Ugly as Sin by James Newman

Ugly As Sin - 'James Newman',  'Shock Totem'


First off, take a look at this great cover! The reader has no idea what it is supposed to mean or represent, but all of that becomes clear as the story continues. I have always loved covers that represent some aspect of the story in a real and meaningful way. This one does that, and does it well. 


Now, regarding the story. I thought it was quite a unique one. Books about former professional wrestling stars are normally not something that would interest me at all. But here, in our protagonist Nick, we have a man who has been to hell and back and is still hanging on. Just barely, but he is. Nick's wrestling career as the "Widowmaker" goes right into the garbage can after a severe criminal incident changes his life forever. Since during that career he invested none of his time or love on a family, he finds himself truly alone and lost. Then he receives a phone call from his daughter and his life, again, changes forever.


I loved the character of Nick. He was an excellent protagonist. Humble, flawed and honest. The reader cannot help but root for him. The antagonists in this novel are not so well fleshed out or clear, but I didn't need them to be. I knew enough about them to hate their guts as much as Nick did, and I wanted to see them buy the farm in a  big way. 


Not everything in this story turned out as I expected and I love when that happens. The only nitpicking complaint that I have about this book is that the ending wrapped up a little too quickly for me. I might have enjoyed letting it play out just a little bit longer. It really is a nitpicking complaint, so it resulted in only a half star deduction. 


Another thing that I really enjoyed was listening to the playlist that James has created for this novel. You can find the playlist at his blog here:  (The date of the post was January 5, 2013.) This is the first time I've read a book with an accompanying musical playlist. As a HUGE fan of the blues and rock n roll in general, this really worked for me. It added a musical level to the book that I've never known before. Some of these songs were mentioned in the book and some of them just added to the overall atmosphere of the story. I think that having a playlist for the book was a brilliant idea. I hope that anyone who reads this story will check out some of these songs and experience it all together as I did.


If you have not read anything by Mr. Newman, I suggest you start. I've read almost everything he has available in digital form and I've not yet been disappointed. I highly recommend this novel for fans of horror, humor, humanity and reading, in general. It's not easily categorized as the horror is sometimes subtle and not only directed at the villains, but on certain aspects of society as well.  Maybe I will just say "Highly Recommended" and leave it at that.