Arts & Entertainment

Author Thomas Pluck talks Crime, Essex County, Goombah Gumbo and his Latest Book 'Bad Boy Boogie'


NUTLEY, NJ - How does a kid who grew up in the E. Centre St. industrial area of Nutley NJ grow up to be a crime fiction writer? TAPinto interviewed Nutley native and author Thomas Pluck to learn his story.

Pluck’s childhood home is the setting of his latest work of ‘Private Investigator’ noir fiction.  At the beginning of his book,  we learn Pluck’s main character, Jay Desmarteaux, is out of prison, 25 years after killing a brutal rapist in high school, and he is trying to live a normal life.  

Pluck, who graduated from Nutley High School is 1989, pays homage to rock band AC/DC, in the book’s title, Bad Boy Boogie.  AC/DC’s song Bad Boy Boogie lyrics include: “On the day I was born the rain fell down / there was trouble brewing in my home town.”

Sign Up for E-News

TAPinto Nutley: Some of the ‘trouble brewing’ in your novel revolves around bullying (‘games of torment’) and rape. Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” contains graphic rape scenes. What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the program? (Nutley Public Schools Issues Statement on Netflix Series Series 13 Reasons Why)

Thomas Pluck: “I think it’s helping some and raising concerns for many. We don’t give teenagers enough credit for thinking. Sometimes it is better to talk about dark subjects than to ignore them.”

TAPinto Nutley: What are your thoughts on bullying?

Thomas Puck: “The book deals with bullying and juvenile criminal justice reform. I support initiatives that focus on getting funding for child protective services in NJ. If you want to fight crime, we need to fully fund CPS in every state.”

TAPinto Nutley: When you conduct research for your crime novels, what are you finding about our current heroin crisis and its impact on crime statistics?

Thomas Puck: “The epidemic has always been in the state of NJ and it’s now hit the white suburban areas. Stop treating it as a crime and start treating as health issue. Get to the root it. Millions of people who need to feed an addiction are leading to higher crime. Save prison cells for violent people.”

TAPinto Nutley: Both New Jersey and Louisiana are easy targets in conversations about state corruption. Your protagonist, Jay, was born in the bayous of Louisiana. The book description on your publishers website reads: ‘With an iron-fisted police chief on his tail and a ruthless mob captain at his throat, he’ll need his wits, his fists, and his father’s trusty Vietnam war hatchet to hack his way through a toxic jungle of New Jersey corruption that makes the gator-filled swamps of home feel like the shallow end of the kiddie pool.’ 

Thomas Pluck: “You can’t talk about New Jersey or Louisiana without corruption surfacing – Louisiana had Governor Huey Long and New Jersey had Frank Hague. Hague built a hospital named after his mom, paid for by the bribery of everyone who had to pay to work in Jersey City at the time.  The current Essex County sheriff is the only one I can remember not being arrested by the FBI in my lifetime. “

 TAPinto Nutley: What was the # 1 Song the year you graduated from Nutley High School?

Thomas Pluck: I graduated in 1989. I’m unsure about #1 but I’m remembering ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ by Guns N ‘Roses! Music was a big part of growing up for me. My uncle had a box of 45s with songs by Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino etc. Carole King’s 1971 pop hit ‘I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet’ is one of my favorites.”

 TAPinto Nutley: ‘If someone were to unearth a time capsule you buried in your back yard in Nutley when you were thirteen, what would it contain?

Thomas Pluck: “Atari cartridges (Pluck and his childhood friends ‘did some programming’), Agatha Christie books (‘Ms Marple’ was his into to detective writing), some Star Wars and KISS action figures (‘I wish I still had them.’)

TAPinto Nutley: You have a degree in English from Rutgers and work in the technology sector in addition to writing novels. What advice do you have for Nutley High Students? Should they focus on English or Engineering? 

Thomas Pluck: “Stick with what your heart is in. After obtaining my English degree, the media/journalism job market plummeted. That’s how I got into tech. What is happening in journalism now is that Investigative reporters are the PIs of today. They are the people who dig into the dirt and get the truth out. If English is what you love, learn it. It’s never failed me in writing engineering reports in my other job. We are going to need more reporters in upcoming years. Engineers are coming from all over the world and can’t write about your hometown the way someone from there can. While I considered writing my book about a fictional town, I chose to have it take place in Nutley, where the stories that take place in ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ were part of my childhood. All the happenings are in real places in Nutley like Ralph’s Pizzeria and Kingsland Park.”

TAPinto Nutley: Your company is named Goombah Gumbo Press, a tribute to your love for the cultures of both New Jersey and Louisiana. Orechio Publications was ‘The Media’ in Nutley until it was purchased in 1998 by North Jersey Media Group. As part of your high school and college interest in publishing, did you ever work with the local media?

