Ms. Tree Comes out of the (Skeleton) Closet

October 20th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins
Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet
Paperback:
E-Book:

I have not seen a copy yet, but this update will appear on publication day of Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

It reprints in color the rest of the DC comics run from the early ‘90s, and is essentially a casebook – five graphic novellas often dealing with controversial subject matter (gay bashing, date rape, etc.) that unfortunately hasn’t dated at all. There’s also a flat-out horror tale that reveals the roots of the Collins/Beatty team in EC Comics.

I am thrilled that Titan is publishing these books, finally getting all the work Terry and I – influential work, I will immodestly say – in a more permanent form.

This is some of our best work. Volume Three will start at the beginning and the subsequent volumes will continue in the order of original publication.

* * *

For the first time, every person who entered one of my book giveaways – this one for Too Many Tomcats and the Eliot Ness novels – got a book. While that pleases me, it makes me wonder if I’m having too many of these and wearing you people down…particularly those of you who’ve entered and never been rewarded with a book.

The problem is that Wolfpack has been generous enough to put a whole passel of my books out over a short period of time, including Murderlized, a new one. So I don’t mean to swamp you, although it’s important to get reviews for these books out there, including the reprints. Which is the point of the giveaways – to prime the review pump. Well, Amazon Prime the review pump.

The Wolfpack e-book versions have been made available a bit before the trade paperback editions, at times; but I have received copies of most of the books by now and they are beauties. And I am very favorably impressed with the level of the Wolfpack covers. Murderlized is wonderful. So is Too Many Tomcats. And Mommy (while somewhat re-fried as Mommy’s Day) blows me away.

We have new editions coming of Regeneration and Bombshell, the two stand-alone collaborations by Barb and me, and I’m stoked to see what kind of covers Wolfpack whips up with for those.

But the most important Wolfpack release will come in December – Come Spy With Me, the first in the new series by Matthew Clemens and me. It’s set in the early ‘60s and is an unabashed homage to Ian Fleming and the Connery-era Bond films, and the whole spy craze of my youth. Matt and I are going over the galley proofs now, and we have seen the cover, which I hope to share with you soon – it’s a beauty.

I’ve made a huge investment of time and property (in the sense that my backlist titles and short story collections are properties) in Wolfpack. If those of you who enjoy my fiction in general support those efforts, Wolfpack is the rare company that will let me do what I want creatively. A series that other publishers consider “busted” I can write a new entry for. There could be a new Mallory or Disaster Novel or Jack & Maggie Starr. We are seriously considering doing Reeder & Rogers at Wolfpack and Krista Larson, too. If we have some success, Spillane material will appear there.

Consider Quarry. Quarry as a crime novel series had been dead commercially for decades. But editor Charles Ardai, the guru of Hard Case Crime, encouraged me to write a new Quarry novel many years later. No other publisher would have done that. And it has led to many new Quarry novels, an award-winning short film, a feature film, and a Cinemax TV series.

Not long ago Charles encouraged me to write a new Nolan novel. Nolan also has been “dead” for decades, but Charles liked the series and wanted a new one. Now we are looking seriously at Nolan for a TV series on a streaming service (early days, of course, and these things often tank, but…we’re talking about a series I started in 1973). And Hard Case is bringing all of the Nolan novels out again (two to a book). There will also be audios of them read by the great Stefan Rudnicki.

The new Nolan, Skim Deep, will be out the first week of December.

The support you continue to show the work that I produce, my own and the collaborations, means a great deal.

Thank you.

* * *

Here’s a very interesting look at Quarry, the novel of that title, expressing some interesting insights, as well as some thoughts on the Cinemax series.

This is one of several previews of the second Ms. Tree collection, Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

Scroll down at this entry at the entertaining Atomic Junkshop and see a brief but very strong review of Murderlized by Matt Clemens and me – and a great look at the wonderful cover provided by Wolfpack.

