Tuesday, November 22, 2011




This is the second title in the exciting Fight Card series co-created (and also written, at least for the first two entries) by Paul Bishop and Mel Odom. Like Bishop's Felony Fists, Odom's The Cutman scores an on-the-button KO in the grand old pulp style of the "sports pulp" magazines from the '30s and '40s.

Set in Havana, Cuba, 1954, The Cutman centers on Mickey Flynn, a seaman in port for a few days from the ship Wide Bertha. Mick is a Korean War vet raised in a Chicago orphanage with his brother Patrick. At St. Vincent's Asylum for Boys (aka Our Lady of the Glass Jaw), both brothers were schooled by the nuns, but also educated in the "sweet science" of boxing by Father Tim, the fighting priest.

This background has left Mickey a tough, competent warrior hardened by conflict in the streets, in rings, and on the battlefield. Never looking for trouble, but also never backing down from any, his simple goal these days is to be loyal to his ship, his captain, his crew –and in the process see as much of the world as he can.

Mob-run Havana in the early '50s, however, proves not an easy place for somebody like Mickey Flynn to stay out of trouble. In no time at all, Mick and his shipmates have tangled with some local mob thugs, gotten in a brawl at a club where illegal boxing matches are staged in the back room, and suffered retaliation in the form of having Wide Bertha looted and the captain's entire stash of money ripped off. The only bright spot is the dalliance with a lovely barmaid that Mick manages to fit in, but even that comes with consequences.

In the climactic final battle, to save his ship and maybe his life, Mick must once more climb into the ring and face the mob's top boxer, a savage technician known to enjoy punishing and pounding his opponents into hamburger before he's through with them . . . But then, he's never faced a street-tough, Irish-stubborn, war-tempered student of Fighting Father Tim before.

Odom's writing and pacing are pitch-perfect, the sense of time and place is solid, and the characters are colorful and memorable. Exciting entertainment not to be missed!

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