Headlock

Adam Berlin, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $21.95 (265p) ISBN 978-1-56512-266-6
Twin addictions overlap in Berlin's noir, on-the-road debut novel. Odessa Rose, the narrator, has become something of a serial assaulter, attacking men in bars in New York City. When the reader first meets ""Dess,"" he's parking cars in a garage in the Big Apple. He went to college on a wrestling scholarship, but his behavior there was dicey: after losing a wrestling match, he publicly battered his opponent with a chair and was nearly expelled. Dess's father is an academic. His younger brother, Derek, is the one making A's at Harvard while Dess is the family ""failure."" But then there's his cousin, Gary, a 400-pound gambler. Gary doesn't eat; he binges. Yet Dess's obese relative seems the instrument of his release when Gary asks Dess to accompany him as he drives his Jaguar to Las Vegas. Dess's boss at the parking lot refuses to give him time off, so Dess beats the man, then sets out with Gary on a cross-country tour. Eventually, Gary's motive for requesting Dess's company is revealed: Gary owes $100,000 in gambling debts, and he's going to be popped if he doesn't come up with the cash. When they reach Las Vegas, Dess helps Gary ""count cards"" at the blackjack table. Things veer out of control when a hit man with blue sunglasses shows up. Although the trajectory of Dess and Gary's plight is a little too predictably Hollywood, Berlin displays a nice, quirky sense of dialogue, and his violent scenes are etched with convincing--if sometimes gruesome--detail. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 265 pages - 978-1-56512-748-7
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