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4.8 out of 5 stars
Blood Red Turns Dollar Green
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2012
Paul O'Brien has developed wonderful characters in his debut novel, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green. Opening with a dazed and confused Lenny, who has no idea what caused the accident which left him holding a shoe with someone's foot still inside, far less how he came to be carrying a passenger he really shouldn't have been anywhere near, the novel hits the ground running from the very first paragraph.

Staggering to a payphone, Lenny makes a call that causes the wrestling world to implode and the story then goes back in time, to long before the accident takes place. From that point on, we follow the fortunes of Danno Garland and his various wrestlers and employees, of whom Lenny is one, until we eventually catch up with the accident. The final part of the novel shows the aftermath, with Danno desperately trying to save his disintegrating empire.

Set during the sixties and seventies, when professional wrestling was fixed and run by those with the muscle to keep the ill-gotten gains to themselves, Danno had frequently been promised a share of the top flight rewards, but had always been pushed out.

When he makes a deal with the devil in the form of Proctor King, his fortunes change for the better. But there is always a heavy price to pay for doing business on the sly and Danno soon finds out that the price is higher than he ever dreamed possible.

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is more than a novel about wrestling and crime. It is a wonderful portrayal of the people - their lives, loves, businesses, losses and heartbreaks. I am not a wrestling fan, but this book held my interest all the way through.

On the negative side, the formatting lets it down and the whole is in need of proofreading to fix the incorrectly facing dialogue marks and other punctuation issues.

I see from the final page that a sequel is in the offing. I'll look forward to finding out what Danno does next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2012
Lenny is a `mark' A long time wrestling fan who wants `in'. Paul O' Brian's fantastic debut crime novel opens with Lenny in a more than somewhat dazed and confused state after being involved in a car accident. The smartly woven story then moves backwards and forwards across the US and from the early `70s to the late `60s, and then back again, until it reaches a magnificent adrenaline pumping finale. Blood Turns Dollar Green has a rich cast of characters including a supposedly mute and South African giant, and a colourful cornucopia of gangsters and low - lifes. Brilliant.
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on 2 August 2012
Taken from the website I write for:

In our first ever novel review, we tackle a tale of deception, double crosses and above all else, money. Irish crime writer Paul O'Brien plunges into the murky waters of the late sixties and early seventies world of professional wrestling and emerges with an instant classic on his hands. Oh, and blood. Lots and lots of blood.

BLOOD RED TURNS DOLLAR GREEN is a book about wrestling. Except it isn't. It's an organised crime novel then, except it's not really one of those either. Perhaps it's a study in how far the human body and mind can be stretched before it reaches some kind of breaking point, yet it's never explicitly clear just how much of the physical and emotional pain is real. It's a character study of three men who are desperately trying to remember where the character ends and the man begins.

Set in the heavily protected wrestling industry of the sixties and seventies, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is a fascinating portrayal of the lengths two promoters will go to in order to keep the world title in their territory. Danno Garland of New York and Proctor King of Florida form an uneasy alliance that seems doomed from the start, but as with everything else in this novel, nothing is quite as it seems. Caught somewhere in the middle is Lenny Long, an outsider looking for a way in.

The word `Kayfabe' is thrown around a lot in the novel. We all know that word, right? A carny term used in wrestling to mean the protection of reality within the industry. And whilst the wrestlers and promoters huddle together to keep out the `marks' such as Lenny , so too author O'Brien closes ranks around his two key protagonists Danno and Proctor, always leaving the reader second guessing their motives. As Lenny slowly starts to work his way through the minefield of the business, so too our own understanding of it starts to evolve. . In many ways he symbolises the modern, so called `smart mark' fans we have all become. Sometimes he thinks he knows more than he does. Sometimes he turns down a blind alley and gets a sucker punch for his troubles. Sometimes he knows more than he thinks.

And it's this constant drip feed of clues and misinformation that makes the novel so engaging. It's so hard to put down because of the feeling that the next chapter may well be the key to understanding the whole sordid affair. It's an uneasy read at times, the language makes it strictly for adult eyes only, and the violence is blunt. Nobody comes out smelling of roses, everybody has their angle.

