Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You Can’t Walk Away From the War, June 1, 2012

By

Patricia H. Parker “Bookwoman”

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)

T. J. Dunn has seen much more of life than most women her age. Right out of college, she went on active duty as an Army Lieutenant in Iraq. When we first meet her, she is traveling in a UAH along a street in an Iraqi town. Her unit is attacked, they find themselves surrounded, and her Platoon Sergeant is shot in the head right next to her. She realizes that the unit’s 50 calibre gun is running low on ammunition, and the only supplies are strapped to the outside of the UAH. As she crawls out on the outside of the vehicle, she is shot in the arm and falls off onto the road, out in the open, and she knows she is going to die. As she watches her vehicle pull away from her, leaving her all alone, it explodes.

The reader next finds T. J., still in a drugged fog, in the hospital, three days later. The chaplain and one of her and her fiancé’s best friends, David Strickland, come to her, and she knows they bring news that her whole unit was killed in the explosion of the UAH. However, they also bring the news that her fiancé, Captain David Halle, has committed suicide. T.J and David were not stationed together, but he was also on active duty in Iraq. She is confused and distraught. Captain Halle was not the type to commit suicide. Also, he is the second man close to her who has taken this action. Her father, also an Army Officer, had committed suicide, without warning, a few years earlier.

Having been released from active duty, we find T.J. a year later, having run away from everything and everyone from her past, working as a stripper in a bar in Albany, New York and spending her spare time as a volunteer on a Suicide Hotline for a local charity.. She has no friends and keeps to herself. A few of the dancers and a couple of the other volunteers have become acquaintances, but she doesn’t let them get close, and she never speaks about her past. However, her past haunts her, and she is in counseling to help with the pain, but, to her, this is a new day, and she doesn’t want to even consider the old ones. Then, one night, she looks up during her performance, and thinks she sees David Strickland in the crowd. She looks for him later, but he has disappeared. From that point on, the story gets deeper and murkier. She finally realizes that, for some unknown reason, someone is trying to kill her, and it has something to do with Iraq, David’s suicide and secrets she may or may not know.

“Getting Dunn” is an intriguing book with a thrilling story. The reader is led from one point to another until the truth is laid out and the secrets are revealed. It is a well constructed tale with T. J. not knowing which are the good guys and which the bad until the very end. Mr. Schreck has written some other books which have won top awards in their genre. I recommend this book highly as it never lets up, and there are no down spots as this young woman fights her way back to some semblance of normalcy in a life which hadn’t known much up until that time.

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Good story and really appropriate for the time and generation. The mental health issues are brought out with compassion and frustration. T.J. is a perfect example of someone using their physical body to cover the emotional and mental damage done to them through no fault of their own.

Unfortunately, the bad guys are probably our neighbors and friends because they wear friendly faces. I will definately go looking for this authors other books.

Tom Schreck Brings It! Not a disappointment as usual, May 17, 2012
This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Although tough, TJ Dunn knew the risk when she entered the army. Her team is ambushed in Iraq and when she’s the only survivor left, albiet physically and mentally tramatized she also finds out her fiance has taken his life.

When she comes back home, she drifts through life depressed and then she gets this anonymous call who says maybe her guy didn’t kill himself. Maybe the government or somebody else is making it look like suicide to cover up some drug conspiracy.

Life jumps back into her and she sets out to find the killer.

This was the second book by Schreck and I was burning the midnight reading this suspense! Good job … again!!

Ex-military topless pole dancer? Why not?, June 7, 2012
 

Unaccustomed as I am to heroines who relieve stress by kick-boxing, and then head for an establishment called “Taco” to entice men by topless pole dancing, I must admit that I was able to relate eventually. What makes this unusually interesting is that Dunn is experiencing a devastating grief for both her father and her love, who were both in the service, and who both committed suicide. The act was not something she would have thought either of them capable of – so something else was going on. She makes it her business to find out – all the while, in grief counseling with a psychiatrist who plumbs her depths with great professional precision. This process is aided by an author, who, himself, is a psychologist – so it’s all very real.

I must admit, the pages were turning and I did get caught up in the intrigue. This novel wasn’t the best of its kind – but it was a departure from the usual – and I celebrate a plot that is creative. If you like tough heroines (I wouldn’t want to meet this one in a dark alley), you might consider this novel a “diamond in the rough”.

