Ugly as Sin
“Simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews “Ugly as Sin” by James Newman. 193 pages published by Shock Totem Publications.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
“There will be blood. The hard way, if necessary. That’s right, Nick, I’m giving you permission to work stiff, to shoot if that’s what it takes. I want the fans to feel every brutal, bone-shattering second of this beatdown. I want that goddamn ring to look like the floor of a slaughterhouse once the smoke has cleared.”
Nick Bullman, The Widowmaker, is the biggest Heal in the GWA, perhaps in all of professional wrestling. He’s the undead superstar that the fans love to hate. But when a couple of off balance Marks become a little to invested in The Widowmaker’s in-ring persona and brutally assault him after a show, Nick’s world is destroyed, and nearly ended.
Lance K. McDougal III, the wealthy owner of GWA, has plans of exploiting The Widowmaker’s tragedy, writing up a new character and angle for Nick. He explodes, lashing out, sacrificing everything he has left.
But his past comes roaring back in the form of a phone call and Bullman is pulled from his personal darkness and thrust into a dangerous real-life angle. That call, from a neglected daughter he barely knows, pleading for his help.
And thirty after leaving his home for a career in the squared circle, Nick makes his way back to Midnight, NC, to mend wounds and to help find the missing granddaughter he’s never known. With old wounds are torn open, fresh wounds inflicted, what kind of chance does a broken and damaged man have to solve a mystery that the local police can’t?
“You need to understand, though: I’m not the police. I’m not some private dick. These days I’m just a bouncer with a bum knee and a fucked-up face. Used to be a grappler, so I had a few moves once upon a time. I doubt I’ve got those anymore. The last thing I wanna do is get your hopes up, sweetheart. Promise me you won’t get your hopes up.”
With “Ugly as Sin”, James Newman has delivered another great read. Full disclosure: this is not an in-ring wrestling novel. It is the story of a superstar wrestler grasping at the life he abandoned after his career is taken from him. It’s a heartstring pulling, no-holds-barred thriller populated with a great cast of charismatic & interesting characters. None more memorable than “The Widdowmaker”, Nick Bullman.
This character feels like a flesh and bone person, as this broken man’s pain, physical and mental, nearly bleeds from the page, and the redemption he is unknowingly seeking may just out of reach. You feel for him, for the genuineness and selflessness of his actions. Nick isn’t making choices to get back in the good graces, he’s making choices because they’re the right choices. By the finale you’ll be chanting his name, with your vintage t-shirt on and foam finger in the air.
It won’t take you long to get to the finale as “Ugly as Sin” holds to a fast pace throughout, keeping you, the reader, invested and unable to stop turning the pages. What little down time there is happens to be filled with character and story development. Giving you a solid feel for everyone involved in the tale, even making some of the losses hurt. But know that every character here has a role to play and no one is wasted.
So all in all, a gripping story with a superb damaged hero, a fun supporting cast, some great action scenes and enough gore splatter to keep any genre fan happy, “Ugly as Sin” is one hell of a good time.
“I’m tempted to say you deserve what happened to you, and I’m glad they took your face. But that wouldn’t be very Christian of me. So I won’t.”
There is an “After the Author Bio” stinger here in the form of an interview with Nick Bullman, so keep turning those pages for a quick tease of what’s coming next. Whatever it is, I’m in, fully invested in The Widowmaker.
And let me say this, James, I’d love a short story/ novella concerning Rebel Yell and One-Arm, leading up to their choices, and possibly insight into their life afterwards.
“You dildos are crazier than my third wife,”
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
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