Green, Norman Shooting Dr. Jack

ISBN 13: 9780060888305

Shooting Dr. Jack

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9780060888305: Shooting Dr. Jack

Troutman Street runs along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, in between neighborhoods, unwanted and unclaimed. For most people who do business there -- whether prostitues, drug dealers, or more legitimate entrepreneurs -- Troutman Street is the end of the line. But for Thomas Rosselli and his partner Stoney, it's just the location of another scam, the latest incarnation in a long series of endeavors that work the fringes of capitalism, the broad gray areas where the rash and unwary are prey to sharp teeth and sticky fingers. The junkyard on Troutman Street is the perfect place to fly under the radar of the tax man, the cops, and even the drug dealers and wiseguys who'd want a piece of the action -- if they could figure out what it is.

Stoney thinks his biggest problem is the hangover he wakes up with every morning. He loves his wife and kids, but they're terrified of him. Even his cat hates him. Every time he gets behind the wheel of his car, he's rolling the dice; one more DWI and he'll do time for sure, and he can't afford that right now. His partner Tommy'd run the business right into the ground inside of six months -- or make them a fortune; no way to tell which.

Thomas Roselli, a.k.a. "Fat Tommy," a.k.a. "Tommy Bagadonuts," is a large man, of large appetites. He knows the best restaurants in New York and how much to tip the maître d' in each one. He knows who to call if he really, really wants you sleeping with the fishes in the bottom of the East River. If you met Tommy, you'd remember him, but he'd remember you, your phone number, your wife's name, and what his chances with her are. And Tommy has a soft spot for any stray that comes along.

Tuco is just such a stray. Now, thanks to Bagadonuts, he works in the junkyard on Troutman Street, and his life is about to go spinning into a new and more dangerous orbit. Unsure of himself, unskilled with women, and equally awkward with men, Tuco knows he'll learn more from these two in a year than he would in five years anywhere else, even if half of it he'd be better of not knowing. Tuco has a gift, one that will come in handy for Stoney and Tommy, maybe even save their lives, when people start dying on Troutman Street. But as he learns to use it -- and he struggles to walk the line between family, friends, and the law -- he almost forgets the first rule: Watch your back.

Written with the pulse of the city beating beneath its prose, Shooting Dr. Jack is compelling, powerful, and pitch-perfect, and Norman Green is an exciting new voice in contemporary fiction.

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Review:

It takes considerable skill to craft a gripping novel approaching 300 pages in which nothing much happens during the first 150. Fortunately for the readers of Norman Green's first book, Shooting Dr. Jack, Green's got the knack, in spades. His characters aren't drawn, they're acid-etched. His landscape, seamlessly rendered, is a gray, emotionless void:

Fall through the cracks of a better and kinder world, and you find yourself on Troutman Street. Dreams of a new world die in her sweatshops, cars and trucks die in her chop shops and junkyards, children die in her vacant lots, shooting one another for the right to sell crack on the two or three big intersections, junkies die wherever they happen to be when they shoot up--hallways, alleys, parking lots.

Tommy Rosselli, a.k.a. Fat Tommy, a.k.a. Tommy Bagadonuts, is a relatively brilliant entrepreneur who, while largely operating beyond the law, nonetheless owns a good and honest heart. Stoney, Tommy's brutal partner in a shady Brooklyn junkyard, is a smoldering alcoholic struggling to bring his body, soul, wife, and kids into some approximation of normalcy. And 18-year-old Eddie Tuco, an illiterate "Nuyorican" who works for Tommy and Stoney, faces temptation, redemption, and loss as a result.

Tommy and Stoney need to find out who left two dead teenagers in the junkyard, who killed their accountant, who ambushed Tommy in his apartment, who's been shadowing their employees, and why. Tuco does too, but he's got some demons to wrestle and scores to settle on his own. Rounding out this vision of desperation are the eponymous Dr. Jack--the name of both a drug and its dealer, which affect their users as Dr. Kevorkian affects his patients--and the junkyard's blighted Troutman Street landscape itself.

Not a mystery in the truest sense and not a thriller by most standards, Shooting Dr. Jack is both of those things and more. It's intelligent, it grabs like a vice in due course, and its dialogue and narrative resonate with urban grit and truth. --Michael Hudson

About the Author:

Norman Green reports this about himself: "I have always been careful, as Mark Twain advised, not to let schooling interfere with my education. Too careful, maybe. I have been, at various times, a truck driver, a construction worker, a project engineer, a factory rep, and a plant engineer, but never, until now, a writer." He lives in Emerson, New Jersey, with his wife, and is hard at work on his second novel.

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