For my generation, our pulp fiction was the men’s action paperbacks of the ’70s and ’80s. Series like The Executioner, The Destroyer, or my favorite title, The Rat Bastards, were full of action, beautiful women, and the toughest of tough guys. The stories ranged from vigilantes, martial artsists, to World War II commandos. Thomas Pluck lovingly crams in as many of the tropes as he can in his epic update of the genre, Blade Of Dishonor.
Our hero is Rage Cage Reeves, a former MMA fighter returning from service in Afghanistan. He stays with his grandfather, Butch, a World War Two vet who lives above his army surplus store. After a bar fight where we see Rage Cage in action (and where he meets up with his old flame, Tara, a sexy and sarcastic ambulance driver), a Japanese businessman makes an offer for Butch’s store. When Butch refuses, an attempt is made on his life and the store is burnt to the ground.
Along with Tara, Reeves is on the run and out for revenge. It’s all tied to a war between samurai and ninjas over a sword Butch gave Reeves. We’re given flashbacks of Butch’s war years as a commando and how he got the blade, as Reeves’ journey of revenge takes him to the far east and the ultimate cage match.
This book is The Raiders Of The Lost Ark of pulp paperbacks. It has everything we love about those old pulp classics, fast pacing, tough beautiful women, macho guys, codes of honor, and a lot of action, all done with a high level of execution. Pluck gives us tons of gratuitous fight scenes, yet motivates it so well it never comes off as such. A martial artist himself, he delivers the blow by blow with a visceral feel. He also knows when to give a humorous aside, giving a nod to the reader. His love of the genre acts as a great undercurrent to the story.
Blade Of Dishonor is the most unpretentious book I’ve read in a long time. It simply wants to entertain and pulls out all the stops to do so. I hope Thomas Pluck realizes that many of these pulp books had a hundred to a series.
Copies of Blade of Dishonor are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.