RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S BOOK REVIEW SERIES: "Blood Red Turns Dollar Green" - A crime novel set in the territory days
Sep 12, 2012 - 1:54:52 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
RADICAN’S BOOK REVIEW SERIES
“BLOOD RED TURNS DOLLAR GREEN”
BY PAUL O’BRIEN
“Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” is a crime novel set in the pro wrestling territories of the ‘70s. Writing fiction and tying it into the pro wrestling universe is a niche market at best given the difficult nature of trying to satisfy a wrestling audience while bringing in a casual audience that otherwise might not be interested in the wrestling genre.
O’Brien successfully achieves this difficult goal by writing a gripping novel that highlights that the people running pro wrestling in the ‘70s weren’t all that different from those running organized crime operations. The operation in questions is called the National Wrestling Council and when the head of the council dies under suspicious circumstances, it sets of a chain of events that carry the rest of the novel.
O’Brien uses an interesting narrative style starting the book at a pivotal moment in the narrative and then backtracking and laying out the story from the start. Lenny Long is a driver for Danno Garland, who runs the New York territory, is charged with getting Babu the mute Champion to Shea Stadium along with his challenger Gilbert King to Shea Stadium for what is supposed to be a big title switch.
The story begins with Lenny crashing his car, which leaves everyone in a precarious situation that isn’t fully understood until the gripping final 100 pages of the story. O’Brien presents gripping characters that are put into situations and react to those situations in a very real way.
The progression of the main characters is a blast to follow. Danno, whose background is very similar to Vince McMahon before he put the territories out of business, makes a deal with Proctor King, the owner of the Florida territories, to hand the belt of to him in three years. Danno has waited a long time for his chance and now he has Babu a giant mute wrestler to draw him more money than he’s ever made in the wrestling business.
The story takes the reader on a journey that references several events that longtime wrestling fans will be familiar with. Congress is hot on Danno’s tail threatening to pull the plug on him because of their suspicion that wrestling is fake. There are references to David Shultz punching John Stossel for calling wrestling fake, one could also draw allusions to the Bret Hart-HBK feud which started off as a work, but ended up turning into a real feud, in the narrative of the relationship between Proctor and Danno.
Danno’s driver Lenny desperately wants to be brought inside the business, but as the story progressed, Danno continues to keep him in the dark to protect the business. As the story unfolds, Lenny becomes a sympathetic character as he gets wrapped up in Danno’s world of corruption and his marriage begins to crumble with the risk of his wife and kids leaving him and moving out west.
As Danno and Proctor’s relationship begins to crumble, Danno changes as fascinating situations are placed in front of him. He must come to grips as to whether or not he wants to still do business with Proctor as they backstab each other and their relationship is strained.
There’s a lot here for wrestling fans to sink their teeth into, but fans of crime novels will enjoy the twists and turns the plot takes as Danno battles congress while trying not to let his own world crumble around him as he battles for power with Proctor while fighting congress. The back stabbing that builds throughout the novel between Danno and Proctor lead to a thrilling conclusion that changes Danno, Proctor, and Lenny forever.
I give this book a strong recommendation for any audience. There’s just so much to enjoy as the narrative unfolds and it was nearly impossible to put the book down for the last 100 pages as the story built to a climax. O’Brien did a wonderful job of capturing the underground nature of wrestling during the territory days, but he also managed to blend it into a fascinating tale of crime, which is no easy feat.
For more information on purchasing this book visit Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or PaulObrien.Info. The book is also available for purchase on most eReaders.
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