Mel Odom gives you a lot for your money in SMOKER. This original e-book set in 1952 is a boxing yarn with action like you might have found in the pulp FIGHT STORIES, a hardboiled crime story that would have been at home in MANHUNT, and then . . . something else. I can’t go into detail without giving away too much of the plot, but it’s a very nice twist.
Terry Farrell is in the Merchant Marine, and as the story opens he gets the news that his father, a former prizefighter who raised Terry alone after his wife abandoned the family, has died in Los Angeles. When Terry gets back to L.A., he finds out from the neighborhood priest that basically his dad was murdered, beaten to death in a “smoker” fight set up by a mobster. Terry sets out to get revenge and in the process settle his conflicting emotions about his father. However, things don’t turn out exactly like you might expect.
SMOKER is very different from THE AFFAIR OF THE WOODEN BOY, the last Odom e-book I posted about a week or so ago, except in the most important aspect: it’s very entertaining. Crisp, hardboiled prose and a great pace make this pulpish yarn fly by. Fight scenes aren’t that easy to write – how many different ways can you describe a couple of guys slugging each other – but Odom does a fine job of it, and his dialogue is very good, too. SMOKER captures the feel of the early Fifties, too. It’s the precursor to the FIGHT CARD series being developed by Mel and our mutual friend Paul Bishop, and if the stories are anything like SMOKER, I’ll be there for every one of them. In the meantime, for less than a buck you can get some great entertainment. Highly recommended.