In this novel, Aaron “Woodshed” Wallace is a professional mixed martial arts fighter with a very shaky past. He’s rough around the edges and is the kind of person who only knows fighting, so he might as well get paid for it. He’s a club fighter operating in regional shows when promoter Eddie Banzai from the world’s largest fighting organization (this novel’s version of the UFC), offers him to fight one of their most prominent fighters on two days notice, who Woody incidentally had previously beaten, in the co-main-event of a Pay Per View card. After he signs a contract all hell breaks loose. He is out to dinner with Marcela, the cousin of his Brazilian training partners when an old friend whom Woody owes a big favor asks to back him up to a bookie he owes money to. Woody intervenes when the bookie’s henchman starts beating up his friend. This later leads to Marcela being kidnapped. Woody is told that he has to win the fight or bad things will happen to Marcela. The story then evolves into rival gangs, illegal pit fighting, and the Yakuza.
There is some good and bad and this novel. I enjoyed the training and the fight scenes. The author either has a background in mixed martial arts or has done a lot of research because this aspect of the book is very well done. The book is extremely fast paced and was a quick read, things that I appreciate it. The main characters, such as Woody, his training partners, and Marcela arr well done. The villain characters in this story, such as Eddie Banzai, Kendall, and Chops weren’t quite as well developed. My biggest issue centers about the believability aspects on certain plot points. The quandary that Woody gets himself could have been explained better and was hard to buy into. The way he gets himself out of it is also a stretch. The climax was hard to follow in spots and could have gone through a bit of rewrite for clarity. Overall, I find this to be an enjoyable read and would recommend it.
Carl Alves - author of Reconquest: Mother Earth