10-13-2008 01:03 PM - edited 10-13-2008 01:03 PM
Tom Schreck is an author I discovered last year while browsing a...well let's just call it a bookstore that will remain nameless.
So I read the book, enjoyed it immensely, and sent the author an e-mail about my enjoyment. Some weeks later I get a set of beer koozies in the mail. (Read the books and you'll understand why.)
A few weeks ago, Tom sends me another e-mail asking to see if I could write a book review of his most recent novel and submit with the reader reviews at Amazon. In a stunning coincidence, I was currently reading that book at the moment.
Here's what I had to say about his latest, "TKO".
Tom Schreck is a 'son of a gun'. Out the blue one day I get a friendly e-mail to see if I could submit a small review of 'TKO' on Amazon. The guy must have telepathy or something, because I was the the throws of reading the same novel.
Last year, 'Off the Ropes' was the best literary discovery I made, as far as new mysteries go. It was just sitting there on a shelf--the cover with a forlorn basset hound staring up towards a pair of boxing gloves. Granted a book should not be judged by its cover, but a cover can draw curious eyes to pick up said book to see what it's all about.
And it doesn't hurt that the newcomer was getting raves from mystery vets like Ken Bruen and J.A. Konrath.
The protagonist of both novels is Duffy Dombrowski (it says it right there on the cover!). He's not a guy you would associate with procedural mysteries. He isn't a private dick (or a public dick for that matter). Duffy is a man of simple pleasures. A bottle of Schlitz and some Elvis playing on the 8-track--not kidding--and he's a happy camper.
And for this social worker/part-time boxer, Duffy seems to get involved in situations that don't really go with his job title. But he fights the fights others won't. It's his mentality. Unlike his superior, Claudia the "Michelin Woman." She's the mother drone of social workers--somebody who is a strict enforcer of rules and just loves paperwork.
This time around one of Duffy's clients, "Hackin'" Howard Rheinhart, no shows a weekly session and soon high-school royalty (class president, head QB and cheerleaders) start turning up dead. The methods are similar to the murders Rheinhart committed some twenty-five years ago. Same MO and everything.
While his coworkers at Jewish United Services are quick to label Rheinhart guilty, Duffy comes to the defense of a man who, as he puts it, "had known a lifetime of pain." Getting to the bottom of things is never simple for Duffy, because he seemingly deals with one hurdle after another: boxing matches; out-maneuvering his Muslim basset hound, Allah-King; and becoming the sensei to a zit-faced karate-kicking McLovin, only without the coolness factor.
Just the first few pages of 'TKO' it was like being reacquainted with old friends. Duffy Dombrowski is a working man's hero. I don't want to draw comparisons to other mystery characters, because frankly, Duff is so unique a character to pigeonhole. And his company of friends--the "fearsome foursome," Kelley the cop--are a riot. Hell, the foursome alone are a carnival act: the stories they tell are worth the price of admission.
Tom Schreck is an author who has answered the 10-count. His first novel may have made him a contender in the literary world, but with each new round he's sure to get that big pay day and hit gloves with the heavyweights.