Violence is no stranger to Brooklyn's Troutman Street, a place where whores, junkies, businesses, cars, and dreams go to die. But here, in a junkyard on Troutman Street, three men search for redemption.
Stoney wakes up with a hangover every morning. He loves his family, but they're terrified of him. One more DWI and he'll do time that he can't afford. His partner Tommy would run their "business" right into the ground -- or make them a fortune; no way to tell which.
Tommy Roselli, a.ka. "Fat Tommy," a.ka. "Tommy Bagadonuts" 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 wants you sleeping with the fishes. 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.
Tuco has a gift, one that will come in handy for Stoney and Tommy when people start dying on Troutman Street. But as he learns to use it -- struggling to walk the line between family, friends, and the law -- he almost forgets the first rule of Troutman Street: Watch your back.
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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 HudsonAbout 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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