When retired pro wrestler Alex Donovan sees his best friend, former world champion 'The Wild Child' Ray Wilder, gunned down in the street, he's drawn back into a world of spandex, spangles, and spotlights in order to find the killer. As Donovan digs deeper into Ray's life, he realizes that the list of people who wanted Ray dead seems endless.
Battling his aging, failing body, Donovan feels honor-bound to avenge Ray's death when no one else seems to care. His guilt over escaping the wrestling business to build a new life when Ray couldn't - or wouldn't - drives him to find the killer, no matter if it's friend or foe.
Living the Gimmick uses the backdrop of pro wrestling in the 1980s and its current climate to examine the strained bonds of a lifelong friendship and how an all-too-real abuser can exist without scrutiny in a showbiz world full of fake tough guys and choreographed fighting
Early Praise for Living the Gimmick
"LIVING THE GIMMICK is a bruising romp about pro wrestling, friendship, betrayal, and the lies we let ourselves believe. Bobby Mathews' career as a journalist serves him well in his debut novel; the prose is punchy, the atmosphere pungent. Mathews depicts a world of scripted violence, of showmanship and pain, where the truth is hidden behind the glam and glitter."
-Chris Swann, USA Today bestseller, winner of Southern Living's Best Southern Books of 2017 Award
"Mathews's impressive debut murder mystery is as much a gritty homage to the excessive, violent, glam rock world of professional wrestling as it is a testimony of how it's evolved from its oftentimes ruthless heyday to the glitzy entertainment machine it is now. LIVING THE GIMMICK is a headlock wrapped in noir sensibilities as it slams down a universal question: how much do we really know the ones we love and trust?"
-Heather Levy, author WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES
"High-class writing about hard-luck people. Timely, bold and brutal. Bobby is a writer to watch."
-Libby Cudmore, author of THE BIG REWIND
"At times a wild and surreal trip through the subculture of old school pro wrestling and at other times a deft love letter to the passions that drive us all, LIVING THE GIMMICK is a rollicking good time. Bobby Mathews obviously loves three things: The South, pro wrestling, and a good mystery."
-S.A. Cosby, NY Times bestselling author of RAZORBLADE TEARS
"Mathews writes in smooth, almost transparent strokes that propel the narrative along with such force, you'll read the entire novel in one sitting. The seedy world of wrestling and the badasses who populate it come alive on the page. Kayfabe? Hardly. This is as real and gritty as noir gets."
-Hank Early, author of HEAVEN'S CROOKED LITTLE FINGER
"Mathews has written a glorious, noir-steeped homage to pro wrestling, all the more remarkable in its ardent fidelity. LIVING THE GIMMICK rocks hard."
-Laird Barron, author of Blood Standard