Death In The Arena

Rated 3.67/5 based on 9 reviews
A decade-old vengeance coursed through John Studebaker’s veins.
Everyone and everything counseled against it.
But in the end, did he really have a choice? He was who he was. And that man killed those who needed killing. More

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Words: 55,830
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465931221
About John Brinling

Author Bio: John Brinling

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. on June 8, 1936. I grew up in Pittsburgh and didn’t leave home until I was 21 and heading off to graduate school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I’ve attended multiple universities: Duquesne, U. of Illinois, U. of Pittsburgh, Columbia. And I have a B.S. in Pharmacy and an M.S. in Pharmacology. I was married in 1975 and have one daughter.

I have been writing all of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. “Black Dawn.” It dealt with segregation and the KKK. Whatever happened to it I don’t know.
Since then, earning a living has preempted long periods of my life when I wrote very little. My wife and I are both in data processing (IT nowadays) and we usually work long hours when we are on a contract, which meant I spent little time writing fiction when gainfully employed. The birth of my daughter offered me another excuse for not writing, but that’s what it was: an excuse. Writing is hard. But it’s in my DNA and I keep returning to it, despite some part of me that prefers the lazy life. However, not writing is unthinkable, and I am constantly exploring ideas even when I’m not committing them to paper.
I lived and worked in Europe for seven years. I met my wife In Italy where we both worked for the same company, and were married in 1975. The contract we were working on ended that year and we took two years off to live in England, in a 300 year old farmhouse in Wiltshire. It was in that farmhouse that I wrote “The Ghost Of A Flea,” as well as another book titled “Quarantine,” which is a science fiction thriller.
“The Ghost” has a strong autobiographical component. I was a programmer/analyst. The office ambience in the novel is similar to life in my New York office, although the intrigues were of an entirely different nature. I had a good friend who lived in Sparta. I lived for a time near the George Washington Bridge. The building manager was an Irishman, who became a good friend, and an integral character in the book.
“Quarantine” is set in East Africa, where my wife and I vacationed, and I drew liberally on what we read, saw, and experienced.
I had an agent back then who marketed both books, and came very close to selling them to both Doubleday and St. Martins. Unfortunately he died before completing the sale and I put the books on a shelf and forgot about them for 35 years. Only this year did I resurrect them and publish them on Amazon’s Kindle and Smashwords.
In 1977, my wife and I returned to the states and founded our IT consulting firm, Brinling Associates. For the next fifteen years we worked hard building our business. I wrote one novel during that time, a book titled “Alone,” which dealt with a man in an irreversible coma who is aware of what is happening around him, but is unable to communicate with the real world. I thought the book was lost, but have just recently found a hardcopy of the book and have begun reworking it..
In 1990, during a down period in our business activities, I wrote several other novels which I am attempting to bring out of retirement. These novels were also put on the shelf when circumstances re-ignited our business opportunities. One book – “The Watcher,” an occult horror thriller – is already self-published. The other is a much larger work, a rural mystery series tentatively titled “The Valley Mysteries” set in Vermont, that I’m still working on.
As you can see, writing books is one thing, marketing quite another. I am perhaps the world’s worst marketer, which helps explain why my writings have spent most of their lives on a shelf in my home in Vermont staring out at me asking “Why am I here?”
For the past few years I have been writing screenplays, which are more bite-sized writing efforts. I have done fairly well in some contests, but am still waiting to be discovered. The small royalty checks I earned from Amazon this year are the only money I’ve ever earned from my fiction writing.
My writing is pure escapism. When I sit down to write, I embark on an adventure. I let things happen and I let the characters be who they are. Since I strongly avoid outlines, I am as surprised by events as I hope the reader is. Pulling together loose ends is a subject for revision, which I do endlessly. This undoubtedly makes for more work and takes me longer to “finish” something, but it seems to be the best, the only, way for me. It is the candy bar just out of reach that keeps me at the keyboard.
My background illustrates my chaotic approach to life. I have been at different stages a pharmacist, a pharmacologist, a tech writer, a programmer/analyst, a business consultant, a business owner, a teacher, a novelist and a screenwriter. At one time I thought it perfectly acceptable, if not desirable, to change jobs/professions every year or so. I didn’t worry about the future, assuming I would always find a way to muddle through.
I’m still muddling through.

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Review by: Tanya Alexander on Jan. 26, 2012 :
This was a great book i really enjoyed reading it!
(reviewed 90 days after purchase)

Review by: Amy Ecker on Nov. 19, 2011 : (no rating)
I finished reading this book the other day and although I did have one issue with it I think it was overall a great read! My problem with the story is that it didn't give us any insight into the characters. There were only three main characters (Big John, Cassie, Alisa) that I felt like I knew while reading. This lead to me not being able to understand completely what was going on throughout some of the story. Other than that this was a really good, quick read. The suspense never ended as something was always happening to someone. There were quite a few parts where I just could not put the book down because I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. All in all, this is a great book!
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)

