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{Book Review} Rolling Thunder by A.J Devlin

-“Hammerhead” Jed returns with a hilarious and exciting new adventure far out of his element, but he has the two things he needs to back him up: his Irish cousin Declan and banana milkshakes.-

A couple years ago I wrote a review on the initial entry in the “Hammerhead” Jed mysteries, Cobra Clutch, and how much I loved having a mystery set within the world of Professional Wrestling. It was an exciting and unique take on the mystery concept and author A.J Devlin created a world full of flawed, yet quite likable characters.  When I heard that the second book was on the way, I was excited yet very unnerved. You see rather than running around the rainy streets of Vancouver dealing with pro wrestlers, Jed gets mixed up in the Roller Derby universe which is just as over-the-top and bombastic as the WWE ever has been.

Part time pro-wrestler/part time private investigator Jed is tasked with tracking down the manager of a women’s roller derby team, and quickly realizes he is over his head.  Sure it sounds vague, but I am refraining from spoiling much because the returning characters and new venues he finds himself within kept me turning the pages and needing to see what happens in the next chapter.
91EwNuVCaBLWhat I will say is Jed manages to get himself and his cousin Declan into some surprisingly…shall we say unique and intimate situations while trying to dig out of the trouble in which he manages to get himself.

There are several new characters and locations that I expect to pop up in future Jed adventures, especially Troy, a surprisingly lovable stoner kid that gets tied up in Jed’s investigations. I think we may even have a bro-tastic antagonist become very valuable as Jed gets more jobs.

We see the return of quite a few characters from the first book, such as Constable Rya Shepard, as well as a couple cameos that keep us grounded and familiar before diving headfirst into the very unusual world of Roller Derby.
This is where I was worried as a reader. I know the world of pro wrestling and the terminology but Roller Derby is a completely alien beast. It is an aggressive sport dominated by personalities that could easily make Macho Man Randy Savage do a double-take, and it may seem out of place, but it works here. A.J Devlin manages to keep the reader on the same page (pun intended) as Jed is. He is as confused by the roller derby folks as we are, but we learn the ropes as he does.

Rolling Thunder features plenty of action, humor, genuine mystery, wiener dogs, gym rats, bunny puns, greasy talk show hosts, and Shakira, and balances it all with precision.
It never relies on being offensive to give you a sense of a dangerous seedy underworld, instead sucker-punching the reader when something unexpected happens so the reader feels off-balance along with the character.

One thing I wanted to bring up is that I noticed the book reads very well if you aren’t familiar with Jed and his family and friends. When characters or events of the previous book are mentioned, they usually are handled in a manner so a newcomer to the series isn’t confused. I still would suggest reading Cobra Clutch first, but it is far from necessary. If this continues through the rest of series, I will be very happy.

Once again the book clocks in at just the right length-around 280 pages and it feels like a breeze.

Getting more of Jed & Declan together was a highlight of this book, we get some real character growth for Jed, and we are left at a point where Jed may have opened up some doors that cannot be closed again. I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a bit more of Jed’s matches, especially considering some of the people that he runs into are huge fans. I would have liked to see some of the colorful tertiary characters interact at a match myself, but maybe that is being saved for the next adventure.

This is one of the few books I have been given by the author and then purchased digitally as I had to keep reading when I didn’t have access to the paper book.
If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Check out Rolling Thunder and if someone says “They know a place”,  they probably are referring to a Dairy Queen.

(A physical copy of the book was given to me by the author, and I purchased a digital copy on the Kindle store)

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