Also available as an ebook from
About this book
- Winner of the Best First Crime Novel at the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards!
- Nominated for a Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel!
- #1 Edmonton Bestseller!
- Available as an audiobook: Audible, Hoopla, OverDrive, Audiobooks.com, Scribd, eStories, Downpour, Libro FM, All Lit Up, Kobo, Recorded, Google, and Apple.
“Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead thought he’d traded the pro-wrestling world for the slightly less dangerous one of a bar bouncer and errand boy for his father’s detective agency, but the squared circle wasn’t quite done with him yet. When his former tag-team partner draws upon their old friendship for help in finding his kidnapped pet snake, Jed finds himself dragged back into the fold of sleazy promoters, gimmicky performers, and violence inside and outside the ring. As the venom of Vancouver’s criminal underworld begins to seep into Jed’s life, a steel chair to the back of the head is the least of his problems.
Cobra Clutch is a fast-paced, hard-hitting debut novel by A.J. Devlin that features an unstoppable combo: a signature move of raucous humour with a super finisher of gritty realism.
Excerpt from Chapter One
I pointed at the tattoo of a yellowish-brown python spiraling around one of his sinewy forearms.
“Oh, yeah. I got inked for Ginger’s birthday a few months back. I’ve had her for three years now, Jed. I make my entrances with her around my neck and keep her ringside during my matches and everything. I can’t wrestle without her.”
“Any idea why someone would want to take your snake?” I asked, handing back the photo.
“Christ, I don’t know. You’re the private investigator.”
“I’m a bouncer, Johnny. Not a PI.”
“That’s not what I’ve heard.”
“My old man is the one with the licence. I just help him with some of the leg work from time to time.”
“So do some leg work for me now and help me get Ginger back. You should have seen the cops this morning, man. They laughed at me while I filled out the theft report.”
“I’m sorry, bub,” I replied earnestly. “I can’t help you.”
Johnny gripped my forearm as I stood.
“Baton Rouge, man.”
My heart skipped a beat. “That was a long time ago.”
“You owe me.”
“You sure you want to play this card?”
“I am. I got nowhere else to go.”
"A fast-paced, funny, energetic debut that brings to mind Carl Hiassen and Robert Crais. In Cobra Clutch, Devlin ingeniously merges the worlds of pro wrestling and private eyes into a breakneck adventure that will leave readers breathless. Intense and cinematic.”
"Hilarious, full of mischief and mayhem, Cobra Clutch is thoroughly entertaining!"
"… high-pitched violent action sequences, daring escapes, and a thrilling climax."
"Cobra Clutch masterfully blends humor, mystery, thrills, action, romance, and heart into a hell of a story featuring a lively wrestler-turned-PI hero. The action scenes are intense, the quiet times heartwarming and engaging, and the humor expertly interjected to accentuate characters and breathe realism into the story." full review
"… an outstanding debut." full review
"Set in Vancouver, BC, this intriguing debut offers a fast-paced, graphically violent mystery that pairs well with Glen Erik Hamilton’s Past Crimes. Fans of pro wrestling will appreciate “Hammerhead” Jed." full review
"Cobra Clutch is a terrific novel, bringing the seamier side of Vancouver to life, while amusing us with witty dialogue, startling characters and amazing plot twists." full review
"Part Road House, part No Holds Barred. All badass."
"Fast paced witty dialogue, off beat humor, and plenty of action pump up this debut mystery." full review
"[A.J. Devlin] shows a passion for professional wrestling that results in a very authentic-feeling world full of colorful characters, twists and turns and plenty of banana milkshakes. As the story unfolds, you don’t feel that this is a side trip to the protected and secretive universe of professional wrestling, but an integral part of Jed’s character." full review
"Fans of Jack Reacher and 1980s action movies will happily add Hammerhead Jed to their list of favorite heroes." full review
"Great escapism, great vicarious head-knocking, as well as lots of laughs along the way."
“Great rollicking mystery / thriller / crime novel from AJ Devlin, a fantastic first novel. Loved the first sentence and it only got better from there. AJ does action well, along with excellent descriptions of Vancouver scenes, gritty and not-so-gritty. Can’t wait for the next one!”
"Cobra Clutch uses humor and gritty realism and includes a former tag-team partner, a kidnapped snake, sleazy promoters, and violence inside and outside the ring."
"Pro-wrestlers, scuzzy bikers, a yellow pet python, and a private detective—how does Devlin hold it all together in this gritty page-turning debut novel? With a whole lot of style and a splattering of tongue-in-cheek humour." full review
"Jed infiltrates the sleazy world of pro-wrestling and grapples with the dangerous Vancouver underworld in this engaging debut thriller, a finalist for the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery."
"Now this is what I like. A fast-paced and funny ride with a great new PI." full review