Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense by Thomas Pluck

Thomas Pluck is one of my favourite short story authors. For me he pretty much sums up what I want to read in a Hardboiled Crime Noir story. All of his stories have nasty themes. What really sets him apart though is that when he talks about a nasty theme like child abuse he doesn’t spend most of the story writing about the deeds and then a quick bit at the end to make it seem alright, instead he spend more time talking about the survivors and how they live their lives. Somehow Pluck manages to do this without losing any of the aggressive writing that is so important in stories like these.

There are very few characters in these stories that you’d hold up as paragons of virtue but there are times where I could certainly empathize with the actions of the characters. A great example of this is in Black-Eyed Susan. I had read this story in another publication and it is one of my favourite short stories, not just in this collection but in general. I’m not going to spoil it for you but there is definitely a bit of mean street justice going on in this fantastic story.

The award for the best title goes to Kamikaze Death Burgers at the Ghost Town Cafe. I’d bet money that man vs food had been on not long before that title was born. This story is a bit longer than the rest and that allows a lot more character development than the rest of the stories. By the end of this story I had decided that I wanted to read more about Jay both before and after this story.

This is a hard-hitting and entertaining read from start to finish and it costs less than a pint so there is no excuse for not giving this book a try.


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