I've enjoyed all the previous FIGHT CARD books very much, and the just-released fourth volume, COUNTERPUNCH, is by my old friend Wayne Dundee writing under the house-name Jack Tunney. So I expected to enjoy it, too, and as always, Dundee doesn't disappoint.
COUNTERPUNCH is the story of Danny "Duke" Dugronski, an aging fighter in Milwaukee who's at the tail end of his career. After his long-time manager dies suddenly of a heart attack, he discovers that the man may have been involved in a shady deal with a mobster who's trying to move into the fight game. Dugronski doesn't really believe that for a second, but he has to find out the truth and his investigation leads him into trouble and more trouble.
At the same time, Dugronski is moving into a tentative romance with the daughter of his late manager, who's recently divorced from her cop ex-husband. It's open to debate whether the guy is going to be a help to the Duke's efforts or a hindrance, and there's also the worry about whether his new enemies may strike at him through those he cares about.
There's a strong thread of decency and humanity that runs through all of Dundee's work, and it's certainly present here. Danny Dugronski is a fine hero, a strong man who won't let obstacles get in the way of him doing what he thinks is right. There's also plenty of action, as COUNTERPUNCH opens and closes with a pair of epic battles in the ring. If you haven't sampled the FIGHT CARD series yet, this one is an excellent place to start, and if you've read and enjoyed the others, don't hesitate to grab this one, too. I had a great time reading it.