Paul O'Brien has developed wonderful characters in his debut novel, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green. Opening with a dazed and confused Lenny, who has no idea what caused the accident which left him holding a shoe with someone’s foot still inside, far less how he came to be carrying a passenger he really shouldn’t have been anywhere near, the novel hits the ground running from the very first paragraph.
Staggering to a payphone, Lenny makes a call that causes the wrestling world to implode and the story then goes back in time, to long before the accident takes place. From that point on, we follow the fortunes of Danno Garland and his various wrestlers and employees, of whom Lenny is one, until we eventually catch up with the accident. The final part of the novel shows the aftermath, with Danno desperately trying to save his disintegrating empire.
Set during the sixties and seventies, when professional wrestling was fixed and run by those with the muscle to keep the ill-gotten gains to themselves, Danno had frequently been promised a share of the top flight rewards, but had always been pushed out.
When he makes a deal with the devil in the form of Proctor King, his fortunes change for the better. But there is always a heavy price to pay for doing business on the sly and Danno soon finds out that the price is higher than he ever dreamed possible.
Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is more than a novel about wrestling and crime. It is a wonderful portrayal of the people – their lives, loves, businesses, losses and heartbreaks. I am not a wrestling fan, but this book held my interest all the way through.
On the negative side, the formatting lets it down and the whole is in need of proofreading to fix the incorrectly facing dialogue marks and other punctuation issues.
I see from the final page that a sequel is in the offing. I’ll look forward to finding out what Danno does next.
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