The latest entry in the Fight Card series continues the string of overall excellence in this on-going project masterminded by Paul Bishop and Mel Odom. HARD ROAD, which was written by Kevin Michaels under the Jack Tunney house-name, is the story of Roberto Varga, another two-fisted graduate of St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Chicago. Roberto has moved to Philadelphia, where he’s carved out a decent career as a boxer, although no one considers him a legitimate contender for the middleweight crown, least of all his girlfriend Ginny, who wants him to give up the ring and get a real job.
Roberto has always been haunted by an early loss to Michael Boyle, another alumnus of St. Vincent’s, but one who didn’t take all of Father Tim’s teachings to heart the way Roberto did. When Roberto gets a chance at a rematch with Boyle that might prove to be a stepping stone to a title shot, he’s eager to seize the opportunity, but life proves to be more complicated than that and leaves him facing some hard choices.
I’m not familiar with Kevin Michaels or his work, but he does a fine job in HARD ROAD, handling not only the fight scenes with polished ease but also the quieter, more emotional moments as well. He captures the 1957 setting vividly, too, and I really enjoyed his style. The Fight Card books are all stand-alones, at least so far, so you can jump in anywhere. If you haven’t sampled these yet, HARD ROAD would be a fine place to start.