Friday, December 12, 2008

Meet Duffy Dombrowski: The Man of Female Protagonists' Dreams

Tom Schreck was the director of an inner city drug clinic; he’s a black belt and a world championship boxing official. As an author he created the Duffy Dombrowski Mysteries, a series Publishers Weekly called “A Knockout!” Follow Duffy, the not-so-social-worker, as he moonlights as a bad professional boxer, drinks with his collection of lovable loser friends and somehow tries to exert a measure of control over his adopted Black Muslim basset hound Al. All this while trying to right the wrongs forced upon his vulnerable caseload.

“On the Ropes” was a Lovey and Crimespree Magazine nominee for “Best First Mystery” and an IMBA Bestseller. Tom is featured in the Echelon anthology “Missing” and his next Duffy Mystery is due out sometime in 2009.

First of all I’m honored to be a guest of The Stiletto Gang.

Any assemblage of women under that banner has to be a fun group.

And here’s a dirty little secret about me—my wife likes me to pick out her heels for her. She finds it only somewhat disturbing that I know more about women’s shoes than she does, but she does like my taste: at least 3.5 inches, (preferably sling backs), patent leather, black or animal print and with an obnoxiously pointed toe. Something tells me that’s all I should say on this topic.

I write the Duffy Dombrowski Mystery series. Duffy is a low level social worker whose caseload includes crack whores, addicts, small-time crooks and various other members of society that you’d find if you looked under enough rocks. At night he moonlights as a bad professional boxer, taking any fight he can for the extra cash. He beats the really bad fighters and loses to the good ones.

He’s also been saddled with a rescued basset hound named Al who flunked out of the Nation of Islam’s security force due to his personal hygiene challenges. Al has raised disobedience to a new level, prefers to have Duffy wait on him, and has a tendency to make the surrounding air unbreathable. He also has an uncanny knack of showing up at the exact right time and has saved Duffy’s ass on more than one occasion.

So a counselor with a repulsive caseload whose main hobby is a sport that involves assaultive behavior and a pet whose main traits involve flatulence, drooling, and the destruction of household furniture…

Just what today’s female readership is longing for, right?

Well, I think they should for several key reasons.

Reason One: Duffy is sensitive without being all Phil Donohue about it. He’s a Robin Hood for the little guy but he’s no bleeding heart limousine liberal—he lives it everyday. He also knows a manipulative con artist exploiting the system when he sees one.

Reason Two: Duffy can kick ass and think. He isn’t violent for the fun of it -- except in the gym -- but when someone is abusing the vulnerable, Duffy knows it’s going to take more than reasoning to get it to stop. Sure, he usually takes time to think things through before he throws a punch…usually, depending on how the rest of his day went.

Reason Three: Duffy isn’t a cliché. Sure, he can fight but he gets beat, he can’t cook, he lives in a trailer, not a 52-foot houseboat, he’s a counselor not a shrink, and he knows nothing about the law, forensics or science. He’s real and he’s genuine.

In other words I think Duffy would make a great boyfriend to all those frustrated female protagonists out there. All the loser men who fear commitment and intimacy and all the limp wristed wimps that our favorite female sleuths have to put up with would be refreshed with Duff’s company.

That is, if they could stand the trailer, the drooling, farting hound and Duff’s penchant for Schlitz.

Well… maybe.

Tom Schreck

For an in-depth review of On the Ropes check out the following blog -


  1. Hey, Tom: Thanks for posting with us today. Your wife and I sound like we have the exact same taste in shoes. :-) Maggie

  2. Hi Tom,
    You and your dog are everywhere today. Much luck with On the Ropes.

    I love this blogspot. It's definitely in the Christmas spirit. Very nicely done.

    Morgan Mandel

  3. Having met you Tom, Duffy's life sounds autobiographical....okay, maybe not the drooling part, but the flatulence, for sure.....

  4. I don't know from women's shoes but I know an endearing character when I meet one.

    Duffy Dombrowski is the feel good, tough but sensitive gumshoe of the year.
    (Writers need a cliche like they need a hole in the head so I'm sorry if I'm bordering on "you'll laugh, you'll cry" territory but in this case it's true!)
    The books had me laughing, furiously turning pages, misty, wishing I were Duff, happy as all heck I wasn't Duff and all 'round wishing I could grab a cold one with any one of the characters.
    Come to think of it, I have either met or have been just about everyone in Duff's and Al's world.

    The Duff and Al team are tops in my book. Aces, baby.

    Thanks for the excellent work, Tom, and for the guest blog. Looking forward to round 3 in 2009.

  5. Well this woman absolutely LOVES Duffy and can't wait for book #3!

    Tom, you forgot the part about Duffy getting his nuts crunched every other page. If that doesn't bring the ladies in, nothing will.

  6. wow...This is a friendly place!

    Ladies--thanks for the invite...

    And I'm digging the marquee slide show!

    Morgan--thanks for hosting me today at your place as well!

    MC--the drooling included...BB-the check is in the mail... crunch a few nuts in your work as well...perhaps not as literally...

  7. Tom, where did that great marquee slide show come from? I love it. And I love Duffy. You've created such a fascinating, complex guy--and he's very into "keeping it real."

    Long live Duffy! (Although I think his trailer could use a woman's touch.)

  8. Oops. I didn't mean to be anonymous! See, Tom, I'm typing with wet fingernails, another girlie thing and I just tapped a key lightly so I wouldn't ruin my mani...

  9. I just ordered both books and cant wait to start them. just promise me you and JE will publish at different times each year so I have enough good stuff to get me through till you put the next book out

  10. Tom,

    Thanks for the invite to this blog. I agree with Davida... between you and JE, I will have plenty of great stuff to read and listen to. Thanks and Happy Holidays.


  11. Tom, it shows a certain hubris to imply you've figured out the female half of the world, but I salute your chutzpah!

  12. Not so sure how my female protagonist would take to Duffy, but if he needs a home for Al, I know Mace Bauer would take HIM in. She lives out in the woods in Florida, and could use some help from a basset scaring away garbage-raiding raccoons.
    Good luck on the book, Tom!

  13. Is it a coincidence you and your wife have the same shoe size, or is that just what you tell the salespeople in the shoe department when you're trying them on? And by the way, that strapless number you wore at Bouchercon was killer...but despite your conflicted taste in wardrobes, you're a helluva writer, and Duffy is a guy we either wish we were, or at the very least wish we knew in real life.

  14. Keith, Joann,Deb--thanks for showing up! Midnight Ink in the house!

    Maria, Davida, Belaire--thanks for making the scene.

    And the understated Tim--that's the last time I confide in you!

  15. Love the shorts, too. 'Duffy Vinci Code' & ' Duffy By Decision' were fantastic tales showing Duff's toughness and morality.
    How can ya not just love the big lug?