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Ugly As Sin by James Newman
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Ugly As Sin

by James Newman

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I started this novel, my first thought was “why in the world did I request a copy of this book? I have absolutely no interest in the world of wrestling.” However, I rapidly found myself drawn into the story and intrigued by the author’s hero, or, more accurately, anti-hero, Nick Bullman.

Nick, once a professional wrestler of some note, was attacked by a couple of psychos who sliced and diced his face, literally carving it off. Hence, when the story opens he is UGLY AS SIN. At this point in his life, he’s lost everything – his job, his money, and, most notably, his face. However, he gets a chance at redemption when his estranged daughter, who he was never there for, calls to request his help. Her daughter has been kidnapped and Nick, who didn’t even know he was a grandfather, races to the rescue.

None of the people in this story are beautiful. They all have their flaws, some physical and some spiritual. But that’s what makes this story so good. Written in a very noir, pulp fiction-ish style, the novel is a fast-paced, page-turner. The characters are complex, not always likeable, but there is a grittiness to them that is appealing.

I thoroughly enjoyed UGLY AS SIN and will be looking forward to seeing what author, James Newman, comes up with next.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers Program ( )
  splatland | Apr 12, 2017 |
THE WRESTLER meets 8MM, directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Nowadays, Hollywood likes to doll-up its antiheroes, make them all glitzy and rad and fuckable. My hat goes off to James Newman for writing a book about ugly motherfuckers. Ugly on the outside. Ugly on the inside. Just all-around unapologetic and fugly. The most wholesome sonuvabitch in this book is quite literally an ass-face. You'll get the reference when you read the book. I say "when" you read it because if you don't read it, well... you'd be an ass-face.

Ex-wrestler Nick "Widowmaker" Bullman has had one clusterfuck of a life even before his estranged daughter calls him to Midnight, North Carolina to help her find her teenage daughter, Sophie. The plot gets thick quick, like coat-the-back-of-a-spoon thick, and that's just the way I like my stories told. But what stands out the most in this book is the superb level of character development regarding even the smallest of roles. I could see and hear each of the characters (and I hate calling them characters with this book because they felt like real people) clear as day. Even tiny cast members like Claudette and Russo and Little Sister stand out in my mind. Sure, they have their parts to play, but, for the most part, they're bit characters who're only there to serve a single purpose. The thing is, they don't feel like bit characters. That's one hell of a feat, and I applaud the author for his accomplishments.

James Newman pulled off something I cannot stand in fiction without destroying my overall love of this book. I hate happy endings. I did it once, and I doubt I'll ever do it again. For some reason, though, it worked in UGLY AS SIN. Probably because the whole story is so dark and bleak that a little happiness at the end seemed the perfect amount of sweetness to combat the visceral, unrelentingly dark story line.

Newman wrapped this one up nicely, bow and all. I sure as hell didn't see the final reveal coming; I'm speaking of what Nick finds in Daddy's collection at the end. I'm a hard nipple to purple, but Newman provided the right amount of twist. Well played, sir. Well played, indeed.

UGLY AS SIN isn't the best book I've read this year. It's one of the best books I've read, period. It's taken a spot in my top twenty reads of all time. If you want to see what other books are on that list, you can click HERE.

This review does this book no justice. I know that, and when you finish this novel, you'll realize it too. This is, simply put, one of those books that cause even the most verbose bastards alive to wont for words. I'm not exactly speechless, as I've placed quite a few sentences together to form this review, but the content of these paragraphs seem lacking...

Fuck it. James Newman, thank you for one helluva ride into the darkest territory known to present-day homo sapiens - humanity's obsession with beauty and celebrity. It was absolutely my pleasure reading this book. It's one of those stories I would buy twice, and read numerous times. I commend your skill and confidence as a storyteller. This tale in a lesser author's hands would have been a goddamn train wreck.

*slow clap, fade to black* ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
There is a point towards the end of this great story, an occurrence in the narrative which totally amazed me and I can honestly say I had no idea this would happen...until it happened....and if I was to make this known to you dear reader then the surprise and everything that went before would be meaningless......Nick Bullman aka "The Widowmaker" is on a mission of redemption, a quest to discover maybe something deep within himself and in the process make amends to his daughter Melissa for all the long years of neglect and hardship that his non involvement inflicted upon her. In the process Nick discovers that he has a granddaughter Sophie and this big bull of a man must now use all his resources and cunning to rescue her from the hand of kidnappers. Nick bears the scars of a brutal attack and his face has been destroyed in the process, he will never work as "The Widowmaker" again and the discovery of his daughter and hopefully the reunification with his granddaughter will now finally give him some form of peace. This is a superb story part crime part noir with a wonderful list of characters including Mellisa's estranged (now dead) partner Eddie Whiteside, the evil "Daddy", and Leon, The Widowmaker's greatest fan, and newly acquired partner...."Suddenly, Leon erupted with a shrill noise that was part lunatic giggle, part whooping redneck cheer. "Pinch me. cause I gotta be dreamin. The Widowmaker is sitting in my kitchen!".....Nick said "you know those days are long gone, right? I'm not the Widowmaker anymore." "You'll always be Maker to me, man. The greatest grappler who ever lived!" Mr Newman has produced a well written novel with an unusual hero in the form of Nick Bullman and in the final scenes when confronted with his daughters kidnappers the Widowmaker expertly concludes and brings together the themes of the story when he states..."You people are the monsters here," said Nick. "You're the ugly ones."..... ( )
  runner56 | Jan 28, 2014 |
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Faceless ex-wrestler's
Granddaughter gets abducted,
and he kicks some butt.
(yoyogod)

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