Think the organized crime genre is played out? Think you have no interest in a story about professional wrestling? Think again, on both counts.
Author Paul O’Brien’s debut, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, is a magnificent melding of the two, breathing fresh life into an old genre and presenting the late 1960s/early 1970s world of pro wrestling in a light even those who aren’t fans of the sport will find fascinating.
Unfolding over the course of three years, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green weaves together the fates of three primary characters. Having worked himself up from circus strongman to wrestler to territory owner, Proctor King is a man who does not take no for an answer. He’s paid his dues, and King’s ready to collect on his investment. He’ll work with you if he can, but he’s more than happy to run over you if he has to.
Lenny Long is the eternal hanger-on, desperate to break into the money side of the business but stuck on the ring crew. Married with a kid, and another on the way, Lenny’s resorted to providing transportation for some of the wrestlers between gigs and selling them his wife’s homemade sandwiches. To ever be more than a lackey Lenny’s going to have to make a bold move, but doing so may put both his marriage and his life in danger.
Danno Garland inherited his territory from his father, but he has ambitions for the business far beyond anything his old man ever achieved. When he lucks into the discovery of a huge new talent, literally and figuratively, Garland’s willing to make a deal with the devil – or Proctor King as the case may be – to put on the biggest event the wrestling world has ever seen. If everything goes as planned Garland will make history, and a lot of money. If…
Peppered with a colorful cast of supporting characters, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green works on two levels. For those who are fans of a good organized crime story, the business structure of the wrestling territories and how all the owners worked, and occasionally fought, with each other is as complicated and fraught with danger as anything La Cosa Nostra ever conceived. You were just as likely to get a tire iron to the back of the head as you were your piece of the pie if the other members didn’t like how you were doing business.
There’s also the professional wrestling aspect of the story which, you must trust me, is fascinating even if you think the sport is as corny and fake as it gets. (A cop in the story finds out the hard way that calling wrestling “fake” in front of the wrong people can be hazardous to your health.) O’Brien works the history and lingo of the sport into the overall narrative beautifully, showing how those in the business run the gamut from level-headed, hard-working professionals to borderline psychopaths just looking for a legal way to inflict pain. Quite simply, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is an instantly engaging trip through the back rooms and shady deals that formed the backbone of the territorial professional wrestling circuit in its heyday.
But don’t just take my word for it. None other than legendary professional wrestler and accomplished author himself Mick Foley has given the book his seal of approval. Sure, the guy took a lot – and I do mean a lot – of chair shots to the head, but he still knows the goods when he sees it. And Paul O’Brien’s got the goods.
Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is available in both e-book and paperback formats at Amazon.