Greetings from Asbury Park, this Sunday!

Greetings from Asbury Park! Well, not at this exact moment, but on Sunday 4/29, I will be reading at Noir at the Bar in Asbury Park at Capitoline’s. They have a lovely bar with a band called the Black Flamingos playing in between stories. Hosted by Jen Conley and Jay Butkowski, it’s a bit of a sausage fest but I promise I’ll be a hot Italian sazeech:
Me – with copies of Life During Wartime to sign sell and raffle
Scott Adlerberg – author of Jack Waters, a thrilling New Orleans to Caribbean adventure
Angel Luis Colon – author of the Blackie Jaguar and Fantine Park crime novellas
Lee Matthew Goldberg – author of The Mentor
Alex Segura – author of the Pete Fernandez Miami PI series
Dave White – author of the Jackson Donne Jersey PI novels
and Wallace Stroby, author of the Crissa Stone series, my favorite thief since Parker, and his latest thriller, Some Die Nameless.
details: Sunday April 29th from 6pm to 9pm at Capitoline’s 639 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park NJ


Montclair Authors Cocktail Reception and Don’t Quit the Day Job!

Thursday March 8th, I’ll be attending a Montclair Authors Meet & Greet cocktail reception sponsored by Sotheby’s and Watchung Booksellers. Come join us, it will be a good time.

From 7:00PM until 9:00PM, At 32 Valley Road Montclair, at Prominent Properties. Valerie Wilson Wesley is among those attending.
2018-03-02 13_44_36-Meet the Authors of Montclair Reception at Sotheby's _ watchung booksellers

Also, Victoria Watson asked me to write about writing with a full-time day job, as part of her series Don’t Quit the Day Job, and I obliged. You can read it here.


Blue collar crime in a white collar suburb: Interview in the Montclair Local

Gwen Orel of the Montclair Local interviewed me about my novel Bad Boy Boogie, which is set partly in Montclair, and the surrounding suburbs. As a teenager, I biked to Montclair for the used bookstore and the punk shop, and I always wanted to live here (and now I do). I grew up two towns over in Nutley, whence Martha Stewart sprang like a decorating demon in a cloud of brimstone and potpourri, that town Futurama loves to tease. We had one bookstore that closed and the town shut down our video arcade because kids from out of town (hint: not white) came to play.

They also announce my reading on April 27th at Watchung Booksellers, with Alex Segura (the Miami-set Pete Fernandez P.I. novels) and Dave White (the Jersey-centric Jackson Donne thrillers). It will be a great time, come and join us.

You can read the full interview here at The Montclair Local. My Jersey really came out in this one. It sounds like Joe Pesci giving a line reading.

tom montclair local


Bad Boy Boogie uncovered!


Ain’t she a beauty? Designed by James Ray Tuck Jr., a fine author in his own right. Working with Eric and Lance at Down & Out Books has been a dream. The book will be published in April. It will be available for pre-order soon, and I will share the links once they are live.

So you can’t read it yet, but here’s what people who have read it have to say:

“Thomas Pluck has with this novel launched himself into the rare category of … must-read novels … must re-read … must tell all and sundry about. It is that fine, that compelling. Made me relive all that a wonder novel yields. Just tremendous.”
Ken Bruen, author of the Shamus and Macavity Award-winning Jack Taylor mysteries

“Thomas Pluck’s BAD BOY BOOGIE is a vivid dose of New Jersey noir with heart, soul and muscle.”
– Wallace Stroby, author of the Crissa Stone series

“Thomas Pluck is a crime writer to watch. Steeped in the genre’s grand tradition but with heart and bravado all his own, his writing is lean, smart and irresistibly compelling.”
Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me and Queenpin

“Jay Desmarteaux is a worthy addition to the list of crime fiction protagonists.  He’s Louisiana heart mixed with pure New Jersey grit.  Thomas Pluck’s prose is taut, muscular, and pulls the reader through the book’s violent bursts at a light speed clip.  Look out for this one.”
– Dave White, Shamus Award Nominated writer of the Jackson Donne series

“My first Thomas Pluck novel won’t be my last. Bad Boy Boogie is a superb, taut, little thriller that hits all the right notes and sustains its central conceits to the very last page.”
– Adrian McKinty, author of the Sean Duffy crime novels

“Beautiful Bad-assery. Full of lyrical longing for a youth unfulfilled and the brutal truth of an adulthood gone dangerously wrong. Brilliant. Thomas Pluck may well be the bastard love child of James Lee Burke and Richard Stark.”
– Josh Stallings, author of Anthony and Lefty Award nominated Young Americans, and the Mo McGuire series

And here’s a little taste:

When Jay Desmarteaux walked out the gates of Rahway Prison, the sun hit his face like air on a fresh wound. The breeze smelled different, felt charged, electric. He had spent twenty-five years as a monk locked inside a dank Shaolin temple dedicated to violence and human predation while the men who put him there lived free from fear.

