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Fiction Private Investigators

Five Moves of Doom

by (author) A.J. Devlin

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Private Investigators, General, Hard-Boiled
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Hired by local mixed martial arts trainer Elijah Lennox to find a missing UFC Championship belt, pro-wrestler PI "Hammerhead" Jed must extract answers from the tight-knit MMA community. Still consuming his weight in banana milkshakes, Jed ventures into a world of jewel thieves, bodybuilders, eccentric yoga enthusiasts, and adorable baby goats. As he infiltrates an exclusive and unique no-holds-barred fight club, Jed might just find himself down for the count ...

Five Moves of Doom is a high-altitude and high-attitude entry in A.J. Devlin's award-winning mystery series, one that finds its hero pushed to his absolute limit, relying on his closest allies to survive, and making choices he never thought he'd have to make.

About the author

A.J. Devlin grew up in Greater Vancouver before moving to Southern California where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from Chapman University and a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute. After working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he moved back home to Port Moody, BC, where he now lives with his family.Cobra Clutch, the first book in the "Hammerhead" Jed professional wrestling mystery-comedy series, was released in spring 2018 and nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery and won the 2019 Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.The highly acclaimed sequel, Rolling Thunder, was released in spring 2020 and featured in the Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Globe and Mail, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal Reviews, Mystery Tribune Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine,, and on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers. The third book in the series, Five Moves of Doom, was published in September 2022 by NeWest Press and featured on The House of Mystery Radio Show on NBC. It won the 2022 Crime Fiction Lover Editor's Choice Award for Best Indie Crime Novel, was selected by The Globe and Mail as one of the Best Books of 2022, nominated for the 2023 Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and shortlisted for the 2023 Crime Writers of Canada Howard Engel Award of Excellence for Best Novel Set in Canada.

A.J. Devlin's profile page


  • Nominated, Left Coast Crime: Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  • Short-listed, Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada
  • Winner, Crime Fiction Lovers: Best Indie Novel, Editors Choice

Excerpt: Five Moves of Doom (by (author) A.J. Devlin)


You have a couple of options when you answer the door wearing nothing but a skin-tight pair of André the Giant boxer briefs before being arrested for murder.

ONE: You accept what's happening and fully embrace your shame.

TWO: You man up and rock those undergarments with the same aplomb James Bond would while sipping vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred) at a no-limit baccarat table in the Casino de Monte-Carlo.

I attempted to pull off the latter and tried to puff out my hairy chest, which was suddenly itchy as hell. I also quickly real¬ized my torso was long overdue for a trim.

"Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug ain't got nothing on you, Big Guy. And while I'm sure a bunch of tabloids will duke it out for the privilege of splashing this iconic pose all over the cover of a future issue, I'd hardly call that bulge the Eighth Wonder of the World."

Vancouver Police Department Homicide Detective Constable Rya Shepard, flanked by two uniformed officers, tugged on the lapels of her tan pantsuit blazer before nodding toward my junk and rolling her eyes.

"Hello, Rya. You seem chipper." I grabbed a T-shirt and pair of track pants on the banister beside me and slipped them on faster than it takes a piece of weakened two-by-four western red cedar to break in half over my forehead after winning a wrestling match.

"Detective Shepard?" asked one of the uniformed officers beside the woman I had long loved with feelings I had never shared.

Rya sighed audibly before looking downwards. "Cuff him."

One of the cops strutted forward, yanked my wrists behind my back, and handcuffed me while his partner pulled a laminated card from a pouch on his police duty belt and proceeded to read aloud my rights. "John Edward Ounstead, AKA "Hammerhead" Jed Ounstead. You are hereby under arrest for the murder of--"

I couldn't take it anymore. "What the hell, Rya?!?"

"Don't make this any harder than it has to be," she said, hang¬ing her head.

I clenched my jaw as Officer Tweedle-Dumb snapped on the metal restraints.

"This isn't a heel turn, Detective. You know me. I'm not a murderer."

Rya crossed her arms and finally looked me in the eye. "I hope you're right, Jed."

"Hope? What happened to trust?"

She turned her back to me. "Take him away," she said softly to the officers.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Five Moves of Doom:
"A.J. Devlin does it again with Five Moves of Doom! It's fast and furious and fun, full of action, unexpected twists and turns, with a shocking ending that proves once again that Devlin is not only on his game, but in a league of his own. The best yet in the 'Hammerhead' Jed series."
-- Dave Butler, Crime Writers of Canada Award-Winning author of Full Curl, No Place for Wolverines, and In Rhino We Trust
"I ripped through Devlin's latest. At times I felt I was in an MMA fight with dialogue as dry as a three olive Martini and descriptive prose peppering me with blows and throws. It may be a cliché, but this book's a knockout."
-- M.N. Grenside, film/TV/music producer and author of Fall Out"A.J. Devlin nails it with his explosive, hard-hitting fight scenes. A well-written and entertaining look into the most interesting sport in the world -- Mixed Martial Arts -- through the eyes of tough guy PI, 'Hammerhead' Jed!"
-- Gerry Gionco, legendary Canadian fight promoter
"This time around, 'Hammerhead' Jed isn't the toughest guy on the block, and the adrenaline-pounding excitement when his investigation leads him to square off against a particularly ruthless and brutal MMA fighter brings to mind Rocky vs. Drago. Bigger, badder, and darker, Devlin's third installment reveals a deeper and more vulnerable side of our favourite wrestler-detective, adding gravitas to a case involving a world where second place often means death."
-- J.T. Siemens, critically-acclaimed author of To Those Who Killed Me
"Five Moves of Doom is a fast-paced, rollicking rip through the vibrant and seedy neighbourhoods of Vancouver and surrounding area. With Devlin's usual cast of colourful, eclectic characters along with his equally colourful regular cast -- including 'Hammerhead' Jed, cousin Declan, and VPD Detective Rya Shepard -- this adventure took me back to many familiar haunts in Vancouver's skid row and some of the outlying regions around the city and the Lower Mainland. MMA, murder, mayhem and money make this a can't miss!"
-- Joel Johnston, retired 28-year VPD Sergeant, Shotokan Karate and MMA Practitioner, Use of Force Subject Matter Expert, Writer and Technical Advisor "It's a case of same place, different terrain as Vancouver's pro-wrestler PI grapples with new threats that force him to confront dark truths about his city and himself. In Five Moves of Doom, Devlin showcases a more vulnerable 'Hammerhead' Jed than we've seen before. While this installment features the signature comedy and charm of the first two books, it's the shadows, spilling from corners and pooling at feet, that give this latest mystery its true shape. A worthy cap to this trilogy."
-- Niall Howell, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize-Nominated author of Only Pretty Damned and There Are Wolves Here Too

"Five Moves of Doom is violent, [but] also thoughtful as Jed searches for answers to his own life, with his father and Declan as strange guides to life...I love this series."

~ Lesa Holstine, Mystery Writers of America 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Raven Award Winner

"Compelling, engrossing, thought provoking, yet still humorous, Five Moves of Doom

is a brilliant look at what happens when you reach rock bottom. Grab a banana milkshake and be prepared for the ride of a lifetime."

~ Kathleen J. Kaminski, Cozy Up With Kathy

"Five Moves of Doom is pure crime fiction entertainment...the kind of novel we like to point to when we talk about independent publishing and how it feeds vibrant new material into the crime fiction scene."

~ Crime Fiction Lover Blog

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