Reviews of THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT

Great!, March 28, 2012

By

Richard A. Mitchell “Rick Mitchell” (candia, new hampshire United States) – See all my reviews

Other reviewers have compared Mr. Schreck to Coben and Parker. They are absolutely right. He is definitely in that league. I was shocked this is his third book. I immediately went and bought his first. This book has all the humor, intelligence and human warmth of their best stuff.

This book has a few intrigues going on at once. Like the best of Parker and Coben, Schreck’s main character, the professional sparring partner and social worker, Duffy Dombrowski, is well-developed and with great depth. This enables the plot to include some real human interest elements to go with the humor and the mysteries.

Although classified as a mystery, this is not a standard whodunit. Duffy is going through life in his usual take-it-as-it-comes manner. There is a parallel under story of murders of Mexicans in Las Vegas, but this does not impact him for quite some time. For most of the book, Duffy is dealing with the vagaries of being employed by the Russian mob.

There is a lot of good humor here to go with the good story lines. Duffy’s “posse” of four, who normally don’t leave their usual bar stools is priceless. Their conversations are laugh out loud funny while being perfectly believable despite their absurdity. Duffy’s bassett hound, Al, adds to the book in unforeseen ways.

I have only one caution. In the first 60 or so pages, there was a lot of scatological humor that would put a 14 year old boy on his knees with guffaws, but not so much for adults. I was pleased and relieved that after that start, the humor became much richer.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for a good fun read.

“Just Knockdown Refreshing”, April 17, 2012

By

John Mercier

I gave this story five stars because it was so refreshing in the truest sense of the word. The main character, Duffy Dombrowski, is the most likeable boxer that you could ever meet; being a social worker might have something to do with him being a people person. He helps people all throughout the story and being a professional heavyweight boxer and black belt in martial arts he is really able to help in some rough situations.

Duffy works as a social worker in upstate New York, but because he is a decent “South-Paw” boxer he is offered a chance to go to Vegas to spar with a Russian boxing heavyweight to get him ready for a championship bout for the best money that he has ever made. Of course he can’t turn it down; he just has to get out of going to a social work training camp in the Catskills. With Duffy where there is a will, there is a way. Nothing is ever simple for Duffy and his big heart and since he gets a whole house to live in at a “Brothel” he invites four of his friends to come on out. Oh yeah he couldn’t leave his basset hound, Al behind either. It’s so funny how he gets Al there. While in Vegas, Duffy helps out prostitutes, illegal, and legal Mexicans, with the help of Al, of course.

Duffy’s character reminds me of Nelson Demille’s John Corey, who always keeps me laughing. Tom Schreck is a very good story teller and his words go smoothly onto the paper and back to this reader’s mine to create a very refreshing story. I am going to read the two previous Duffy Dombrowski novels, since this one was so enjoyable. Like the author, Tom Schreck, I live in the Albany, NY area.

A Real Page Turner, May 30, 2012

By

Chris Warren

This is the first Tom Schreck book that I have read. I found ‘The Vegas Knockout’ to be a highly readable, funny and action-packed read with a very human element to it. The characters in general were very interesting, and Duffy Dombrowski, the main antagonist, was a flawed but likeable man’s man that would not be far out of place in a Hemmingway novel. I recommmend this light, highly entertaining book as the perfect laying on the beach with an adult beverage type read.

Loved It – Want More!, April 3, 2012

By

Brenda Frank “Eclectic Reader”

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

This is my first Tom Schreck/Duffy book, and I loved it. J.A. Konrath who writes the Jack Daniels series is one of my favorite authors. Konrath’s stories are irreverent, funny (sometimes on a juvenile level) and the good guys win. Tom Schreck is a likely winner for me since he has collaborated with Konrath to write: “Planter’s Punch,” encompassing both the boxing and the mixed drink themes.

Consider Al, a “rescue” basset hound given anthropomorphic qualitites. like dogs and stories including dogs as characters. Al is a hoot and gave me many laugh out loud moments. Duffy, the lead character, is a boxer, sort of. He’s really hired as a sparring partner for really good boxers. Basically, he’s paid to be a piece of meat to pummel. More important, Duffy is a really good guy prone to help the needy.

Adventures ensue in Los Vegas, in a brothel, in the gym, in the ring, and in the casinos. There are subplots, tearful and touching moments, lots of jabs, hooks and low blows. In the end, of course, the good guys win and happiness prevails. It works for me.

