beard and a gun and says, “Get in!” That’s how A Horse’s Head, Evan Hunter’s hugely funny new novel, starts. It never lets up as it races back and forth across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, diving into some very odd places indeed — such as the locked stacks of the Library’s Main Branch and an East Side cellar synagogue — and introducing some of the strangest gunsels, moon-struck kooks, and pliant lovelies in the entire metropolitan area. The laughs, the bodies, the girls come tumbling one on top of the other as Mullaney smooth-talks, wheedles and deals his way out of one dangerous situation into the next in his mad chase after the crummy, magical black jacket that doesn’t even fit him but which he’s sure is worth half a million dollars. Wild, wonderful, zany — A Horse’s Head is another surprise from the versatile author of The Paper Dragon, The Blackboard Jungle, and the 87th Precinct mysteries.