Rassler’s Dozen: The Year of Wrangling Sibs
Shirlee Sargent is an out-of-work actress, purse addict, deeply in debt, with her best years starting to slip behind her. She lives day-to-day getting by with the promise of a big part or series or gig right around the corner. Then, one day, she gets a knock on the door. The father she never knew turns out to have been the famous wrestler Danny “The Irish Masher” O’Day. His son became quite wealthy, then died himself, leaving a will with a stipulation: The money should be split evenly among all of Danny O’Day’s children. As the nearest descendant to the law offices, Shirlee is sent out to find as many of the offspring of O’Day as possible in just one year.
The problem is that Danny was quite a… prolific figure… and as a wrestler, he traveled the country quite often, leaving liaisons and one-night stands all across the country. What follows is a fun romp full of memorable characters. Shirlee is a whirlwind of optimism, with a friendly style that draws other characters to her side. In the same way that a child might try a difficult task and somehow make it work, so does Shirlee, as she chats with store owners and snowplow drivers and somehow manages to hunt down the family she never had before.
The characters are what make this book shine. They resemble the late-night television of their father’s wrestling. Z-list actors, strippers, psychics, detectives, used car dealers. And, while the characters might seem low-rent, they are treated with a level of dignity. They all have stories, as with all dysfunctional families. Even the nominal “bad guy,” Vlad (who runs a late-night horror movie show where he comments on the actions and bites heads off chickens) has a plausible backstory and is more petty and unpleasant than nasty. The strippers and used car saleswomen are people just trying to get by with what they have, and Shirlee just bursts into their life without judging.
With its breezy writing and tales of roadtrips and various cities, this is a great novel for the beach or on your own road trip to check in with scattered family.
Gatto Matto Publishing