Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BOXING NOIR: Eric Beetner's "Split Decision"

Okay, I’m hooked on this Fight Card series. I reviewed Paul Bishop’s lead-off entry, Felony Fists, a while back (that’s HERE) and knew it wouldn't be long before I returned for more. And here I am, psyched again after finishing Eric Beetner’s first contribution.

Split Decision introduces Jimmy Wyler, a middleweight with a ten and ten record, just managing to hold his own in the second-class fight circuit of Kansas City. He’s not a great fighter, and he knows it, but he’s managed to fight clean in a town where a good half of the bouts are fixed. But when a dirty promoter offers him $500 to win in a particular round, Jimmy can’t resist. A win is a win, right? And the dough will put an engagement ring on the finger of his best gal Lola.

But right away, Jimmy has regrets. The dirty money will put an end to his career as a legitimate fighter, and cost him what’s left of his self-respect. He wants out of the deal, but learns there's no going back. And once that first fix is history, things get much, much worse. Jimmy finds himself caught between rival gangsters - one who insists he win his next fight, and one who demands he lose. No matter what happens, Jimmy Wyler is screwed.

Split Decision is a nail-biter as Jimmy struggles with his dilemma, and delivers plenty of fireworks when he steps into the ring.

Eric Beetner (aka Jack Tunney) gives us a believable hero and a cast of well-rounded supporting characters: Lola, the gal who’s smarter than she seems; Sal, the well-meaning manager who’s reached the end of his rope; and the opposing gangster/promoters - one venal and one merely greedy.

Best of all, this ain’t the end of the road for Jimmy Wyler. He returns (with a fistful of new problems, no doubt) in A Mouth Full of Blood. The books are available in both Kindle and print editions. Check 'em out!

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