Reviews During Wartime

Happy new year!

I’m getting over the flu, which I contracted while researching the next Jay Desmarteaux novel, wandering around Iberia and Vermilion Parishes in Louisiana. I visited the grave of bluesman Slim Harpo and the Louisiana Capitol Building, where Huey Long was assassinated. You can read about it at Do Some Damage, where I call it Research Without a Cause.

Which answers the question to the first review of Life During Wartime, my new story collection, up at Out of the Gutter: “Amazingly, the dialogue, settings, and situations all ring true. Either Pluck has done some serious research or he’s lived a life on the move!”
I love to travel, and I love writing stories that use what I see and learn from new places and people. If you haven’t pre-ordered Life During Wartime, Down & Out Books has a 60% discount on the ebooks. I will be signing the book at Mysterious Bookshop and Watchung Booksellers in February, and I will put the updates on my Events page. If you can’t get one in person, Down & Out Books has all the links to your favorite suppliers.

Life During Wartime Paperback

Some of my research had a cause, like dropping into Vermilionville, a living Acadian village rather like Colonial Williamsburg, stopping by to see the Evangeline Tree in St. Martinsville, a memorial to Longfellow’s poem of the same name, based on people who lived in the area.  One of them is name checked in James Lee Burke’s latest novel Robicheaux, which I reviewed for Criminal Element. I did stop to eat at Victor’s Cafeteria where Dave Robicheaux and Cletus Purcell grab breakfast in New Iberia. You read about my adventures in Cajun Country at SleuthSayers, and you can also see my pictures on Instagram, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Another story that drew from my travels is “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind,” in Alive in Shape and Color. I’ve received a lot of emails about this one, which Liz French of Library Journal called “stunning,” and the reviewer at the New York Times found disturbing enough to call me out by name. Robert Lopresti loved it but wasn’t sure if it was “crime”, but I think murders at an archaeological dig in Germany are criminal enough.  So, if you haven’t jumped on Alive in Shape and Color, you don’t want to miss it. Like its Edward Hopper-themed forebear, it’s making a splash.

Life During Wartime events! Don’t say you weren’t warned…

Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 PM: The official launch of my story collection Life During Wartime at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair! Snacks and a brief reading and a Q&A.

Wednesday, February 21st at 6:30 PM: Life During Wartime  and Slaughterhouse Blues signing event with Nick Kolakowski at The Mysterious Bookshop. Join me and Nick for a night of noir. One week after Valentine’s Day, your heart will have recovered.

Thursday, March 8th at 6:00 PM: A Montclair Authors Meet & Greet at Sotheby’s, 32 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ. Come join us for wine and cheese and rub suede elbow patches with local Montclair authors! I’ll be in the corner eating all the Gruyere.

My favorite books read in 2017

Most of these were published within a year or so. I’ve never been good at jumping on new books, I prefer to wait until the dust settles. But I did enjoy “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian.

Right now I’m reading Robicheaux by James Lee Burke, if I finish it before the ball drops, I’ll add it to the list if it makes the cut. So far, it will.

Hard Rain Falling, by Don Carpenter

Fat City, by Leonard Gardner

I’ll Bring You the Birds From Out of the Sky, by Brian Hodge, illustrated by Kim Parkhurst

The Hemingway Thief, by Shaun Harris

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, by Blair Braverman

Fire on the Mountain, by Terry Bisson

The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake

Since I Laid My Burden Down, by Brontez Purnell

Tales from the Loop, by Simon Stålenhag

Made for Love, by Alissa Nutting

She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

The Changeling, by Victor LaValle

Two and Two: McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me, by Rafe Bartholomew

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Krazy: The Black and White World of George Herriman, by Michael Tisserand

Hunger: A Memoir, by Roxane Gay

The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney

A Negro and an Ofay, by Danny Gardner

The Whiskey Rebels, by David Liss

The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, by Laird Barron

Girls on Fire, by Robin Wasserman

Kings of Midnight, by Wallace Stroby

The Devil of Nanking, by Mo Hayder (aka Nanking)

The Trees, by Ali Shaw

Wonder Woman v.1: The Lies, by Greg Rucka

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg

The Pugilist at Rest, by Thom Jones

The Midnight Line, by Lee Child

Ultraluminous, by Katherine Faw

Library Journal loves Alive in Shape and Color

Last year’s Edward Hopper-themed anthology edited by Lawrence Block blew a lot of people away, and I loved it. So I was thrilled when Lawrence Block asked me to pen a story for the second volume, which was open to all works of art. I chose “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind”, by Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was a political painting that was, as they say, evergreen.

Publishers Weekly loves the new book, and now Library Journal’s Liz French does as well. I’m quite chuffed that she called my story “stunning” and selected it, along with Joe Lansdale’s, as one of her two favorites:

Following the success of 2016’s art-related collection In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, also edited by Block, this follow-up falls a little short but still contains some nuggets. Unlike the Hopper-centric stories of the earlier volume, this title features all manner of art, from the cave paintings of Lascaux (Jeffery Deaver’s “A Significant Find”) to Balthus (Joyce Carol Oates’s creepy “Les Beaux Jours”), Bosch (Michael Connelly’s taut “The Third Panel”), Van Gogh (David Morrell’s “Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity”), Rodin (Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s uneven “Thinkers”), and many others. Some authors tell the painting’s creation myth, with Morrell’s Stephen King-inflected offering a standout, and Nicholas Christopher contributing “Girl with a Fan” (Gauguin), a spy story with Nazis. Sarah Weinman’s period-perfect “The Big Town,” and Lee Child’s well-crafted “Pierre, Lucien, and Me” feature art-loving protagonists compelled by paintings to do wrong. In “The Great Wave,” S.J. Rozan’s captive narrator speaks to a print of Katsushika Hokusai’s masterpiece (it talks back). Yet two of the best stories, Joe R. Lansdale’s deceptively folksy “Charlie the Barber,” and Thomas Pluck’s stunning “Truth Comes Out of Her Well To Shame Mankind,” barely mention their chosen artworks. VERDICT Reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, this anthology has something, often nasty or scary, for every art lover.—Liz French, Library Journal

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

This was a nice shot in the arm after the New York Times reviewer who missed the point of the story, but gave me my first mention in the newspaper of record.