Review by: Clara Garletts on Nov. 19, 2011 :
Hi everyone!
Finished reading the book and I must say at first, I just couldn't get into it. The book does jump around and you must stay focused! After, learning of "Big John" may have gotten aids, that began the turning point for me. I needed to know how it turned out. As for the typos, please reread the story!! The spell-checker will say it's ok because they are actual words. All in all, the book is good. Thanks John for sharing it with us!!
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Rita Gnap on Nov. 18, 2011 : (no rating)
Overall the book was a good read. It jumps a bit excessively at the beginning and doesn't stay in one place long enough to develop a lot of suspense. I don't like the screen play format, Brinling could have added a few descriptive sentences to accomplish the same result as the stage directions. If he could write the beginning, like he did the end it would be wonderful. I also felt the description of characters lacking to aid in solving the mystery. The only characters described well were the two sexy females, Alicia and Cassie--how sexist!!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: anita beach on Nov. 18, 2011 : (no rating)
i enjoyed this book. first screenplay book i have read. it was a good book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Kerry Bowell on Nov. 18, 2011 :
I did enjoy reading the book. Like others, I had a bit of difficulty getting into the screenplay style of writing, but as I went along it became easier. I am not sure if the story seemed rough at the beginning because if this or if the writing truly did smooth out as the story continued. I was bothered by some typos and hope they will be edited in the future. I do not care for crass vulgarity and there was that, but all in all it was a good read.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Carrie Brooks on Nov. 17, 2011 :
This was my first screenplay adaptation and it wasn't what I expected. I guess I was expecting more of a play format so I was relieved to be wrong.
I actually enjoyed the lack of commentary; we only saw what the characters saw, not hear what they were thinking. My only complaint was the under-use of pronouns.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Pinky on Nov. 14, 2011 :
I received this as a free ebook to review. The plot was appealing to me, so I believe I would have bought it to read it also. Loved all the twists and turns.
The concept of revenge is interesting to me, even thought I don't think it gets us anywhere. I guess that's why I liked reading about it so much. Books are supposed to take us to a place we won't or can't go. This one does exactly that! Recommend it to all, it's a good use of your time!
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)

Review by: angellady on Nov. 07, 2011 :
I enjoyed this book, after I got used to the writing style. This is a screenplay, so it reads a bit different than a novel.

I liked the main character "Big John", he hard yet there is a tender side to him.

I was however a bit bothered by the amount of typos in the book. I find them very distracting.

Overall the story is a good one, and worth reading!
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)

Review by: mary cochran on Nov. 06, 2011 :
I wanted to enjoy this book, but found the huge cast of characters and extremely fast pace overwhelming and confusing. I re-read chapter after chapter, trying to understand what was going on and who were the 'good guys' and 'bad guys', but finished the book with several "why?"s still unanswered.

The main character is not a like-able person, and although I'm sure the author has crafted a detailed background and history for "Big John" he doesn't develop it enough to involve me, and the few very short glimpses we get of his life barely help me understand the man's emotions and actions.. The final chapters really left me wondering what was going on - why were people who had nothing to do with any other part of the story suddenly at the heart of things? And what was the point of the 'masquerade' at the center of this plot?

Furthermore, while I admit I'm a nit-picker, the number of typos in the book was distracting. All would have passed a spell-checker, but the substitution of "piece" for "peace" and - my pet peeve - the misuse of "there", "their" and "they're" really got to me. The author's overuse of "..." to end every second or third sentence also got extremely annoying very quickly.

I think the author has it in him to create some good, believable characters and the imagination to develop intriguing stories with nice plot twists, and will check out some of his works in a few more years. Hopefully by then his writing style will have matured into one I will enjoy reading.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)

Review by: carol nicholson on Nov. 02, 2011 : (no rating)
Vagarity...for a screenplay it was written well. Lots of twists and turns. Filled with action...
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)

Review by: Deb Berntsen on Oct. 30, 2011 :
A good read! When I initially began reading I struggled a bit with the style of reading...but then remembered..."screenplay". I soon found myself reading and reading and reading. Getting caught up in the twists of the novel as the hero, struggling with his own demons, battles the faces of evil. This book is a fast read, filled with action(would make a great movie), a mystery that keeps unfolding (and I love a good mystery). So, for those of you who like a good mystery, lots of action, and a little "romance" this is the book for you.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)

Review by: dag64 on Oct. 23, 2011 :
A very good book, loved the twists and turns!

I really, really enjoyed "Death In The Arena". When we first meet the main character Big John Studebaker, he is holding a partially burnt Raggedy-Ann doll that is missing it's head and arm, and he is standing in front of the graves of his wife and infant daughter who had been killed 3 years prior. Big John has been after a drug lord known as the Silver Fox for a number of years, even prior to the death of his family, however after the death of his family his hunt for the Silver Fox, became a full blown obsession, but with good reason. He had lost a lot in his life due to the Silver Fox, not just personally but also professionally. The Silver Fox always wore a hood and seemed to always be able to stay a step ahead of Big John. I really enjoyed trying to figure out the true identity of the Fox, when it was finally revealed who he was, it totally caught me by surprise! I really enjoyed all the neat twists and turns.
Big John's name really fits him, he is a big grizzly bear of a man but for all of his rough, tough exterior he also had a soft side to him, he also at times acted like a jerk but his good qualities quickly redeemed him, yes he had some faults but his good qualities tended to outweigh his bad qualities, he also has a sense of humor that tends to come out in some pretty good one-liners that had me chuckling out loud at times and also in his use of his middle finger. lol "Death In The Arena" is a real page turner that just seemed to get better with each turn of the page, it was full of action, twist and turns and had some good fight scenes, my favorite fight scene takes place in a warehouse towards the end of the book, it would be great in a movie! There is a lot packed into this book and at first I was a little overwhelmed as I was trying to keep the various characters straight but I was able to get them sorted out fairly quickly by just re-reading a few pages. My problem was that I was staying up way to late reading because I couldn't put this book down, then I'd fall asleep in the middle of reading and not remember what I'd read! lol
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)

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