Two Saps at The Mysterious Bookshop…

This Wednesday, join me and Nick Kolakowski for a reading and signing at The Mysterious Bookshop, starting at 6:30PM. There will be beer!

2018-02-16 13_26_04-New this week at the Mysterious Bookshop - - Gmail


Nick will have his novella Slaughterhouse Blues and I’ve got Life During Wartime, a collection of 21 stories, from Denny the Dent, stories chosen for the Year’s Best Mystery and Crime, and the Jay Desmarteaux yarn that begins where Bad Boy Boogie leaves off.

Can’t make it? Order a signed copy from the store, to pick up or have shipped to you! They can even have books inscribed for you.

Pre-order Slaughterhouse Blues signed

Pre-order Life During Wartime signed


Today is the day… Life During Wartime and Other Stories

“Pluck likes to explore micro-cultures–Mohawk skywalkers, elite Wall Street brokers, veterinary workers, MMA fighters, cruel middle schoolers, and single mothers from Harlem, among many other types and anti-types. 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!) ” —Out of the Gutter Online

To answer that wonderful review, I do a bit of both. I love research, and when I find something that interests me, I sack it away to explore late. Firecracker will tell you about road trips to visit strange places, like the former Nazi summer camp in Andover, New Jersey, where the American Bund marched. Or a museum to see a neolithic Venus fetish that looks like a woman holding a sword. Chatting with strangers to pick their brains, in bars, trains, elevators, and on the street. Driving over swamps in Louisiana to figure out where you could jump and have a chance of survival… I do research without leaving my desk, too, but you can’t depend on wacky wikis and Google all the time. You need to talk to people or observe them, and I’ve been lucky enough to know some very interesting characters, who I pay tribute to whenever I write.


Take a ride on the neuter scooter in “The Big Snip,” selected as one of the best crime stories of 2016. Follow a mountain man who’s not what he seems into a snowbound frontier town where evil has sunk its claws. Dine at the most exclusive restaurant in New York, where “Eat the Rich” takes on a whole new meaning. Meet Denny the Dent, a hulking 350 pounds of muscle who wouldn’t harm a fly…but who’ll gladly crush a bully’s skull like a nut. And read the Jay Desmarteaux yarn that takes off where Bad Boy Boogie ends.

These are stories that Wayne D. Dundee calls “hard-hitting bombs” and Johnny Shaw says are full of “gut punches and belly laughs” and I think you’ll enjoy them. A gonzo investigation to find the assassin of the almighty in “Six Feet Under God,” two lovers who practice the most unsafe sex of all in “GunPlay,” which Hilary Davidson read at Noir at the Bar and brought down the house, to the opener, “Freedom Bird,” one of my most personal and favorite stories, which you can read here om Criminal Element.

Available directly from Down & Out Books (they give you the ebook for free with a paperback purchase), at your local bookstore through IndieBound, and from the usual retailers:

• Barnes & Noble — Trade Paperback | eBook
• iTunes — eBook
• Kobo — eBook
• Amazon — Trade Paperback | eBook

If you would like a personalized copy, I have a few left. You can email me at the Contact Form above.

Life During Wartime pre-order discounts and events

For years, readers wanted my stories in print. Well, now’s your chance!

Life During Wartime is a blackjack 21 of my best stories, including “The Big Snip” which appeared in The Best Crime & Mystery 2016, edited by Kristin Kathryn Rusch (and originally in Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block). It has the Jay Desmarteaux story that begins where Bad Boy Boogie leaves off,. and three Denny the Dent tales, as well as new stories you haven’t seen before, like “The Cronus Club” and stories that were only in anthologies and hard to find out of print zines, like “Firecracker” and “Freedom Bird” and “The Story of O Street,” or crowd pleasers like “GunPlay” that were only heard at Noir at the Bar events. It snagged a great review from Out of the Gutter, and you can read the first story, “Freedom Bird,” here on Criminal Element.

Life During Wartime coverLike the song the title story gets its name from, this book is a van loaded with weapons, locked up and ready to go.

And the best thing is that Barnes & Noble has decided to bless me with a 30% discount on the paperback! A mere $12 for a 364 page collection. Vhat a bargain! as they say in Havaii…. (you’ll have to read “Six Feet Under God” to get that joke).  Down & Out Books has a generous 60% discount on the ebooks if you prefer digital. That’s practically a Kindle matchbook price, if you want both.  The book drops January 29th, so who knows how long Barnes and/or Noble will keep this low price.

Here are the events I’ll be attending in 2018, so far. I WILL be at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, hopefully with the second Jay Desmarteaux novel, RIFF RAFF, either in print or about to be released, so there will be ARCs or books, we shall see. I’m not rushing this one, it’s set in Louisiana and encompassing that big beautiful state and its many people is taking all I’ve got. But I’m loving it!

I hope to see you at one of these events. If you can’t make it, and would like a signed copy of Life During Wartime, reply to this email. They are $21 shipped, but I bundle them with Blade of Dishonor for $35 or all three books- Bad Boy Boogie, Blade, LDW, for $50 shipped.

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.

The State of the Short Story in Crime Fiction

If you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, or horror as well as crime you might notice that there are fewer markets for short fiction for the crime genre than the others. Many come and go, even if they consistently publish stories chosen for yearly awards, they can’t seem to survive.
At SleuthSayers, I interviewed 7 editors of current and defunct crime fiction markets, print and online, about the difficulties, the state of the fandom, and what YOU can do to make a more vibrant scene.
And a reminder, Life During Wartime: 21 Stories by Thomas Pluck is now available for pre-order.  I know I just told you yesterday, but now I have this snazzy image that evokes the song from which the collection gets its title story. Remember to use code 25dob2017 to get 25% off!


Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee!

I’m honored to be a guest at Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee this year. Thanks to the Jordans and everyone involved. I was planning on attending anyway–I’ve heard so much about this great convention/party–but this makes it extra sweet. I’ll be on a panel moderated by Shaun Harris, author of The Hemingway Thief, which is a great fun read whether you love or hate Ernest, so check it out.

The Malmons will be there as will by publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, with copies of Killing Malmon, where 30 writers (including myself) killed Dan in amusing ways, to raise money for the MS society. If you can’t make it for a signed copy, get yours here.

Of course I’ll have Bad Boy Boogie and I’ll be writing Born on the Bayou, so if you want to influence a scene that I’ll write hungover on Saturday or Sunday morning, or late in my motel Friday night, now is the time. I can’t incorporate the Bronze Fonz, as it is all set in Louisiana, but I may have Jay meet the statue of Ignatius Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces… I’m 17,500 words in and having a blast. Which I hope means you will too, when you get to read it next year.

There will be a lot of beer. I’m going to the Lakefront Brewery to see the Schlitz bottling line filmed in the opening credits of Laverne & Shirley and I will only answer to the name The Big Ragu during this trip. I do not care if Milwaukee is “trying to shed the L&S image” as I read on one website… embrace it. You are so much more, I am sure, and I will see that, but come on. Hassenpfeffer Incorporated! Bah. It’s like Jersey trying to shed The Sopranos. It’s not like Laverne and Shirl were the cast of Jersey Shore.

And I’m jealous that your city has such a great song named after it. Written in 1903 by Dan Quinn before Jerry Lee Lewis made it (more) famous… I like this version:

What Made Milwaukee Famous Made a Loser Out of Me

And in case you missed it, I went as Bluto for Halloween. S.W. Lauden went as a California Highway Patrolman, mirror shades and all. If he brings his costume, we may walk around the con looking like half of The Village People.



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:


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.


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.”