Vegas Knock Out, June 26, 2012

By

Rebecca Townsend (Indianapolis, IN United States) – This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

Tom Schreck landed the perfect punch with Vegas Knock Out. His cast of babes, boxers and bassets grabbed quick attention, which was held by a rampaging murderer, a damsel in distress and a loud, ugly Russian in need of a good smack down. Schreck admitted to encountering a seeming impasse during his writing process. Glad he got over it. Maybe Elvis is watching over him with a little help from Boggsy.The Vegas Knockout

Exceeds Expectations…Once Again, June 21, 2012

By

Abby Mead “Abby” (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Once again, another fantastic book from Tom Schreck.

His narrative and writing style makes it seem that you’re right there in his head while he’s writing it. It’s as if while you’re reading it, you can imagine how a film version would be.

It’s great to see Al, Duffy & the gang back, because, honestly, I was going through withdrawal. If you haven’t bought this book yet, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. I think that this is the best one yet.

The Vegas Knockout

Short chapters full of suspense!, June 9, 2012

By

Kat “kttykat16” (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

This is a great book and and easy read. With an eclectic cast of characters and 80 short chapters full of suspense, author Tom Schreck shows you the life of Duffy Dombrowski and Al, the basset hound and side-kick. Duffy is a social worker and professional boxing sparing partner who encounters the Russian mob, prostitution rings, illegal immigration and of course murder. If you love Vegas, boxing, or Basset hounds you’ll love this book even more. Chapter 7, and 13 and 14 where so funny I had to share those chapters with my wife and she was just as amused as I was. This is my first of the Duffy Dombrowski series and I jumped in not even realizing that there were three previous books. Tom knows his audience and how to appeal to the masses, with his master’s degree in psychology he keeps you reading, in fact after the first few chapters it was difficult to put the book down until I was finished.

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This One’s Got A Strong Heart And A Nerve Of Steel, May 15, 2012

By

W. Dolan (USA)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m a fight fan, a rockabilly fan and rescue dog fan (anything with a white tipped tail and an annoying howl will do) so it was inevitable I’d find Tom Schreck’s ‘Duffy’ series.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Duffy books and looked forward to reading ‘The Vegas Knockout’ since I heard about it.

The new setting opened up avenues that couldn’t be traveled back East. I liked the change of scenery and Las Vegas was a natural place for a fighter to end up.

Duff and Al have their usual dynamic that I’ve found hilarious and spot-on. Some of Al’s this-must-be-comic-relief-made-up-for-a-work-of-fiction antics are anything but fantastic. Live with a basset and you’ll laugh as you mentally commiserate with Duff (and know (some of) this stuff ain’t made up).

Happily, “The Fearsome Foursome” make their way to Glitter Gulch to hang out with Duffy. They are regulars at the bar back home and their conversations kill me every time. They’re the scene-stealers in all the Duffy books, IMO.

‘TVKO’ isn’t all fun, fluff an’ fightin’, though. Racism and nationalistic xenophobia figure into the story as well and the morality themes aren’t as subtle as in earlier editions of the Duffy Dombrowski series.

Not to worry, there’re hookers, mobsters, fights and breathless running through the streets of Sin City for you action hounds, too. It *is* a whodunit, after all.

I won’t go into the nuts & bolts of the story- Amazon’s ‘Book Description’ gives you that.

I can’t not mention the old stage hand at the Imperial, though. My favorite part of the story, and the parts I found most touching, involved him. Duffy (or is it Al?) is the hero we love and root for but the old timer gives TVKO huge added touches of heart and humanity.

-BD

Every thing you could want in a book., June 11, 2012

By

Siobhan Bourbeau (Billerica, MA USA) –

Another great book by Tom Schreck. I’ve been waiting anxiously for another Dombrowski book and this one did not disappoint. The story takes Duffy to Vegas for the opportunity of a life time and of course his best 4 legged friend, Al and the 4some have to come along as well. As a basset hound owner I found myself laughing out loud at Duffy and Al’s journey through the airport. The book delivered it usual great story line, filled with humor and suspense. Tom has a way of really bringing his characters to life and making you care about what happens to them. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down, I need to know how it ended.

Life imitates art imitates life

By

M. Hegeman (New York State)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m also a social worker, drug counselor, Elvis lover, rescued basset hound parent. I don’t punch or get punched as a side job, but other than that have found my Doppelganger in Duffy Dombrowski. The scenes at his job, as a hapless therapist trying to help people who are too messed up to see how messed up they are, are bittersweet funny and true. Duffy has wit, good sense, and a heart for helping others. Plus he’ll kick your ass if he has to.

Schreck has created an original, endearing character. Duffy doesn’t want trouble; he’d just like to do his job, hang with his friends, and tend to his dog. But if you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place. Duffy is a reluctant hero; often as not he’s literally pulled into his adventures by his rambunctious basset hound, Al. But once he’s in, Duffy is in all the way, and the reader cheers him on.

