A.J. Devlin
NeWest Press, 2018
252 pages
ISBN: 978-1-988732-24-4

Reviewed by Alicia Shalapata

Cobra Clutch features Jed, a retired wrestler, who returns to his previous life, a raw and gritty world relieved by comedy from his ex-military cousin, Decalin. Decalin not only has the “ability to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. But he is damn near legendary for his tendency to pick a fight after downing one too many of his masterful creations.”

Written in first-person, this novel takes us through a whirlwind of gruesome events. Its informal style suits its audience perfectly, enlightening the audience on the finer points of wrestling and how those skills can assist in solving crime. The characters throughout make numerous allusions to previous detectives, such as Columbo, or pop culture references to PredatorTransformersNintendo, and Davey Crocket.

The novel’s authority sweeps the reader into the combined world of wrestling and private investigating. Devlin revises classic tropes  – Jed’s father, Frank, is a tough retired cop with his own PI business who wants Jed to follow in his footsteps. Decalin is an ex-military bartender. One of the thugs, Damian, poses as a hardcore biker dude, but makes welded statues of characters from Star Wars. Then there is a sleazy PI named Melvin, and Pocket and Tubbs, two wresters whose names complement their size, and Rya, the police detective who is Frank’s protégée.

The novel is set in Vancouver’s Metrotown, Denman Street, on the Ghost train at Stanley Park, and the skytrain.

This book is a fresh, exhilarating twist on the mystery by combining both wrestling and sleuthing to create a one-of-a-kind novel.

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