This latest entry in the Fight Card series is another pulpy, action-packed winner.
Presented under the "house name" byline of Jack Tunney, the actual writer behind the words this time around is Heath Lowrance who does a fine job of conveying a strong sense of time and place and telling a tale that propels the reader along right from the opening passages.
The protagonist here is one Tom Riley, another product of St. Vincent's Asylum For Boys and its "battling priest", Father Tim. As the story opens, Riley is a talented but too-cocky (a trait that not even Father Tim could break him of) boxer making a name for himself in Detroit. His cockiness is ultimately a trait that lands him in trouble with the Detroit mob—not through the usual means involving gambling and rigged fights, though, but as a result of his mouth causing a barroom conflict with a high-ranking mob soldier named Wheels Meyer whom Riley ends up accidentally killing.
Riley has no choice but to go on the lam. He ends up in Memphis, the Bluff City, where he adopts a new name and a quiet, low-key lifestyle. He stays out of the boxing ring but nevertheless takes a grunt job at a local gym where he can at least be close to the action.
The reach of the Detroit mob is long, however, and the thirst for vengeance by its boss, Kardinsky, is deep.
It's just a matter of time before Riley's past catches up with him in the Bluff City. When it does, Riley realizes the only way he can put it behind him once and for all is to stand his ground and use his fists to fight his way clear.
It should be noted that Heath Lowrance also writes in the straight crime and Western genres. I haven't yet red his crime novels (The Bastard Hand, Dig Ten Graves, and the just-released City of Heretics) but they're all getting high praise and I plan to get to them soon.
On the Western front, he authored last year's Miles To Little Ridge in the popular Cash Laramie series. He's also responsible for his own Western series featuring the mysterious protagonist 'Hawthorne' who has appeared so far in the titles That Damned Coyote Hill and The Long Black Train. All of these I have read and, along with Bluff City Brawler, highly recommend.
Mr. Lowrance is clearly a writer to keep your eye on.
Persevere --- WD