Written by: Caleb Arron Tong
I grew up watching professional wrestling. Not the stuff on TV, but real, ringside, small promotion wrestling. The wrestlers were all middle-aged men with cheesy names, costumes, and face paint. My dad was one of these wrestlers. Through him, I got to see what went on behind the scenes at these events, and seeing the dedication and practice that went into making a show work filled me with a passion for the sport. Sure, it’s silly, but the performers treat it like any other art, and they put their health and safety on the line to entertain the crowd. It’s rare for a novel to treat professional wrestling with any respect, so when I find one that does I hold it close. Goon is one of those novels, and probably the best.
In Goon, Captain Phillip Straker is assigned to investigate a series of murders all seemingly connected by one thing: the professional wrestler, Goon, a giant of a man who can take beatings that would kill anyone else. Melinda is a journalist with a vendetta against Goon, and enough knowledge of professional wrestling to get to him. Melinda and Straker team up, and the investigation takes them through the world of professional wrestling – both its flashy surface, and its grimy underbelly.
The writing is solid, well-paced, and hilarious. There’s a chapter in the middle of the novel that is the pinnacle of Lee’s gross-out comedy – one small town cop tortures the other with tales of his sexual exploits — and it had me laughing harder than I ever have at a novel. The humor doesn’t keep the novel from being scary, though, in fact the humor makes it so that, when something horrifying does happen, it catches you off guard. Throw in a heaping scoop of Edward Lee’s trademark gore, and you’ve got one damn good novel, and a fine addition to the collection of any fan of over-the-top horror.