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.

Where to give to Louisiana flood relief:

My family and friends in Louisiana have been hit hard by the flooding. We have bought supplies for shelters, and now we are giving to the Baton Rouge Area Flood Relief Foundation.

Below is my inlaws’ neighborhood during the worst of it. Thankfully they are safe, so many had worse. 40,000 homes are damaged and the estimate is 100,000 people have lost everything.

I’m not gonna ask you to buy a book or like my page or whatever. Share the info however you like. Don’t feel the need to share this post. Post a comment when you donate, if you want. Or don’t. Just help.

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Blood on the Bayou available for pre-order!

Blood on the Bayou, the Bouchercon 2016 anthology edited by Greg Herren and published by Down & Out Books is now available for pre-order!
My Jay Desmarteaux yarn “Gumbo Weather” appears with stories byDavid Morrell, Eric Beetner, Alison Gaylin, Bv Lawson, Dino Parenti,Gary Phillips and Terrie Moran among others.

Grab an early copy for your Kindle, Nook, or e-reader.
We’ll be signing the print copies at the con! You can also pre-order the paperback directly from Down & Out here.

There are two options: Pick up at Bouchercon (no shipping charge) and Ship to Buyer ($4.95 shipping charge).
The ebook versions of the book are already up and available for pre-orders on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo (at a special pre-order discounted price of $5.99)
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Blood on the Bayou

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I’m thrilled, twitterpated, and titillated to announce that my Jay Desmarteaux story “Gumbo Weather” will appear in the 2016 Bouchercon anthology edited by Greg Herren, Blood on the Bayou.

Jay’s debut novel comes out next year from Down & Out Books, an action-packed crime thriller called Bad Boy Boogie. You can get a taste of Desmarteaux in this anthology, along with stories by David Morrell, Alison Gaylin, Terrie Moran, Gary Phillips, B.V. Lawson and Eric Beetner, among others. You can read the full press release here.

Signed copies of the book will be available at the convention, and you can get unsigned copies wherever books are sold. I’ll post an update when it’s available for pre-order.

True Detective, episode two: “Seeing Things.”

True Detective, episode two: “Seeing Things.”

I’m greatly enjoying the new HBO series True Detective, by Southern gothic / crime writer Nic Pizzolatto. Here’s my take on episode two, which airs tomorrow. I also picked up Nic’s short story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea, after the opening story, “Ghost Birds,” grabbed me. His novel Galveston sounds like a winner as well.

If you like iced coffee, try it Louisiana style.

I was never much of an iced coffee drinker before I visited Louisiana with my wife. She introduced me to Community Coffee, or CC’s, as they call the coffee shops down there. I’d compare them to Starbuck’s, but CC’s actually makes a good cup of coffee.

They’ve been around since 1919 and import green coffee beans from Brazil to roast locally. My favorite blend is their Between Roast, which is darker than medium but not a full dark roast. Their French or Dark roast works best for iced coffee. When they make it, it has a rich coffee flavor that holds up to the ice needed to keep you cool down there. I searched on how to make my own, and while ordering coffee from the Community website, I saw the Toddy cold brew system. Apparently I was not the only customer who wanted to make their own!

toddy cold brew

You need 9 cups of water and a pound of coffee to make a jar of concentrate. Good thing CC coffee is still a full pound! This steeps overnight in the cold brewer, then filters into the jar. Then you mix 1/3rd coffee concentrate, 1/3rd water, and 1/3rd milk to make the smoothest iced coffee you can imagine, with a strong coffee flavor. Use half and half to make it creamier. You can also heat the concentrate for hot coffee. The cold brewing removes the acids and will keep you from getting heartburn if coffee upsets your stomach. Of course, CC coffee tastes great made in a percolator or drip machine, and they also sell K cups and pods. In the winter we switch to hot coffee and make in a Bunn brewer that serves it piping hot. I prefer the Between Roast hot, and the Dark for iced.

Community Coffee also has a Military Match program. If you order four pounds of coffee for a friend or loved one on a base, they will match the order.

The Cold brew system costs around $35 and we’ve used ours for years. It will of course work with any brand of coffee you like, but I urge you to try CC’s. They ship, and have a coffee club where they discount a regular shipment for you.

Adios, Bonnie & Clyde…

Adios, Bonnie & Clyde…

I visited the ambush site of Bonnie & Clyde with a relative of Sheriff Henderson Jordan, who participated in the attack. The article is on Criminal Element today. I spoke with relatives who lived in Gibsland at the time, who remember the car and the bodies paraded through town. 

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