Sunday, October 18, 2009

Out Cold-Tom Schreck

Out Cold
Tom Schreck
Echelon, Dec 2009, $14.99
www.echelonpress.com
ISBN 9781590806227

In Crawford, New York, at the not for profit Jewish Unified Services, guidance counselor Duffy Dombrowski was knocked Out Cold last week while sparring with a heavyweight so he remains somewhat disoriented. Back at work after a few sick days, his first client is late twenties schizophrenic Karl Greene, who brings new meaning to paranoia starting with his Michael Jackson surgical mask and even challenging what Duffy means by the ominous threat of “good morning”.

Karl tells Duffy that he is back on the street, off his meds and the NOW is setting terrorist fires as a forerunner of a bigger plot. When Duffy begins to understand Karl’s brand of military-industrial-political-terrorist paranoid complex, he begins to wonder how much brain damage he received from the left hook he failed to see yet he still denies wobbling. However the news report of an ROTC deadly arsonist fire just like Karl claimed spins Duffy’s head further. With his roommate Al the Basset Hound and crazy Karl at his own deranged side as well as the Fearsome Foursome, Duffy tries to prevent terrorist attacks at the Notre Dame football home opener and a massacre at either his or Karl’s respective former high school. That is as important is liberating Al’s relatives from a basset-hound factory.

This over the top of the Adirondack Park peaks is a well written, but strangely mixed amateur sleuth thriller as dark humor blends (not always smoothly for us squeamish reviewers) with some serious scenarios. Duffy struggles with regaining his equilibrium though in total denial, which cleverly mirrors Karl’s outlook. Although the jocularity seems out of place at times especially with deaths from terrorist activity and the threat of much more violence, Columbine-style, Tom Schreck provides a strong thriller as Duffy can only cope through mocking humor with what he faces (see TKO and On The Ropes).

Harriet Klausner