This article presents the Nathan Heller novels in order of publication (includes the short story collection and the novella collection) with nice thumbnails on each. Whether this is the best order to read them in, I can’t say. But I did write them in that order, so it makes sense in terms of following my growth (or decline!) over the years.

M.A.C.

Wolfpack Giveaway #2 – Untouchable Cats

October 13th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins

I am in the middle of the third of the three novellas I’m doing about a brand-new character (stay tuned) for Neo-Text. So I will try to distract you for the lack of a real blog entry this week with the second Wolfpack book giveaway.

Too Many Tomcats Wolfpack Edition

I have four trade-paperback copies of Too Many Tomcats, my wife Barb’s terrific collection of tales about evil, dead and stuffed felines. I co-authored a couple and wrote the intro. If you are a hold-out among my readers who has avoided reading Barb’s work and/or our collaborative work, now is your chance to finally get wise.

Barb’s short stories are in the vein of the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show and Roald Dahl, and she’s been compared to both (and not just by me!).

In addition, I have two copies each of the four Eliot Ness trade paperbacks – The Dark City, Butcher’s Dozen, Bullet Proof, and Murder by the Numbers.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! — Nate]

This is for USA only – mailing overseas and even to just Canada was expensive before the Pandemic.

Here’s the important part – this isn’t really about free books. It’s about getting reviews on Amazon and/or at your own review site, if you have one. Most of you participating in these book giveaways have been good about doing those reviews. But please hold up your end of the bargain.

Eliot Ness Saga, Wolfpack Edition
* * *

Here is a video interview wherein my pal Andrew Sumner talks to me about Ms. Tree, and specifically about the soon-to-be-published second Ms. Tree collection, Skeleton in the Closet.

And here is the appearance (via Zoom) by my co-author A. Brad Schwartz and I at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas in support of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher. Includes a power point presentation! Excited?

Finally, here is a nice look at Road to Perdition as Tom Hanks’ most under-rated movie.

M.A.C.

Wolfs and Cats, Living Together, Sunday Fun, and a 5-Day Script

October 6th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins
Too Many Tomcats, Wolfpack Cover
Ebook: Amazon Purchase Link

All of the copies in last week’s book giveaway of Murderlized and Murder – His and Hers have been shipped. I unexpectedly received more copies of Murderlized that allowed me to send ten copies out, not just five.

Now we have another Wolfpack release, thus far only available on Kindle, but a physical book will be along soon. It’s Barb’s Too Many Tomcats, an anthology of her stories for the various Cat Crimes collections; I wrote the intro and co-wrote a couple of stories.

Do not be dissuaded by the title and subject – these are dark tales, very much in the Roald Dahl/Alfred Hitchcock Presents vein. While Barb does not (exactly) dislike cats, she is fact allergic to them. The cats in these stories, among other things, tend to be evil, murder victims, and/or dead. It’s a wonderful collection, reflecting many of the tales having been chosen for the Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories anthologies edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, two great men both sadly gone.

* * *

I am pleased to announce that the project that SCTV’s Dave Thomas and I are in the process of writing has found a home.

Much more about that later.

* * *

For those of you not sick to death of me (which does not include my wife) (or myself for that matter), I did a ZOOM interview with S-F/Fantasy & Mystery author Russ Colchamiro. Russ is a fine, fun interviewer and we talked about things that haven’t made it into my zillion other interviews.

Russ is one of the Crazy 8 Press group of genre writers, which includes (among other excellent scribes) my old pals Peter David, Glenn Hauman, Robert Greenberger and Paul Kupperberg.

Check out the talk between Russ and me right here:

* * *

Although this update/blog appears on Tuesday morning, I often write them the Sunday night before. That’s the case this week.

