Our Lady of Vengeance: Thirteen Dishes Served Cold by Thomas Pluck (Goombah Gumbo Press, April 14, 2015) – Having been a fan of Thomas Pluck’s hardcore 1980’s style, martial arts action epic, Blade of Dishonor, I decided to take a quick look at his recently released short story collection, Our Lady of Vengeance. Pluck’s known for his mile-a-minute and brutal style, and this set of shorts continue to strengthen that reputation.
The 13 stories presented have all appeared in multiple tried and true hard-boiled print and web journals like Shotgun Honey, Spinetingler Magazine, and Big Pulp. There’s a lot to like here and while the theme of revenge is central, we’re given quite a varied set of scenarios: wronged victims, misled heroes, and general scum of the earth among them.
I’d hazard a warning as well; these are hard-boiled stories. There’s brutality and some rough moments on display, but Pluck has a habit of taking dark situations and working the heart of the matter. Powerful moments remain powerful, not gratuitous or exploited for a cheap thrill. It’s tough to find a balance when broaching topics that can potentially need a trigger-warning and Pluck does a very solid job of it – kudos to that.
For me, the stand out stories include: “Two to Tango”, a jet-black tale of a victim taking full control, Shogun Honey, a quick and effective bit of Samurai noir, and “Lefty“, a fishing story that goes a little pear-shaped. There’s a lot to enjoy in all three, and to see what Pluck accomplishes in such a short space (“Shogun Honey” being less than a thousand words) is very impressive. The rest of the stories work well and accomplish what they out to do – provide the ready with a fast, steady shot of hard-boiled fun.
That’s a key word when dealing with short fiction in this genre – fun. Sure, a story can be dark, but we can’t be serious all the time, especially in the world of crime fiction. Pluck understands that and it’s appreciated it. It doesn’t hurt that he’s not the type to waste his words. Each sentence has a weight and each word is there for a reason.
Overall, I recommend picking up Our Lady of Vengeance. It’s available from all the major e-book retailers and is a steal at it’s current price. While you’re at it, check out Pluck’s Blade of Dishonor as well – especially if you’re a fan of old-school 80’s martial arts flicks along the lines of Bloodsport or Missing in Action. I promise you’ll have a blast.
An E-Galley of Our Lady of Vengeance was provided by the author