Thomas Pluck: I’ll share an antidote told to me by my grandmother who was raised in Nutley on E Centre Street in the industrial area. I grew up in the same house with my Mom and grandmother. I played on that street at night with my friends and my grandmother was concerned for our safety. She went to see Mr. Orechio and told him, ‘my grandchildren are in danger because you won’t fix the lights.’ According to my grandmother his reply was: ‘If you don’t like it, move.’ If there are any parts of the book where I seem like I’m hitting the town when it’s down, it’s because of people like him. There are many parts of the book where I also talk about the great parts of growing up in Nutley. You’ll have to read the book for those stories.”


Pluck’s “Bad Boy Boogie” is recommended by several top crime writers including Wallace Stroby, Megan Abbott and Adrian McKinty and is available at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair NJ. It was published by Down and Out Books:  

EXCERPT: “Bad Boy Boogie” by Thomas Pluck

The streets were torn up with construction. Andre used to joke that New Jersey only had two seasons: winter and road work. Nutley’s main drag was sliced stem to stern in the heart of town as utility trucks performed surgery on the main intersection. Memories teased the back of Jay’s mind as he cruised through town. The street where Matt got his dreaded nickname. The junk lot where Joey Bello’s picador games of torment began. The park where it had all ended in 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


TAPinto Bloomfield's Kevin Knight among Nutley Jaycee's Distinguished Service Honorees

March 19, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Jaycees wil hold the 47th annual Distinguished Service Awards Wednesday evening, April 12 at the Valley Regency in Clifton.

This year's awardees are:

Outstanding Young Man

Michael J. Nevin

Civic Affairs

Janet Canonico


Robyn Powell


Kevin Knight

Public Health and  Safety

Thomas Nicolette

The ...

Happy St. Patrick's Day from is a network of more than 70 franchised online local newspapers in New Jersey and New York with more than 7M readers during the last year. We provide original local news reporting 24/7 for the communities we serve, as well as a full-service events calendar, real estate listings, business directory, classifieds, and much, much more. Readers can receive FREE enews at ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Cedar Grove High School, Cedar Grove

Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament ...

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Other Sports

Fri, March 23, 6:30 PM

Parks and Recreation Department , Nutley

Nutley Crew Beefsteak/Tricky Tray

Food & Drink Sports


Fri, March 23, 7:00 PM

West Orange High School , West Orange

WOHS Band Council Presents: A Concert for the ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Health & Wellness


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Military Park, Newark

#NeverAgain March For Our Lives

Government Health & Wellness


Sat, March 24, 7:30 PM

Livingston High School, Livingston

Livingston Symphony Orchestra: "Water. water.

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, March 26, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Bloomfield Police Blotter February 19 - 25, 2018

March 2, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The following police blotter has been issued by Lt. Anthony Sisco of the Bloomfield Police Department.


2/19/18 – Officers dispatched to Modells (224 Bloomfield Ave) on a report of shoplifting. Complainant (Modells employee) observed an Unknown Black Male suspect place (2) “Nike” hooded sweatshirts and batting gloves (total value ...

Student-Led March for Our Lives to Take Place in Montclair, Mar. 24

March 19, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair and surrounding-area students are planning to participate in a movement called 'March for Our Lives' taking place on Saturday, March 24. Part of a nationwide movement to pass common-sense gun legislation in America, the students plan on gathering in several places across the state of New Jersey, including Montclair, Maplewood, Paterson, Union and ...

Man Dies from South Orange House Fire on Sunday

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - A man has died from a house fire on Warwick Avenue in South Orange on Sunday afternoon, stated Thomas Fennelly, Essex County Chief Assistant Prosecutor.

The fire, which began about 2 p.m. was contained by about 5 p.m., and required mutual aid from fire departments in neighboring towns, according to firefighters at the scene.

Floating Classroom Will Help Roxbury Kids Embrace 'Their' Lake Hopatcong

March 19, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ – There are plenty of kids living in Roxbury who’ve never been on Lake Hopatcong, says lake buff Marty Kane. He’s even confident many don’t realize their town borders the big lake.

That’s one of the reasons Kane, chairman of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board of Trustees, is bubbling with excitement about the upcoming launch of the ...

Technology ‘Hub’ proposed for Hub City’s downtown, covering 12 acres

NEW BRUNSWICK – State and city officials on Monday unveiled plans for a “hub” for research in the fields of technology and health care services to stretch over 12 acres.

Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking at a meeting at Rutgers University, said the "Innovation and Technology Hub,” which is in the planning stages, would include construction of 2 million to 4 million ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 18, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

#Enough Nutley High School Walkout: By Students, for Students

March 16, 2018

To the Editor:

Disgusted by federal inaction, devastated by the Parkland shooting, and determined to see real change, students around the country walked out of class at 10 a.m. on March 14th, one month after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students of Nutley High School also protested, in solidarity with students from over 3000 other schools ...

Parkland What...Parkland Where...Parkland Wow!

Thinking of the 17 angels that lost their lives lost one month ago. Thinking of the injured that are still fighting to heal. Thinking of the #MSDSTRONGstudents, teachers and staff that had their innocence taken from them. Thinking of a community that draws strength from each other as we all try to move forward after the tragic events of Feb 14.

Parkland what...... Parkland where.......

How Can Sports Therapy Loosen Up Winter Muscles?

Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned athlete, the winter weather can affect your body. In these cold conditions, muscles are forced to work harder to complete tasks. This extra effort can result in muscle soreness and damage to tissue. While you may not be able to avoid the cold, preventive measure can help avoid discomfort and injury. Learning and implementing sports therapy techniques, ...

Pro Staff Institute announces partnership with Uber Health

NUTLEY, NJ - Pro Staff Institute is proud to announce their participation in Uber Health, a new transportation program designed to provide transportation to patients. Pro Staff Institute is the first physical therapy center in the nation to leverage Uber Health, and joins over other 100 health care organizations in the U.S., including hospitals, clinics, rehab centers and senior care ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update February 19, 2018

Indoor track competed at the Group IV Championships and two athletes advanced to the Meet of Champions. Kaela Edwards broke her own school record in the 55-meter hurdles finishing second. La’Shan White finished an impressive 5th in the 400-meter run outrunning his number 10 seed.  

 Wrestling competed at the District 9 Championship. Two Bengals advanced to the Region ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update February 12, 2018

 Boys Basketball faced Barringer in a round of 16 match up in the ECT and won by a decisive score of 67-40. Junior Mike Ramos joined the 1000 point club for his career with a 29 point effort.

 Bowling added Essex County Championships for both the Boys and Girls to their already impressive resumes. The Boys County title is their first since the 2002-03 season while the Girls ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 20, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - The governor has targeted The Hub City as the new hub for innovation and technology. Gov. Phil Murphy was in town yesterday to meet with city, business and Rutgers officials to chat about how all the ongoing downtown investment will be a magnet for scientific and technological innovation, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The ...

Ten Ways to Be Productive on a Snow Day

March 7, 2018

Another Nor’Easter has smacked us in the face today.  After so many of us lost power for what seemed to be an eternity, it’s a good time to make up for lost productivity and work on the famous Stephen Covey Quadrant 2 Activities.  What are they you may ask?  Those are the activities that are Important, yet not urgent (well some of them can be).  In other ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Lilli DeJong by Janet Benton

Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton (Doubleday, 2017)


“It's said that every woman's painful labor is God's punishment. Eve ate an apple, and God pours wrath on every mother. So the Bible tells it.” (p.320)

The story of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, which is the Biblical explanation for the extreme pains of childbirth, casts women in the role of ...

Boy Scout of America’s Prepared For Life Dinner Features Captain Mark Kelly

March 21, 2018

The Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scout of America’s Fourth Annual Prepared for Life, Friends of Scouting Dinner will feature NASA space mission commander and American hero Captain Mark Kelly.

The event will be held on April 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Venetian in Garfield, 546 River Dr. The event starts with a reception hour at 6 p.m.

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center Presents:Ron Guidry Book Signing, Apr. 3

Ron Guidry, known as "Gator" and "Louisiana Lightning" to his teammates, quickly rose in 1977 to become the ace of the Yankees' stellar pitching staff, helping the team regarded as one of the most famous and controversial in Yankees history to win two World Series championships. 

Join us on Tuesday, April 3 for a signing of Guidry's new ...

4th Wall Announces Auditions for FUN HOME

4th Wall Theatre, a non-union NJ theatre company, will hold open auditions for all roles in the final production of its 2017-18 season, FUN HOME, with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, and based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. 4th Wall’s production will be directed by Kate Swan with music direction by Markus Grae-Hauck. The show will be presented at ...

Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc 50/50 Raffle

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc. (JLMN) has provided support and service to women and children in Bloomfield, The Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Montclair, Newark and Verona for more than 95 years.

Our trained, enthusiastic members are committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community ...


- Mar 14, 2018
Past Deputy Grand Marshall of St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Merchant Marine veteran James J.
Read more
- Feb 28, 2018
John Genitempo, The “Silver Fox”, of Nutley, passed away on Wednesday February 28, 2018 ...
Read more