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{Book Review} Cobra Clutch by A.J Devlin

-A compelling roller coaster mystery in the pro wrestling world.-

Those of you that know me, know I love to write. Just about pretty much anything that strikes my fancy. One of those fancies is Wrestling. Pro Wrestling to be exact, also known as “Wrasslin'”,”You really watch that garbage?”, or “You know it’s fake right?”

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Funnily enough, it wasn’t something I really got into until my 20’s thanks to a friend who introduced me to it through a trading card game called Raw Deal. Since then I have

been hooked, consuming any and all pro wrestling media from weekly TV programming to imported shows from overseas. The most fun I

had was exploring the gritty world of the territory era of the 1970’s through mid 1980’s through books written by the wrestlers. Part of my excitement was exploring stories of carny-like underbelly of their world and trying to discern what is real, what is exaggerated and what was written just to expand on a character’s backstory.

Until I discovered Cobra Clutch, I didn’t realize that there is a serious lack of fiction that focuses on the unique setting of the professional wrestling world. Granted there are plenty of romantic stories featuring the Hardy Boyz becoming in erotic situations with The Undertaker and Tommy Dreamer as Kane “Turns up the heat”….ahem.

Cobra Clutch scratches that itch with a modern-day mystery featuring a retired pro wrestler named “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead, who is on the case of a kidnapped snake that belonged to a fellow 80’s wrestler. Of course this proves to be much more complicated than expected and Jed finds himself returning to the often-seedy underbelly of the Canadian independent professional wrestling scene to uncover the truth.

This basic premise is the perfect opening to what hopefully will be expanded upon in future books. The author shows a passion for professional wrestling that results in a very authentic-feeling world full of colorful characters, twists and turns and plenty of banana milkshakes.  As the story unfolds, you don’t feel that this is a side trip to the protected and secretive universe of professional wrestling, but an integral part of Jed’s character. One he thought he would be rid of, for very personal reasons.

The story has more than just a mystery to offer; the characters that occupy Jed’s circle of acquaintances, antagonists, and suspects are colorful but believable. One of them in particular, the vulgar Declan St. James stands out and brings some much-needed humor to the proceedings. In fact, Declan is so well-written that he feels like he could get his own series of stories. Prequels, sequels, kid’s books, I’ll happily read them.

Cobra Clutch is a pretty brisk read at 250ish pages, and once the story kicks into gear, it doesn’t stop until the end. I found myself pushing forward for just one more chapter to see how things turn out. Speaking of which, the chapters were very short for the most part, maybe between 5-12 pages each which is a perfect length for someone that doesn’t have huge chunks of time to spend reading.

I certainly hope that we see more adventures in this universe. Even if it isn’t specifically focused on Jed, I feel that the seeds are in place for a rich world that lends itself to extended exploration.

On that note, I think I need to see if Dairy Queen is still open, I have a hankering for a banana milkshake and some wrestling matches from the 80’s.

*A copy of the book was provided to me by the author.*

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