You may recall I’ve written about a handful of very carefully orchestrated outings that Barb and I have undertaken (an unfortunate word in a pandemic), getting carry out meals to eat in the car or at a park, and slipping into a bookstore or some other retails outlet at an off-time when few if any other customers can be spied. And, of course, only stores where you have to wear a mask to enter, even if you aren’t robbing the joint.

Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but the three times we’ve gone out on such outings have been lovely – it felt like the old days, way-way-way back in February of this year, when only our president and Bob Woodward knew the truth about Covad-19.

We had our day planned – another Quad Cities trip. We would again go Portillo’s, a wonderful drive-in restaurant, and then Barb would slip into the Van Maur department store at North Park Mall in Davenport while I would do the same at the Barnes & Noble, for perhaps half an hour. We timed it to arrive at Portillo’s around 10:45 a.m. and the mall at 11:30 (when it opened). We planned it with a precision that Nolan and Jon (if you’re reading this you really should know who that is) would envy.

Then we got up this morning and read the Quad City Times Sunday edition. It told of the 500 cases of Covid logged in the QC’s this week, mostly Iowa side of the river. It also mentioned that Iowa is number four among Covid hot spots in the nation.

And we stayed home.

And you know what? It wasn’t bad. We spent some time together in the morning (none of your business), I got us breakfast at Hardee’s (Mickey Spillane ate their biscuits every day), prepared the living room for carpet cleaning early this coming week (I will be upstairs and the cleaners will be downstairs) (in masks), and I finished up cleaning my office to prepare for beginning a new project tomorrow. Barb and I spent the evening watching three episodes of the British crime show New Tricks, which we have been bingeing. We ate hot dogs that were damn near Portillo’s-worthy.

Of course we also had to watch the president of the United States take a motorcade to nowhere to wave at his fans. Your tax dollars at work.

No, I’m not going to get political, because I have too many friends and business associates who are not just Republicans but support the president. Their privilege, and I don’t want to alienate any of my readers, either.

But just between us, the inside of my head is exploding, twenty-four hours a day.

* * *

I had a wild week, reminiscent of my pre-heart surgery younger days. With another deadline looming, I nonetheless agreed to write a first-draft screenplay for a movie based on “A Bullet for Satisfaction,” a non-Mike Hammer crime novella written by Mickey Spillane and yours truly. (It appeared as a sort of short subject before the main attraction in The Last Stand, the 100th anniversary Spillane novel.)

Basically I had to turn out twenty pages of finished script a day (“first draft” merely means the first version of a script, not something loose or sloppy or haphazard). The novella is a gloriously crazed collection of noir tropes, which attracted an established, Hard Case Crime-loving indie filmmaker to the material. My job was to assemble a bunch of short, fun, off-the-wall scenes into a more coherent whole, combining them, and making them play believably, mining a plot out of the mineral content, without losing what attracted the filmmaker in the first place.

I had a wonderful time. I just loved doing it.

Will it go anywhere? You never know. We have not signed a deal yet, but I had a window in which to work, so I grabbed it – if the project falls through, I’ll wind up with a screenplay, so no harm, no foul. If it goes forward, I am not carrying the ball – I am not the director, who will be doing a second draft from my first. Doesn’t bother me – he’s the director, and it’s his movie. Having talked to him at length, I liked what I heard, and we seem to be on the same page.

But this is the movies, and you never know. My version of The Last Lullaby – my script was faithfully novelized by me into The Last Quarry – was used by a young director to raise the money. I was the Road to Perdition guy, remember? Then a producer came aboard with his own writer and my screenplay was rewritten by someone I’ve never met. After that, I was able to do a polish, but I still wish my initial version had been shot.

On the other hand, despite certain problems with it, The Last Lullaby is still a damn good crime movie and probably a more accurate rendition of Quarry than the Cinemax series (though technically the main character is not Quarry – he’s “Price,” a name I think was appropriate).

Anyway, it’s the movies. I love the damn things, and I love my excursions into screenwriting.

But there’s a reason why you write novels.

They are yours.

