Posts Tagged ‘novel’

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


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”.


Great!, March 28, 2012


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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!

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People ask me all the time how I find the time to write. I often quote my buddy Marcus Sakey who when asked this question uttered the simple “Ass on seat, fingers on keyboard.”

Nothing sexy about the day in and day out of banging out a semi-coherent 80,000 story.

To help you understand I’m linking you to an article on one of my favorite websites The Art of Manliness.

The article is on drudgery and you can find it here.

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To order a Duffy book, click on one of the covers to the left.

When you finish a piece of work, leave it alone for awhile.

Whether it’s an article, short fiction or a novel you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll benefit from giving it a rest.

It will feel lazy and you’ll be dying to be finally done with it. Resist that feeling and let the damn thing sit and ferment.

My dog Riley gets it

A sign that it’s time to look at it again is when you have to really think to remember what it is about. Then when you read it, it will feel like someone else’s work.

That’s when your best editing will occur.

On deadline you might not have the luxury of weeks but you can let it sit for a few days, overnight or even to til the end of the day.

This is mind work and the mind has its limits. Give your concentration a rest, distract and it let your imagination go somewhere else.

It may be the single best piece of advice I was ever given on writing.

I’m now rereading a novel I wrote.

It’s not part of the Duffy series (though some familiar faces make appearances.) It is very hard to step back and be objective.

I sent it to three very good friends who are voracious mystery readers for feedback. They all liked it and all had suggestions. They didn’t agree with each other’s suggestions much but all the feedback was excellent.

My original plan was then to send it to some of my writer friends.

Coincidently, I’m reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Blink”. It’s fascinating study about how good decisions are made. He points out that our instincts, usually the sum of all our unconscious knowledge, should be listened to and followed. He also makes the point that too much information clouds good decision-making and interferes.

I’ve decided I’m not sending my manuscript around any more. I’m going to edit it and have a copy editor go through it for grammar and punctuation.

I’m a little nervous about it. But something tells me that it’s not a good idea to write by committee. It’s good to get feedback… but not too much.

I don’t think it is just that I want to be done. I think it is is something about instinct.

It’s my writing. I’m the storyteller.

I’m going with my gut.

Does anyone else get this?

It’s Monday morning and the work week is two hours a way and you get a sickish feeling in your gut.

I know what lies ahead this week and it’s nothing special. There’s certainly nothing to be scared of. Yet, I got this sense of impending doom. it will fade by 9:30 or so when i’m in the office.

What is it about?

I like my job. I like the people there. Tomorrow morning i won’t have this feeling.

It makes me wonder how much energy of mine is sucked up this anxiety. I wonder if it makes me avoid things or if I underperform because of it.

Is it this tension that tightens my shoulders and gives me a headache?

No Monday hee bee gee bees for Willie

If I let it go, really let it go i would feel far less uncomfortable both psychologically and physically.

Why don’t I?

Is there a secondary payoff of feeling crummy?

Is it the reinforcement of feeling like a victim? Is it because when it ceases I feel so good so i deliberately bring it on? Is it because worry makes me focus on what needs to get done?

Is it just human nature to want immediate gratification and not have to put ourselves in any form of discomfort–and going to work is less gratifying than sitting on the couch eating Girl Scout Samoas?

As I type this the three hounds are snoring. They’ve been fed. they got no walk because of the rain. Wilbur is starting to talk because I think he wants to go outside.

None of them seem worried.

Are bassets a more evolved life form?

I’m not sure that the ability for rational thought is always a good thing.

Wilbur changed his mind, stopped talking and just went and lied down.

I wish I could.

Are racism and homophobia psychological disorders?

Did you hear about the two lesbian kids who wanted to go to the prom in Mississippi? The one girl wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring her long-time girlfriend.

The school board canceled the prom.

This couple has the right to be bored and let down by their high school prom just like heterosexual couples!

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet about the right of the school board to make rules about uniforms and who can bring who. Many argue that it’s against the rules for a girl to wear a tuxedo to a prom.

At my prom in 1979 I remember one of the girls wore a tuxedo and she looked great.

What’s really the fear? Exposing other kids to lesbians? Allowing lesbians to go to the prom will make being lesbianism okay?

Many others say God intended for men to mate with women. Yet, there’s plenty of animals that do sexual things with each other and plenty of things people do all the time that go against what some people say are God’s wishes and people don’t get worked up over those things as passionately.

Here’s my theory. People tend to distrust and even hate something that’s different from them. Probably when we were cavemen that helped to keep us alive. We tend to flock towards things we’re familiar with and things that we connect with.

So if you’re white and you grew up in a neighborhood with no African-Americans or Latinos you might be afraid of them or believe stereotypes that you’ve been exposed to.

How do you get over it?

Well, first, you have to want to.

If you find power or solace in hating or distrusting others you probably will want to stay where you are in your beliefs.

If you want to not be racist or homophobic or ethnist (I think that’s the word), here’s my cure: Get to know people in that group.

You’ll find universally that people aren’t one thing.

You’ll find that humans share most emotions, fears and anxieties.

You’ll find people of these groups who you’ll like and ones that you’ll dislike.

Not liking a lesbian, gay person or a person of a different race isn’t being homophobic or racist. There are plenty of jerks in those groups like there are in your group.

Just don’t dislike them because of their group.

When you get a friend in a group different than yours, you find that you share the human experience more than you share anything else.

By the way, the state court said that Constance McMillan is entitled to attend her prom in a tuxedo with her girlfriend. Yeah Mississippi!

The school board has still canceled the prom.

Resist the urge to explain.

The fun of reading is letting your mind conjure up pictures and stories.


Don’t deprive readers of that. Say what you have to say with the least amount of words.

Pretend words are money and be economical.

If you write dialogue that goes:

“You pig! I hate your guts and I’m going to stab you in the eye with a screwdriver!”

Do your really need to say:

John was angry and he didn’t mind showing it. His voice echoed down the hallowed halls and reverberated back at him. Mary was surprised and frightened. John’s voice was not only loud but it was also filled with more stress than the waistband on Oprah’s jeans.

No, you don’t.

Trust the reader. They’ll get it. If they don’t you’re using weak words.

Use stronger ones and stop boring us.

There’s a famous story about a guy named Phineas Gage who was a railroad worker in the 1800’s.

One day at work he had a metal rod go through his eye and into his brain.

And you thought Monday’s were tough.

Here’s the interesting part.

Don't let a spike through the eye ruin your outlook on life!

Up until the day the spike went through his head, ‘Ol Phin was a pretty cool, even tempered guy. Stuff didn’t bother him and he liked people.

After the accident he turned into a disagreeable asshole.

Maybe it was he was really pissed off about the whole spike-through-the-eye-into-the-brain thing.

Brain researches think it was something else.

There’s a part of the brain in the frontal lobe called the ventromedial area. It seems when that area gets messed with people lose their morals. They can think rationally but they are almost hyper-rational. They don’t care about consequences to others. They lose their healthy sense of fear and they take absurd risks for immediate gratification dismissing future consequences.

This has nothing to do with how they were raised, whether they were breast fed from falsies, whether they got enough hugs from Daddy–it’s totally physical.

Could that explain the diagnosis of assholitis? Could it explain addiction? Could it explain evil?

Damn, it’s getting to the point when you can’t blame anyone for anything any more.