Adam Berlin

Headlock

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“A powerful debut novel” following two cousins on a dangerous road trip from New York to Las Vegas (Booklist, starred review).
Odessa Rose is the kind of guy who gives the term “hair-trigger temper” a whole new meaning. His violent nature has, more than once, produced blood. Dess was a college wrestling star who blew it all just shy of graduation when he lost a match and beat another wrestler to a pulp. Since his inglorious dismissal from college, he’s been parking cars for a living in downtown New York.
It’s there that his cousin Gary finds him and lures him away to Las Vegas. Gary has some uncontrollable impulses of his own: hugely overweight, he’s a compulsive gambler, playing fast and loose with thousands of dollars. But now there’s an enforcer tailing him, a sunglasses-wearing thug who has no trouble breaking hands, arms, legs. Gary needs protection in Vegas. Who better than his strong, volatile cousin Dess?
What do you do when you’re at a crossroads in life? When you want to be a different person than the one who’s made all the wrong choices? When your strength has become your greatest weakness? Headlock is “a brutal and potent debut novel . . . A grim, suspenseful drama to the end” (Valley Advocate).
“Odessa Rose has a violent temper and a wrestler’s strength, both inherited from his Russian immigrant grandfather, having skipped the generation of his father the economics professor . . . Gary’s uncontrolled appetites and Dess’s uncontrolled anger add to the tension of the trip, which is really about self-examination and redemption. The cousins struggle with the Rose family legend of a grandfather who fought hard and worked hard for the sake of the family, a family from which they are alienated. A powerful debut novel with fascinating characters.” —Booklist, starred review
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240 printed pages
Original publication
2000

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