* * *

A reminder that this coming Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, A. Brad Schwartz and I will be appearing via ZOOM at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas to talk about Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher. You don’t have to go to Vegas to participate, either.

And here’s a great review of the paperback edition of The Big Bang, only the second of the Spillane/Collins collaborative Mike Hammer novels.

M.A.C.

A Wolfpack Book Giveaway and an Adventure in the Wild

September 29th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins
Murderlized Cover
Murder: His and Hers Cover

NEWS FLASH! All through October, almost every day, one or another of my novels will be part of the Kindle 99-cent Daily Deal, starting with The War of the Worlds Murder. Throughout this sale, both Girl Most Likely and Girl Can’t Help It will get the one-day, 99-cent treatment, as will all the “Disaster” mystery titles and all three Reeder and Rogers titles, including the very appropriate-at-the-moment Supreme Justice. Check every day!

* * *

This week marks the first of several Wolfpack trade paperback giveaways. First up, two short story collections: Murderlized and Murder – His and Hers.

Murderlized collects most of my short story collaborations with Matthew V. Clemens, co-author of the forthcoming Wolfpack release, Come Spy With Me. Matt and I also co-wrote CSI: Crime Scene Investigations, Dark Angel, and Criminal Minds novels, as well as the Reeder & Rogers trilogy (beginning with Supreme Justice), the standalone thriller What Doesn’t Kill Her, and the two J.C. Harrow novels (starting with You Can’t Stop Me). The title story of Murderlized features Moe Howard of the Three Stooges as an amateur sleuth.

Murder – His and Hers, originally published by FiveStar – collects stories co-written by Barb and me as well as a few of our individual stories. Barb is the co-author of the “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” series (most recently Antiques Fire Sale) and is also the co-author of our son, Nathan Collins. Two standalone thrillers we wrote together, Regeneration and Bombshell, will be brought out in new editions by Wolfpack soon.

[All copies claimed. Thank you! — Nate]

* * *

This past week I shot the Noir Alley segments with host Eddie Muller that will wraparound the show’s presentations of two of my favorite noir films, Kiss Me Deadly and Born to Kill. Both host and guest were in their respective home offices, joined by a Zoom-like link and with top flight folks at TCM handling the remote logistics and tech.

Actually, on my end, my son Nate was handling the tech, and he was here throughout the several hours it took to prep and shoot the two shows (well, the wraparounds for two shows). I would have been lost without him, as a bunch of new equipment was sent by TCM to bring us up to broadcast standards.

If that sounds like an ordeal, it wasn’t, except maybe for Nate and the TCM folks, because Eddie and I had a blast. We were talking about two movies we both love and, more broadly, the crime/suspense genre that we both love. I believe the segments, when aired, will run something like ten minutes per episode, and we went easily twice as long and could have talked all afternoon. We were like two old pals in a bar catching up and comparing notes and having a hell of a good time, drunk on each other’s enthusiasm.

Eddie is a sweetheart and beyond knowledgeable. He has done more to popularize and explain film noir than anyone on the planet, and his efforts to mount film festivals and work for preservation of this sacred/profane style of cinema are second to none. His book on Gun Crazy, which is in my top five films of any genre, is the best book I’ve ever read about a single film. It’s available here.

I am, no flying shit, honored to be on Noir Alley, and talking about Kiss Me Deadly – a movie who nobody but the French gave a damn about when I first discovered it, around 1961 (in junior high!) – feels like a privilege and a vindication.

It airs on TCM on Nov. 21. Write that down, but I will almost certainly remind you.

* * *

Today (Sunday, Sept. 27 as I write this) Barb and I emerged from our modified sheltering-in-place to undertake an outing. The preparation rivaled D-Day and the execution was only slightly less harrowing. And that’s coming from the author of Saving Private Ryan.

