Eric Beetner enters the ring for the third volume in the Fight Card series, and his novella SPLIT DECISION lives up to the high standards set by series creators Paul Bishop and Mel Odom. This one takes place in Kansas City and follows Jimmy Wyler, another graduate of the Chicago orphanage known as "Our Lady of the Glass Jaw".
Jimmy's not any sort of contender. He's just a low-level club fighter content to do his best and save his money so he can marry his beautiful girlfriend Lola. Then one of the local mobsters asks him to take part in a fixed fight, and in a nice twist on what usually happens in boxing fiction, Jimmy's not the one who's supposed to take the dive. He's going to win the fight. Against his better judgment, and motivated by his desire to have enough money to get Lola's engagement ring out of layaway, Jimmy agrees. And of course, that's where things start taking turn after turn for the worst.
Beetner's tale is darker than either of the preceding entries, but it's just as compelling and does a fine job of capturing the era. He has the knack of putting his protagonist in an impossible situation and then making the reader race along to find out how it's going to get even worse. SPLIT DECISION is a prime example of the sort of variety and adventurous storytelling we can expect from the Fight Card series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.