You can get Alive in Shape in Color in bookstores and libraries everywhere. It’s a beautiful book with full color reproductions of the art, and makes a lovely gift.

 

Sunday in Asbury Park with George, and Life During Wartime

This Sunday I’m reading in Asbury Park with a gaggle of great writers:

Noir at the Bar AP Poster

Yeah that’s Dennis Tafoya AND Wallace Stroby. Life goals.

All the details are above. Come join us, and then wait at the Stone Pony for Bruce to show up. I hear if you say “Jersey Freeze” three times he appears.

Also, my story collection LIFE DURING WARTIME from Down & Out Books has an official release date: January 29th! It collects stories from best-ofs and anthologies and defunct periodicals, and stories I’ve only read at Noirs at the Bar, new ones, and “The Last Detail,” which begins right after Bad Boy Boogie ends. And check out that snazzy cover:

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Killing Malmon: 30 Authors Kill Dan to Fight MS, now available

Killing Malmon is now available!

Crime fiction fans and Crimespree Magazine reviewers Dan and Kate Malmon approached 30 writers including myself, to KILL DAN MALMON. My story is called “Russian Roulette,” and not only pits Dan against a bigmouth Jersey goombah in some of my favorite Twin Cities haunts, it’s also based on a humiliatingly funny and true story involving myself, a snazzy leather jacket, and rogue feminine hygiene products.

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Dan and Kate are great people, and Down & Out Books will publish this handsome volume and donate the proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Maybe you’ve bought Kate’s delicious cookies to help fight MS. Or sponsored a bicycle ride. Now you can read stories from myself and Dana Cameron, Hector Acosta, Eric Beetner, Sarah M. Chen, Matthew Clemens, Angel Colón, Hilary Davidson, Cory Funk, Danny Gardner, Paul J. Garth, Rob Hart, Ed Kurtz, S.W. Lauden, Russel D. McLean, Jeff Macfee, Erin Mitchell, Erica Ruth Neubauer, Brad Parks, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson, Alex Segura, Jeff Shelby, Nathan Singer, Josh Stallings, Jay Stringer, R.D. Sullivan, Bryan VanMeter, Holly West, and Dave White.

I wrote my story with Josh Stallings at his mountain retreat, while he pecked away at his hilarious superhero tale, and Erika delivered life-saving medication: her delicious chili and sips of fine whisky. I got to hear several of these at the secret Noir at the Bar we held for Dan & Kate, and they are gut-busting wallops of hard-boiled crime from some of the best writers in the genre (and me). You can order it here:

KILLING MALMON edited by Dan and Kate Malmon

*note: killing Dan Malmon will NOT cure Multiple Sclerosis.

**Eating ketchup on a hot dog does not cause “tongue psychosis.”

Cover Reveal for Life During Wartime

LIFE DURING WARTIME is my newest story collection, out January 29th 2018, from Down & Out Books. It collects my best stories and includes some new ones, such as the title story, and stories heard only at various readings across the country, such as “The Cronus Club,” “Gunplay,” “Deadbeat,” and others. I’ll let you know when it is available for pre-order. Most of these stories have never seen print. Some were in Kindle collections, but those are now out of print. It does NOT include “Russian Roulette,” which you can only read in the excellent collection KILLING MALMON.

Here is the cover:

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Killing Malmon: 30 authors kill Dan Malmon to defeat Multiple Sclerosis

Killing Malmon is available for pre-order! Crime fiction fans and Crimespree Magazine reviewers Dan and Kate Malmon approached 30 writers including myself, to KILL DAN MALMON. My story is called “Russian Roulette,” and not only pits Dan against a bigmouth Jersey goombah in some of my favorite Twin Cities haunts, it’s also based on a humiliatingly funny and true story involving myself, a snazzy leather jacket, and rogue feminine hygiene products.

cover-malmon-killing-malmon-300x450px

Dan and Kate are great people, and Down & Out Books will publish this handsome volume and donate the proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Maybe you’ve bought Kate’s delicious cookies to help fight MS. Or sponsored a bicycle ride. Now you can read stories from myself and Dana Cameron, Hector Acosta, Eric Beetner, Sarah M. Chen, Matthew Clemens, Angel Colón, Hilary Davidson, Cory Funk, Danny Gardner, Paul J. Garth, Rob Hart, Ed Kurtz, S.W. Lauden, Russel D. McLean, Jeff Macfee, Erin Mitchell, Erica Ruth Neubauer, Brad Parks, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson, Alex Segura, Jeff Shelby, Nathan Singer, Josh Stallings, Jay Stringer, R.D. Sullivan, Bryan VanMeter, Holly West, and Dave White.

I wrote my story with Josh Stallings at his mountain retreat, while he pecked away at his hilarious superhero tale, and Erika delivered life-saving medication: her delicious chili and sips of fine whisky. I got to hear several of these at the secret Noir at the Bar we held for Dan & Kate, and they are gut-busting wallops of hard-boiled crime from some of the best writers in the genre (and me). You can pre-order it here:

KILLING MALMON edited by Dan and Kate Malmon

*note: killing Dan will NOT cure Multiple Sclerosis.

**Eating ketchup on a hot dog will not cause “tongue psychosis.”