Pool Man

Fiction - Horror
187 Pages
Reviewed on 04/15/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Dan McDowell is a husband and father by day and an author by night. The end result, chilling stories with gritty, real people facing unmistakable obstacles. With inspiration emerging from the best and worst of Dan’s nightmares, memories, and hyperactive imagination, he weaves tales of bizarre and intriguing proportions into a new stratosphere of descriptive writing that remains both distinct and thought provoking. He and his family reside in the San Antonio, TX, area.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Pool Man is a psychological thriller/horror novel written by Dan McDowell. It's the year 1991. Greg Preakle, a one-armed pool man working at The Oak Hollow Hotel, has his life turned upside down after finding a dead body floating in the hotel pool. Jobless and broke, Greg's desperation leads him to participate in an outlandish and bloody cable quiz show called Twisted Hacks. This leads to a bizarre chain of events that Greg could never have anticipated. He joins the West Riverton High School as a janitor working for the slug-obsessed Principal John Fatts. But everything is not as it seems. Why is the basement off-limits? What's the deal with the creepy Dr. Carl Hicks? As Greg slowly acclimates himself to the oddities of the school, dead bodies start piling up whenever Greg is in the vicinity.

If surreal psychological thriller/horror is your jam, you'll have a blast with Pool Man. Filled with suspense, intrigue, and nail-biting thrills, Dan McDowell's uniquely twisted tale hooks you in from the get-go and refuses to let go until the end. The narrative switches timelines every now and then, creating an atmosphere filled with tension and dread that will have readers on the edge of their seats. I found the plot completely unpredictable. After the midway point, you find yourself trying to guess what's going to happen next, only to have the rug pulled out from under you. The eccentric characters keep you engaged with their idiosyncratic personas and odd behaviors. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

Asher Syed

Pool Man by Dan McDowell is a horror novella that revolves around its main character, Greg Preakle. Greg is rather unceremoniously dismissed from his job of twenty years as a pool maintenance man after a body turns up dead in the water. With little else to turn to, Greg soon answers an ad for individuals interested in participating in a televised game show by its production company, which hires Greg on the spot. The show is called Twisted Hacks and a better name it could not possibly have, as it is both twisted in nature and full of hacking. Limb loss and a good old-fashioned scalping are part of the fun. Things in Greg's life go from bad to worse and in alternating storylines, we can see the trajectory of a pool man's life.

I'm not usually a fan of first-person narratives but Greg is a character whose mind a reader needs to be in for Pool Man to work. And work it does. Dan McDowell packs a mighty series of plot punches in a relatively compact manuscript that is entertaining and engrossing. I cared about Greg as I saw his life through his own eyes. I might not have appreciated his love of the group Quiet Riot, but he does make up for it with Poison. The pop culture references add an element of fun to this horror mystery, and so too does Greg's acerbic narrative and sarcasm even when it comes to the shoulder nub where his arm used to be. This is not going to be a story for every reader, but for all those out there who appreciate intelligent dark fiction, this one is a real winner.

K.C. Finn

Pool Man is a work of fiction in the horror and psychological fiction subgenres. It is suitable for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Dan McDowell. The book follows our protagonist Greg Preakle after a death at the hotel he works at leaves him unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. Out of desperation, he goes onto a strange new game show to try to make money, but the arrival of a new job with an unpleasant boss creates a cocktail of disaster that threatens to pull his life apart. As the pressure mounts, Greg finds himself tempted more and more to open a door that he knows should never be opened.

This was a very careful and methodically told story about the darker aspects of life, told convincingly through the eyes of a protagonist whose backstory of grief and living through adversity unfolds beautifully as his new life starts to take its toll. Dan McDowell proves himself a masterful student of character development as Greg’s present-day struggles slowly reveal more and more about his character to the reader, providing a treat on every page as we get to know this stunningly realized character a little bit more. Pool Man contains a beautifully realized and emotionally complex narrative that covers a broad range of issues with highly capable sensitivity, always leaving us feeling for Greg as his journey goes through another twist or turn. There is a real poignancy to the story being told, and I found after finishing the last page that it left a meaningful impression on me.