Iowa is a place where a good number of the half of this state who support Donald Trump have decided to express their admiration by not wearing masks, pooh-poohing social distancing, and insisting that the death of over 200,000 Americans is a hoax perpetrated by those pesky libtards.

So stepping out into this shit storm takes a good deal of fortitude laced with foolhardiness.

One of our favorite little jaunts is to drive the hour and fifteen minutes from Muscatine to Amana, one of the several Amana Colonies. Two restaurants there, serving German-American food (what’s good enough for the Bund is good enough for us!), are among our favorite dining experiences, although their family-style service isn’t, well, perfect for a pandemic.

But workable for carry out, perhaps? We set out in rain summoned by God to dissuade us. He should know by now that we will not be intimidated when it comes to matters of self-indulgence.

We ordered by phone, when we were fifteen minutes out, and the Ronneburg Restaurant (our other fave is the Ox Yolk Inn) was terrific in putting together carry-out cartons for us. The cashier and wait staff were properly masked (traitors!) even if their patrons mostly weren’t, and appeared to be conducting business in a thoughtfully careful way.

We ate our food in the car, like refugees with a Cadillac SUV. I had forgotten the sensation of being so deliriously stuffed to the gills. Caution thrown thoroughly to the winds, we set out for…wait for it…the outlet center at nearby Williamsburg, where for nearly half an hour we took our lives in our hands by shopping at Coach (Barb) and Book Warehouse (me).

In all seriousness (really) (no kidding), we were impressed by the measures the Williamsburg outlet took – masks were required by patrons and employees alike. I can’t speak for Barb at Coach, but Book Warehouse was definitely helped by the size of the place, with its generous aisles, and of course the lack of interest expressed by Americans of all political parties when it comes to reading books. Where would we be without that?

Best not think that one through.

Now, back in Muscatine in this haven of Blu-rays, reading material, and hoarded food products, Barb and I have returned to sheltering in place, warm and well-fed and terrified that we caught something out there.

Can’t wait for the holidays.

* * *

Footnote to the above: on our adventure, we finished listening to Quarry’s Ex as read by Stefan Rudnicki for Skyboat Audio.

Man, does he do a great job with Quarry. He so gets it. At first it may seem like his warm deep baritone is too old for Quarry, whose boyish charm makes the terrible things he does and thinks go down so smoothly. But Stefan really, really understands the character and conveys the humor that the otherwise excellent Cinemax series completely missed.

And, anyway, these are the memoirs of Quarry, written mostly when he was an older man (as old as me, say), which is the way I view the Heller novels, too.

Stefan has also taken over on Mike Hammer for Stacy Keach, with Masquerade for Murder the latest. Haven’t listened to that one yet, as we do our listening in the car and, as this update indicates, we aren’t driving anywhere much. It took two Quad Cities outings and this Amana trip to get through the four CDs of Quarry’s Ex.

Listening to a Quarry novel, when I hadn’t been working on one for a while, brought something home to me – I can see why someone who likes the Quarry books might be confused by Girl Most Likely and Girl Can’t Help It.

A writer – like an painter, actor or a musician – has a right, perhaps even an obligation, not to just do the same thing over and over. I am able to stay fresh with Quarry and Nate Heller and Mike Hammer by painting in other colors, speaking in different voices, and performing in different keys, with the likes of the Antiques series, Caleb York westerns, and the Krista and Keith Larson novels. Same is true of the Reeder and Rogers political thrillers I do with Matt.

It’s likely Quarry and Heller and Mike Hammer fans will be comfortable with John Sand, hero of Come Spy With Me, but I can’t guarantee that. I will say only, to readers who only like one thing or another that I do, I have to write more than just a couple of things or I’ll get bored.

In which case, so will you.

* * *

I’m doing a Zoom interview with Russ Colchamiro this Wednesday (September 30) at 8 pm ET.

And here’s a short but sweet look at Hard Case Crime.

M.A.C.

aug 19, 2003 visitors since August 19, 2003.