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Showing 1-10 of 39 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 66 reviews
on July 15, 2012
On The Ropes is the best first novel I've read in ages. If you like Crais, Robert B. Parker or Lee Child you'll love Tom Schreck's Duffy Dombrowski. Dombrowski wears his flaws like a facial tattoo; he drinks too much; shows nothing but contempt for faux authority figures like his overweight beaucratic boss. He's a semi-successful pro boxer, a professional "opponent" with a a record just attractive enough for him to get fights, but not so attractive as to scare away potential up and comers. His day job is social worker, constantly harangued about his lack of detailed paperwork by higher ups, Dombrrowski goes out of his way to avoid doing what he sees as useless makework.

It's the flaws that make this character in fact all the characters in this book shine. While the story is entertaining and with enough excitement and plot twist to keep those fans of Parker or Child happy, where Schreck really pulls ahead of the rest is in creating characters that seem to pop off the page. Anyone who has been around boxing (or worked in an office for that matter) will recognize and relate to the characters that people this book. However, the author manages to do this without making these recognizable folk into boring caricatured cliche's. His characters are three dimensional, funny and oh-so realistic.

On the Ropes is exciting and hilarious. I read this one in two sittings and am looking forward to reading Vegas Knockout right when I'm done with this review.
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on November 4, 2012
I first got introduced to the wise-cracking, likable pro-am boxer/social worker Duffy Dombrowski in The Vegas Knockout, which is about four- or five-deep into the hilarious, action-packed misadventures of this amateur sleuth. Since I enjoyed that book, I thought I might return to the first in the series and pick up the story. On The Ropes- Round One fully delivered on all counts.

In this installment, we meet Duffy Dombrowski for the first time, and we get a good look at his life as both a social worker and a pro-am boxer. All of the major, recurring characters are fully established in the first go-round, and the key recurring sub-plot devices, such as his perpetual cat-and-mouse game with his boss (who is forever scheming up ways to can him), his on-and-off again relationship with the comely office receptionist (who disturbingly seems to heavily channel Velda from Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer novels), his relationships with his friend the doctor (who also happens to be his erstwhile landlord and unwilling accomplice in his workplace guerilla war with his boss) and his friend the cop ( who as luck would have it, is Irish!), and let's not forget the barfly-foursome that always seems to be at AJ's, the local bar that Duffy frequents in order to re-hydrate himself with his electrolyte elixir of choice- Schlitz. There's also Duffy's trainer and life-long mentor, Smitty (who, by coincidence, just happens to be old, wiry, worldly-wise in that combination urban jungle, boxing ring kind of way, and black) who arranges fights for Duffy and tries- typically in vain- to keep the big, dumb, Irish-Polish lad on the straight-and-narrow. Sadly, as the series progresses, Smitty (and Lisa, the Velda-esque moll) gets progressively gets less billing and the barfly-foursome's Stooge-like antics become a bit more integral to each outing's storyline.

Without giving too much away, one of Duffy's clients, a crack-addicted prostitute, implores him to find her missing step-daughter and take care of her dog, Allah-King, a basset-hound that also happens to be a failed bomb-sniffing dog for Nation of Islam (how he works this latter, hilarious point into the story makes for an interesting and even more hilarious plot device). Duffy complies with her requests, and Allah-King, or Al for short, quickly proceeds to make a mess of his already disordered life. Towards the end of the story, Al proves his worth, and man and dog establish their bond as a comical, but more-or-less effective crime-fighting duo.

In short order, his client winds up dead, and the fuzz is none-too-cooperative in investigating her murder and in assisting in finding her step-daughter, who we later learn has actually been kidnapped by some rather nasty types looking to exploit her. Throughout the story, there is the author's wry social commentary, intelligent insights into what motivates people, and best of all, a healthy dose of jaded cynicism towards dating and male female relationships (yet another interesting sub-plot the author throws at us, also with hilarious results).

Of special note in this book was the way in which the Duff-ster dealt with Miss Hippenbecker, a surly, portly, burnt-out teacher who had a rather objectionable opinion of her minority student charges (the glib repartee on pages 156-8, ending in the Duff-ster calling her 'Miss Hippof----r', was over-the-top). I also noted the shout-out to Robert B. Parker's Spenser mysteries, and being a rabid fan of the wise-cracking, Boston P.I. (who also was a boxer in his youth), Schreck automatically endeared me to the Duff-ster. Last, but not least, I especially liked how the Duff-ster foiled his boss's plans to fire him. With lots of plots and sub-plots (and a bit of domestic terrorism thrown in just keep us interested), a collage of wacky characters and a rousing climax, Schreck repeatedly stands up and delivers. I liked the book so much that I went out and bought the second outing.