Enjoy your wild ride with Duffy and Al. I defy you to read the scene at the airport check-in without laughing out loud!

Okay, so after watching Chavez vs. Camacho we know the coming forward brawler will beat the defensive wizard who knows how to evade, right?

Not so fast.

Let’s take a look at how Pernell Whitaker fought Julio Cesar Chavez. Granted, Whitaker is not Camacho. They were both fast, left-handed and crafty. Neither was known as a huge hitter and both were exceedingly tough to trap.

So why was Whitaker effective against Chavez and Camacho wasn’t.

I say it is because Sweet Pea stood his ground and evaded without moving his feet. He committed to the neutral zone and made Chavez pay when he came in. Perhaps because he planted his feet more there was more power to his shots.

Maybe Whitaker could take a harder shot. Maybe his ability to stay in close kept him from feeling the full brunt of Chavez power because his arms didn’t get extended.

Or maybe in just a few years Chavez’s power diminished.

Watch these rounds and compare and contrast Whitaker and Camacho. What does it tell us about scoring?

I believe it tells us:

1. If you evade without losing ground you can score.

2. Planting your feet will make a difference in power

3. Moving forward does not guarantee success

4. A brawler will not definitely beat a boxer nor vice versa.

Watch round 2 and round 8 and think about who wins these rounds and why:

Round 8

Round 2

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Now let’s take a look at Camacho in another bout with a fighter of a similar style. Julio Cesar Chavez was a great superstar champion who stalked his opponents. He did what Greg Haugen set out to do but he did it with dominant force.

Take a look at this first round.

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Camacho is employing the same strategy that he did with Haugen but much less effectively. Why? Quite simply–because Chavez’s punches hurt too much!

Camacho does not want to commit to his jab so it flicks without his body weight and balance behind it. He is already thinking of avoiding Chavez’s punishment when he throws his jab.

Camacho’s movement is artful but it is not setting him to do any counter damage as he becomes defensive. His feet aren’t planted and he’s avoiding the neutral zone like the plague.

Chavez is planting his feet, he is moving in through the neutral zone and he is committing to his punches–even when Camacho lands. Chavez is willing and fearless of Camacho’s shots.

Chavez wins almost every round on every card but there is a half a round where we can glimpse at what would’ve worked for Camacho if he had the strength to sustain it and the ability to do some punishing damage on Chavez.

Take a look at Round Four, particularly at the second half.

I may be reaching here but we can see what might have worked for the Macho Man. Late in the round Camacho throws two jabs with his feet planted and circles out but only after he has put some of his body into these jabs. Then he stands in front of Chavez and lands a solid uppercut. he is only able to do this because of how he has positioned himself. later he lands a looping left again when he hasn’t skitted out of the neutral zone.

At the close of the round Camacho lands a combination on the incoming Chavez who may have gotten a bit careless believing Camacho couldn’t hurt him.

It may not have been enough to win the round for Hector but we can a little of what he would have had to do to be successful.

Why could he do it against Haugen and not Chavez–Chavez’s power. Or more simply put–Chavez’s shots hurt too much to stand in and plant.

Camacho knew the right strategy. His body made him forsake it.

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Let’s take a look at two rounds of two of my favorite fighters with vastly different styles and see what their styles have to say about how we might score this fight.

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What are the fighters trying to do?

Camacho wants to stay on the outside, score points with the jab to set up his left and wait for Haugen so he can catch him with counters.

Haugen wants to get inside Camacho’s jab, punish him to the body, pin him on the ropes and rough him up.

Study what happens in the neutral zone and who risks entering it. Watch footwork and when Camacho moves to keep himself in position to score and when he merely moves to get out of the way.

Be careful because it isn’t always what it appears. Haugen steps in but off to the side at times and throws a hook to the body several times that Camacho barely notices. Haugen doesn’t come straight in when he does this and he is not committing himself to harm’s way, hence he barely scores because the punch does so little.

In round one Haugen lands several straight right hands becomes he comes in aggressively across the neutral zone risking a counter and drives the punch hard to Camacho’s face. Camacho doesn’t risk the neutral zone and his jab is being used mostly as a range finder. He barely sets his legs lonf enough to make an effective counter with power.

Though this round has very little damage, Haugen has taken more risks, committed to his punches, planted his feet and through with some conviction with his right through Camacho’s guard.

I believe that was enough to give him the round.

