Monday, December 07, 2009

One Too Many Blows to the Head -- JB Kohl & Eric Beetner

It's Kansas City, 1939, and Rex Ward's an up-and-coming fighter managed by his brother Ray. Things are going well for the brothers until Rex is killed in a fight. It's not an accident, and Ray's intent on finding out who's responsible. Turns out Ray has quite a temper, and that's bad news for the people he questions about his brother's death.

The book is told in alternating first person chapters by Ray and by Dean Fokoli, the bent cop who's trying to find Ray as he kills his way up the chain of command in the boxing world to find the fixer. Fokoli has troubles of his own. His wife is slowly poisoning herself with alcohol because of something Fokoli did, and Internal Affairs is after him for that, too, among other things. The other cops don't like him or trust him, either.

The prose is hardboiled and lean, and there's plenty of violence. The book is, as we famous bloggers who love a cliché like to say, not for the faint of heart. There's a surprise or two along the way, and you'll want to know what happens to Fokoli and Ray. They're deeply flawed, but Beetner and Kohl keep them human, which is quite an accomplishment when you consider the circumstances. Does either man find a kind of redemption at the end? Or do both of them? Check it out and see.

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