by Tom Schreck
Tom Schreck’s The Vegas Knockout (Thomas and Mercer 2012) is a fun romp into the world of boxing, a habitat I rarely wander through. Well, there’s Rocky whose story made fighters warm and fuzzy and quintessentially likable. Schreck’s fighter is as appealing as Rocky without his chance for success.
The novel tells the story of Duffy Dombrowski, an amateur fighter with a day job as a social worker who gets a big break when he’s offered a job in Las Vegas as the punching bag for a heavy weight contender. Even when Boris Rusakov (good bad guy name, hunh?) turns out to have the social instincts of a snapping turtle with a mean streak that would scare Hannibal Lector, Duffy perseveres because it pays well and he’s broke. Things get interesting right away when he must take his strong-willed basset hound with him to Sin City, and again when Duffy’s accommodations end up to be a whore house.
While doing his gig, Duffy befriends a group of Mexican fighters at a time in Vegas’ history when a serial killer is murdering fighters before an upcoming show. The plot comes to a deadly head when Duffy kills his boss while protecting an illegal from his unwanted advances.
Scary themes–yes–but all told with a sense of humor (“the first one through was a croissant short of three hundred fifty pounds“)which lets the reader relax, knowing everything will work out for Duffy. Schreck throws out lots of original lines (“I saw Al [Duffy’s basset hound] do his telltale rounding so I stood and sort of meditated while he made like an oversized Play-Doh machine.”). I love the doggy bits–“I went straight to bed and found Al had beaten me there. He was on his back with all four feet in the air snoring...” True, some of the scenes were a bit over the top–like Duffy taking an untrained dog on an airplane. More than once, the plot line–while funny–crossed into unbelievable. Because of Schreck’s writing skill, I took them in the spirit of fiction.
Overall, this is a fun book, as easy to read as a large print novel, and an interesting peek into the world of boxing. I’d recommend it to anyone with a free evening and nowhere to go.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.