I really enjoyed reading the book, and I strongly advise anyone looking to read good fiction to pick up this book, fix themselves an extended cocktail, grab some snacks and cancel all appointments for the day. You will be glad you did once you finish this book.
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on January 1, 2008
The Amazon shorts whetted my appetite for "On the Ropes" by Tom Shreck. While reading the short stories I found myself with lots of questions and wanting to know more about the characters. I wanted to know more about the kind of person Duffy was, how he got Al, what made the Fearsome Foursome tick and if they had more in them than crazy conversations. "On the Ropes" answered all my questions and more. This book is action packed with mystery, terrorism, porn, child abuse, sex, drugs and Elvis tunes!

Duffy is a likeable character. He doesn't try to hide, make excuses for, or sugarcoat his faults. His belief in the human race endears him to you. He sees the good in people and he doesn't judge those who are down on their luck for what they've done or who they've become. Duffy sees both sides of the coin. But on the other hand, when it comes to bad guys he doesn't hesitate to act on his beliefs. Right or wrong Duffy acts on those beliefs and he doesn't let little things like the law or protocol get in his way, even if that means putting his boxing skills to the ultimate test.

My emotions ran the gamut with this book. I laughed, I was frustrated/cried, I was angry and I was elated. I couldn't stop turning the pages as I had to find out what happened next. Can't wait to find out what happens with Duffy and Al next!
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on February 22, 2013
This is a wonderful book!! Honestly, parts were laugh out loud funny. I kept reading parts to my hubby who couldn't believe how much I was laughing... I truly hated to see it end and can only hope Mr. Schenck is busy writing a second book with the same cast of characters....kudos to you Sir on a terrific debut novel!!
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on March 20, 2013
I could relate to the reality of working with clients with drug and alcohol addictions. The difficulty of getting results with limited funds and clients who are so caught up in addiction is universal. Tom Schreck wove in his work experience with a good mystery. So often authors seem to know so little about the setting to which they strive to write. Schreck worked in his life experience into this book so naturally. I hope to read other Dombrowski mysteries in the future.

There is a lot of funny characters and situations in the book that provides a laugh or a smile and moves the book along as well.
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on October 17, 2016
One of the most original and refreshing characters I've had the great pleasure of reading! Great story and a rogues gallery of supporting characters make this the beginning of a magical series. Bring on the next installment! I'm already a fan!
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on December 4, 2012
If you like a little mystery mixed in with your boxing - you'll really enjoy the Duffy Dombrowski series. Duffy is a man's man - meaning he likes cheap beer and the wrong women. He's an old-school guy trapped in a modern-day man's body (listening to Elvis 8-tracks in a Caddy Eldorado...) - and he's the kind of guy you'd actually like to know in real life.

I like Tom Schreck's writing style - it's got a good pace, enough humor and action to keep it interesting. I'll definitely read more in the series...
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on August 6, 2012
A fun read with some boxing thrown in but more about the protagonist who cares for his social service clients too much and cannot say no! In the early chapters I think the author tries too hard to make the main character quirky and memorable and goes somewhat overboard but as the book progresses the main character becomes more believable in my eyes and the book is very enjoyable thereafter. I am looking forward to reading the next adventure and to find out where this character goes (and of course how the dog makes out as well!).
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on April 11, 2014
After reading the short story Planter's Punch which featured the dynamic duo, Duffy and Al (the basset hound), I had to start reading the series. On the Ropes is the first one and goes into how Al and Duffy got together, which I really enjoyed. Light reading, action, and so funny too. It kept me entertained all the way through to the end. I've just started the second book in this series, and I am already hooked.
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on December 21, 2012
The Duffy Dombroski series captures humor and irony creating a wild and funny read . You will enjoy every page of this book as Duffy struggles with the daily troubles of life yet somehow tends to always get it right.

A great read for mystery and humor lovers that enjoy a character that is like most of us---not a super hero!!!
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