(I apologize for not having the excellent cover at hand. My computer will not cooperate in getting the image to reproduce. I apologize to Paul especially.)
As someone who grew up in the Forties and Fifties boxing fiction was almost as familiar to me as detective stories and westerns. Hollywood especially loved boxing material. Some of the movies were extraordinary but most were lame and predictable.
When I read about Paul Bishop’s Felony Fists (under the name Jack Tunney) I wanted to read it because Paul is such a good writer and because he set his story in his hometown, Los Angeles in the historically interesting year of 1954 (Joe McCarthy, mob hearings in the Senate and Ike promising to end the Korean war one way or the other, including dropping the big bomb).
Felony Fists give us the era vividly and it also delivers a knock out story with the protagonist police officer (and amateur boxer) Patrick “Felony” Flynn.
Here’s the Amazon description (I do this because a number of you have complained about my lax attempts at summarizing stories—apparently forgetting all the sacrifices I’ve made for this country).
“Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St. Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.
“And his fists are going to give him the chance.
“Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.
“Leading with his chin, and with his partner, LA’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles.”
If I had to categorize Felony Fists I’d call it New Pulp. Yes it’s fast paced, honors many pulp tropes and delivers everything pulp readers require but it’s much more realistic than Old Pulp. For one thing Paul Bishop knows boxing and it shows. He also gives headline names like Mickey Cohen real life.
This is a story that just won’t quit. I read it in two sittings and enjoyed every page. And all it cost me was $2.99. Next in the series is Mel Odom’s Cut Man.