I have to admit I am biased. It is no secret that I have written a Fight Card novel and have spent the last six months reading fight fiction and watching boxing movies. Therefore one could reasonably say, that my objectivity on A Mouth Full of Blood is compromised. I beg to differ. I think it means that I have now read and watched the best and the worst, and that puts me in the perfect position to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of such material.
Without a word of a lie – and this is a pretty big claim – I think Eric Beetner’s latest addition to the Fight Card series, A Mouth Full of Blood is the best in the series so far. Like I said, it’s a big claim, because there have been some damn good stories in the series (humility forbids that I talk about how King of the Outback stacks up against the others – I will leave that to other critics).
A Mouth Full of Blood is a perfect balance of action and drama, and the characters are believable. Furthermore you actually care about them, willing them to come through at the end. The hero, Jimmy Wyler first appeared in Split Decision (which was released last November). However, no prior knowledge of the events in Split Decision is required to enjoy this tale.
A Mouth Full of Blood finds Jimmy back in his home town Chicago, working as a dishwasher at a small diner. One of his co-workers is a fifteen year old boy, Leo – whose home life is monstrous. His father is an abusive alcoholic, and his sister has failed to come home for the past five nights.
Leo explains she has been taken by a villainous pimp named Flip, aided and abetted by his gang of switch-blade minions. They intend to turn her out onto the streets as a prostitute. Jimmy decides to help Leo and his family to get her back.
The fight scenes in the novel are vivid and well described (almost cinematic), and it is easy to follow the action. However a fight scene is nothing without the characters having a strong motivation to fight, and the human drama in this tale is top rate, making the stakes inside the ring, all that more important.
And maybe that the key to A Mouth Full of Blood. I have talked about it being fight fiction, which it is – however it is the human drama that makes the story work, and therefore I think you don’t have to be a boxing fan to enjoy this story at all. It is about the characters, one of whom, just happens to be an ex-boxer. So if you have been tip-toeing around the Fight Card series, thinking that you’re not that interested in reading about sweaty men slugging it out in a ring, then this may very well be a book for you. Yes, there is fighting in it, but at heart, it’s just a great story. I think author, Eric Beetner has delivered a slab of first class entertainment regardless of genre. Highly recommended.