There is plenty that wrestling fans will recognise in the book. There are shades of the whole Bret vs Shawn saga, a definite nod to Vince McMahon's Machiavellian tendencies and is that a Kerry Von Erich reference? Yet, as cliché as it is to say it, I'm going to. "You don't have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy Blood Red Turns Dollar Green!" There have been attempts in the past to write novels based in the world of professional wrestling but this is the first I have ever read that feels authentic. It's neither patronising to the reader nor is it so far up it's own rear end that only hardcore wrestling fans will understand.

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is a book about wrestling and everything that statement implies. It's genuinely one of the best books I have read this year which is a very welcome surprise. It's a captivating read from start to finish which deserves a place on your bookshelf...just don't blame us if you're not entirely sure which books to surround it with.
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on 5 May 2012
This is a story injected with enough male-testosterone to keep book-reading action junkies on a high from cover to cover. The author has chosen America's pro-wrestling scene of the seventies as the backdrop for Blood Red Turns Dollar Green, a tale that is compelling from start to finish.

The opening scene paves the way for a plunge into the seamier side of the wrestling industry, with guns, hoodlums, and shady dealings pervading a story that pushes the boundaries of realism. It's set in an era when titles were bought, sold and voted on, rather than being won in the ring. With big money at stake, it's hardly surprising the central characters will go to any lengths to `own' the champion.

O'Brien tells it with the conviction of someone who knows his subject and is not afraid to tackle some taboos. As a result he delivers a smart and thought-provoking yarn that will have you rooting for all kinds of outcomes. It deserves a top rating, and is unlikely to disappoint anyone looking to be informed and entertained all at the same time.
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on 22 May 2012
An exciting book that delves into the mirky depths of professional wrestling back in the day. Through Proctor and Danno we're let 'in' on the business and through Lenny we see what devotion to the business and a desire to get in can do to a man (and his loved ones). Will Danno and Proctor be able to work together to make some serious money and will Lenny's devotion pay off? These questions spur us on through a story that keeps us guessing until the end - just like a good wrestling match! Characters like the loyal Ricky who's both violent and caring and the mute, South African monster Babu all make the world of this twisiting tale very interesting indeed. Well worth a read. I'm looking forward to the next book from Paul O' Brien.
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on 10 June 2012
Personally, as a scriptwriter i'm not much of a novel reader but after hearing great things about this debut novel from a local writer i had to give it a shot. And i was hooked. This book is jam-packed with twists and turns, intriguing, powerful and poignant moments that made it un-put-down-able. Got trough it in three days. Top notch thrill. Read this if you love gangsters, read it if you love wrestling, read it if you love great novels. At the back of the book there is a hint that there may be a chance of a series of these books and i cannot wait to see what these fiendish and yet determined characters get up to in the future
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on 13 October 2014
I'd heard a lot of good things about this book set in the murky world of professional wrestling in the late 60's and early 70's and I'm very pleased to say that the hype was indeed justified. This is a cracker of a story populated with the kind of characters and situations that would sit well in an Elmore Leonard novel. In fact the highest praise I can give is to say that Blood Red Turns Dollar Green may well be the best novel that Leonard didn't write. I'm eagerly awaiting delivery of volume 2 to see where this twisted tale will go next.
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on 10 October 2014
This book was an absolute treat. I've been a huge wretling fan for close to 30 years, and have spent significant time over the past five years learning about the territory system and the history of wrestling. Paul explores the system will amazing description and story telling, and has creates some of the most interesting characters I have ever invested my time and emotion in. There is no wonder stars of the business are pouring a claim on these works.

My only advice... Buy this book now!
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on 2 May 2012
From its opening lines this book will draw you in, defying any doubts you may have had to the contrary. Paul O'Brien is a very skillful writer with a great feel for his characters, and it is a fantastic debut novel. I was totally involved from page 1 and as the characters come to life and the whole scenario develops you just have to keep turning the pages. Well done Paul O'Brien - I would happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read.
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Very enjoyable thriller. Ideal for wrestling marks/fans. Reminded my of Budd Schulberg's The Harder They Fall which is a classic boxing/gangster inspired story from the 40's in a similar vain. He has used all his vast background knowledge to great effect. Read it in 2 days and will now buy book 2 and book 3, when it's out. TV version could also be very good if done right. Not as good as Eoin Colfer but better than Derek Landy!!!
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