on January 9, 2012
On the surface, SMOKER is an exciting, skillfully written story with a boxing background--another homage to the "fight stories" from the pages of the old pulp magazines, and quite in keeping with the "Fight Card" series of short novels that Mr. Odom has launched with Paul Bishop. The action and pulpy feel are certainly here. But what SMOKER really is, is a love story--the love between a father and a son.
Merchant seaman Terry Farrell is notified of his father's passing and called home to L.A. Once there, he learns that his father had died fighting in a "smoker"--and illegal type of boxing match held in cramped back rooms where the cigarette smoke gets so thick people are hardly able to breathe. The man who literally beat Terry's father to death, as told to Terry by a neighborhood priest, is possessed of great evil and an almost unworldly physical endurance. For Terry to seek revenge for his father by going up against this same man seems almost certain suicide. But, when the time comes, Terry discovers an other-worldly power of his own, from the unlikeliest of sources ...
The action comes fast, the settings and sense of time and place are vivid, and the writing flows smoothly. But the real strength here is in the emotion and character depth. Exciting, excellent work. Highly recommended.
on December 17, 2011
Smoker is a short story, only about forty-five pages, but it represents one of the great things about eBooks. In days of yore, its length it would have always made it cost prohibitive to print. Unless it popped up in an anthology, or in a magazine, this story would have gone unread, which would be criminal.
As a boxing story, of course it's tough as nails, but, and this is probably a boy thing, the story as it climaxes is extremely moving. I'm too tough to tell you that I had tear welling in my eye, so I wont! And I won't outline too much of the plot, as it is only a short story, and I don't want to ruin the surprises the fable has in store. But quickly, the story concerns a Merchant Marine named Terry Farrell, who, while in Singapore, receives word that his father is dead and he should return home.
Farrell does, and finds out that his father was killed in an illegal boxing match - known as 'Smokers' because they take place in dingy back rooms which fill up with cigarette and cigar smoke from the patrons that pay to watch the fights. Of course, Farrell goes looking for answers.
The thing is, this is not just another boxing story. There's a bit more going on here. As a lazy comparison, Smoker is like a cross between author, Mel Odom's The Cutman fused with (trying to be a tad cryptic so as not to spoil it) blues legend Robert Johnson.
If you're reading and enjoying The Fight Card series, then add this to your 'To Be Read' pile too. You'll be glad you did.