Men who needed killing.

I’ll be touring, so if you want to hear me read, grab a beer, arm wrassle, or set my beard aflame, check out my Events page.


The Simpsons and The Tube Bar Tapes

The day after Thanksgiving, FX channel puts on a 13-day marathon of “The Simpsons,” the animated satire that is set to become America’s longest-running television series, defeating “Gunsmoke”‘s 25 year run, unless it is cancelled. Confession, I haven’t watched it regularly in well over a decade; I watched the John Waters episode, and a few scattered here and there, but the last one I remember watching was the “soul mate” episode with Johnny Cash, where Homer eats the Guatemalan Insanity peppers and hallucinates. I’m not sure what changed, but I just lost interest, the show seemed less subversive. They had won. The show had broken a lot of barriers and was accused of making us more crass and vulgar when often, it was one of the more realistic portrayals of family life on the boob tube.


Bart got his start on the Tracey Ullman Show, and took over the nation with his battle cry of “Cowabunga,” “I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?” and of course, “Eat My Shorts.” It all seems so silly now, but it was a breakthrough at the time. One of Bart’s favorite pastimes was prank calling the bartender at his father’s gin mill, Moe’s, and tormenting its owner, Moe Szyslak. “I’d like to speak to Al.” “Al who?” “Al Coholic.”

Well, that gag had its origin in New Jersey. Matt Groening was a fan of “The Tube Bar Tapes,” a series of prank calls made to The Tube Bar in Jersey City, a dive in Journal Square run by a retired heavyweight boxer named Louis “Red” Deutsch. Red had a voice like Tom Waits in a cement mixer, and whether punchy or rummy, he fell for some of the oldest prank calls in the book. And when he realized he was being pranked, his colorful rejoinders, ranging from profanity to poetics such as “I’ll cut open yer belly and show ya the black stuff inside” made for entertainment in the early ’80s, when “the Red tapes” made the rounds among sports journalists and then the larger world. Once they hit the Internet in the early ’90s they became known as The Bum Bar Bastards, and went on to inspire The Jerky Boys, who were more of a performance comedy team. (The Jerky Boys Movie is more entertaining than it has any right to be, maybe due to cameos from Tom Jones singing Lenny Kravitz, and Alan Arkin playing a cranky mobster.)

Red Deutsch with Rocky Marciano. Photo credit Jon Rowe

We listened to the Red Tapes in high school, when parody songs only heard on Dr. Demento were passed around on mix tapes and treasured for those long cruising drives around at night when you had nothing to do. My friends and I wanted to visit The Tube Bar, but Old Red died in 1986, before we could legally enter. Here’s a picture of the Tube Bar:


If you want to listen to the infamous “Red Tapes,” they are now on YouTube. Be warned, Red and the pranksters are pretty foul-mouthed fellows.

A Hot Night in Hub City

hub city poster chuck regan

My next reading will be on Saturday, August 29th at Noir at the Bar New Jersey, at Tumulty’s pub in New Brunswick. Hosted by Jen Conley and Mark Krajnak, look at that great lineup (and poster, by Chuck Regan). Come join us. I’ll be hitting Destination Dogs before the show,

The Cherry Blossoms of Branch Brook Park

branch brook cherry blossomsI drove through Branch Brook Park today on my morning commute to see the cherry blossoms. I’ve written about them before, in “The Forest for the Trees” (collected in STEEL HEART) and in the Denny the Dent stories. They only bloom a few weeks a year. They were a gift from the Bamberger family, and Newark/Belleville’s park has the largest stand of them in America; over 4300. Washington, D.C. has 3020, a gift from Japan in 1912.

Branch Brook was designed by Frederick Olmstead, who designed Central Park, and hundreds more. It’s nice for a walk or drive, and Nanina’s restaurant is one of the best Italian eateries in the state. If you can get in; it’s often booked years in advance for weddings. More my speed is Luis’s Red Hots, a hot dog truck at the Belleville end, on Union Ave. They make a great potato dog- thin sliced white potatoes with paprika and spices on a snappy frankfurter. At the other end by Heller Parkway is another famous hot dog truck, John’s, who make fine chili cheese dogs.

You’ve got a week before the petals drop. Best bet is to visit on a weekday, the weekends are packed, but it’s a beautiful place to visit this time of year.