In the second round changes take place. Camacho continues to move but more to stay in countering position. He commits to the neutral zone and lands this time putting himself in harm’s way and when he does his feet are planted and his puncheds have his body weight behind him. I believe this takes a toll on Haugen and he becomes less eager to go through the neutral zone and begins to hesitate just a bit which in turn serves Camacho’s strategy. the slight hesitation and lack of commitment freezes Haugen enough to make him easier to hit for Camacho.

Round Two which looked very similar to round one has a different outcome because Camacho stays in range, plants his feet and commits through the neutral zone. Haugen’s goal to rough the Macho Man up is thwarted…in this round. This fight is a classic for scoring because the dance goes on for twelve rounds.

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We have our criteria for scoring:

1 Clean Punching

2. Effective Aggressiveness

3. Defense

4. Ring Generalship

And last time we went over the fundamentals and to some degree the body mechanics of the four punches. How hard can this judging thing be? I mean, all you have to do is see who lands more and with more damage, write it down and hand your scorecard to the referee at the end of the round, right?

If you’re lucky and the two boxers are nice enough to cooperate and give you an easy round. The problem is fighters make things hard.

Consider these questions:

How many jabs equal a cross?

What about body shots that do little damage–how are they scored?

What About aggression that does almost nothing?

What about light jabs that land?

What about sloppy punches that land?

Ugh…there are no absolutes that answer these questions. Now, you can be smug and say “I know it when I see it.” or “You can just tell.” or “That’s what judges get paid the big bucks for.”

There are other stumbling blocks like evaluating power vs. quantity, lack of activity, an abundance of activity and a wide disparity in fighting styles.

When rounds are close, sublime and complex, judges need to be able to have a clear rationale for their judgment. Not everyone will agree but a judge should have a very clear rationale for why his or her score is rendered.

I believe the way to do this is to breakdown the actions of the fighters to their most fundamental components and make a very close examination of their body mechanics. What they do, how they do it and the effect it has should determine what the score should be.

We can do this by making a close assessment of the fighters’ styles and what they are attempting to accomplish and how they are succeeding at that.

Watch round 4 of Ayala v. Tapia. It is very close–how would you call it and what criteria would you site?

This program is going to examine a group of pro boxers who competed throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s.  Hector Camacho Sr., Greg Haugen, Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad were all great fighters and many of them faced each other. They all had different styles, some more similar than others. We can look at what fighters had success and failures in this group and through that process examine the bio-mechanics that made them successful. it will be an excellent means to illustrate the minutia that goes into winning a close  round.

A quick sketch of the fighters:

Hector Camacho- Speed, Defense, Suspect Power

Julio  Cesar Chavez– Will Take 3 to Land 1, Power

Greg Haugen- Busy, Unsophisticated, Tough, Persistant

Pernell Whitaker—Speed, Defense, Suspect Power

Meldrick Taylor- Speed, Power, Too Much Heart For His Own Good?

Oscar De La Hoya- Straight ahead with power and speed

Felix Trinidad–Similar to DLH but maybe with less versatility?

What variables on the scoring criteria and the idea of damage come into play when these fighters are matched?

Stay tuned.

Further Reading

Check out this interesting article analyzing Mike Tyson’s speed and style.

http://coxscorner.tripod.com/tyson.html

Click here to read the rest of this series.

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Wondering where I’ve been?

No?

Well, you could pretend.

I’ve gassed up the virtual Cadillac and have been touring the country visiting friends blogs. here’s a road map in case you missed any.

Gar Haywood’s crazy interview on Murderati

Elizabeth White’s great book review site where I blog on what’s wrong with most fight scenes

Joe Konrath’s Newbie’s Guide to Publishing where I wrote about risk and the mystery writer

Amy Alessio’s Reading and cooking blog where you get to read about my vegeatarian Buffalo chicken wing recipe

Ebook and Kindle Reader Blog where I wrote about reviving the tired boxing metaphor

Crimespree Blog on how to write a novel in an hour a day

The ABC Basset Rescue Blog where I wrote about the importance of basset celebrations

Dana Cameron was nice enough to host me on the Femmes Fatale blog. i wrote about what people don’t know about boxing

LJ Sellers hosted me on the Crime Fiction Collective on punching up your fight scenes

Deb Baker had me at Cozy Chicks where I wrote about dogs in mysteries

Sueann Jaffarian was nice enough to host my favorite TV personality thoughts on Steve McGarrett at Criminal Minds

If you have a blog and would like me to come visit just let me know!