A Fancy Look and the History of Heller

September 14th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

Here is a hot-off-the-presses look at the cover of the print edition of Fancy Anders Goes to War.

Fancy Anders Goes to War Print Cover

As I’ve mentioned here, three Fancy Anders short novels have been done for NeoText. The emphasis is on e-book, but I realize many of you (who are nice enough to follow these updates) much prefer actual books…the much-derided “physical media” of us Luddites.

Well, the physical version of Fancy Anders Goes to War should be very nice indeed. The interior illos by Fay Dalton will be in black-and-white (color in the e-book) and with luck one day we’ll have a collection of all three novellas that will be a larger format with color interior pics.

For now, this is the only print edition. And be advised it’s strictly available online – the e-book is Kindle only – and will not be seen in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

I am really proud of this project and hope you will support Fancy, Fay and me. Here’s where you can pre-order the Kindle edition.

Pre-ordering the print edition has not gone live yet, but I will let you know as soon as it does.

[NEWS FLASH: Pre-order of FANCY ANDERS GOES TO WAR now available: Amazon Purchase Link]

* * *

The main event this week is again an installment of my ongoing “A Life in Crime” series at NeoText’s site, this time dealing with the history and development of the Nathan Heller saga.

One of the great things about NeoText is their willingness – even enthusiasm – to support my work even when it’s for other publishers. I will be starting on – later this year – The Big Bundle, the first of at least two Nathan Heller novels for Hard Case Crime.

Right now I am working on the Spillane biography with Jim Traylor for Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press. It’s a big job but one Jim and I enjoy. I had to gather from several places in my house huge stacks of Spillane material to go through and, in many cases, take notes from. My collecting of articles and reviews and what-have-you pertaining to Mickey’s work goes back to my junior high days in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and earlier material that I picked up through collecting sources. It’s been like poking my ink-stained fingers through a brain filled with decades of memories.

My hope is that Jim and I will be able to present the story of Mickey’s life in the context of the important, much under-estimated contribution he made to the American mystery and world popular culture.

* * *

Here’s a podcast about Road to Perdition, film and (to a lesser degree) graphic novel.

M.A.C.

Hear This! John Sand and Quarry, Too

September 7th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

I am happy to announce an audio book of Come Spy With Me by Matthew V. Clemens and myself. Neither of us have listened to it yet, but both have sampled it and like what we hear.

We were actually given an opportunity by Jake Bray at Wolfpack to choose between two narration styles – basically, American or British. Being no fools, we chose the latter.

There’s a reasonable expectation that audios of Live Fast, Spy Hard and To Live and Spy in Berlin in our John Sand series will appear in the coming months.

Matt and I went out on something of a limb, writing three books one after another in a series that hadn’t proven its legs yet. That sound you hear is either that limb being sawed off behind us or all of you nice readers applauding and/or lining up to buy the books…or at least this groovy (it’s a book set in the ‘60s) audio book.

Come Spy With Me Audiobook Cover

Sample:

Purchase on Audible: Audible

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As has been the case with the previous two updates, this week the main event is an installment of my Life in Crime literary memoir at Neo-Text, who will be publishing both Fancy Anders Goes to Warand The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton in October.

This week I discuss the history of my Quarry series, right here. Profusely illustrated with book covers and also a photograph of the real Quarry.

* * *

Re-reading my essay on Quarry got me thinking (always dangerous).

Don Westlake always said that he became Richard Stark when got up on the wrong side of the bed (also said he became the comic Westlake when the sun was out and Stark when it rained). I know the feeling.

Quarry allowed me – still does, actually – to display my darkest feelings about humanity and specifically Americans. That’s a function of the first novel growing out of the Vietnam war and how it impacted me and my wife Barb and our friends. I was a college student dreading having to go to Vietnam. Ultimately I did not have to, but plenty of my friends did and it changed them. In some cases that change was death.

It gave me a misanthropic side. Like Westlake, I have a sunny side, too. But it sure has been raining a lot.

Now and then the clouds part and a terrific review like this one turns up, for the forthcoming new Quarry novel, Quarry’s Blood.

Quarry's Blood cover
Trade Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link Target Purchase Link
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Quarry’s Blood
Hard Case Crime, $12.95 trade paper

MWA Grand Master Collins’s fine, action-packed 16th Quarry novel (after 2019’s Killing Quarry) brings the series to a fitting close. In 1983, Quarry, a former hit man who now goes after hit men, returns to the seedy club on Mississippi’s Biloxi Strip where, 10 years earlier, he murdered the owners. Luann, his humorless former sweetheart who helped in the killings, has since taken over running the club. Quarry has been following a hit man whose target appears to be Luann. His subsequent execution of the gangster behind the hit, Alex Brunner, leads to unforeseen complications. While raiding Brunner’s safe, he comes across two computer disks containing evidence of bribery incriminating Dixie Mafia biggies, cops, and politicians—evidence of local corruption that could put dozens of people in jail. He leaves town. Not until 2021, when a bestselling true-crime author tracks down the 69-year-old Quarry in the Midwest, does he discover what became of Luann and the floppy disks. Intriguing backstories, crafty revelatory connections, tongue-in-cheek humor, and blistering present-day battles make this entry sizzle. Noir fans will be sorry to see the last of Quarry. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Nov.)

Is it the last of Quarry?

M.A.C.

The Book Giveaway Suspense Is Killing Me

August 31st, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

The time has come…for another book giveaway.

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

Suspense His and Hers giveaway copies

The book, which publisher Wolfpack describes (accurately) with a secondary title of “Tales of Love and Murder,” collects short stories written by Barb, by me, and both of us together. It’s about 300 pages and includes some of our best stories, including the recent “Amazing Grace” by me and “What’s Wrong with Harley Quinn?” by mostly Barb. The Edgar-nominated Ms. Tree short story, “Louise,” is included, and two Quarry short stories, “Guest Service” and “Quarry’s Luck.”

This is a new collection, a follow-up to Murder – His & Hers (also available from Wolfpack) – and is a plump 300 pages or so. The cover is terrific. I remain very impressed with the packaging that Wolfpack is coming up with.

The point of the exercise is for us to generate reviews in particular at Amazon (the e-book is exclusive to Kindle). We encourage you to support not just us – or us when we send you a free book – by any authors whose work you enjoy through online reviews. That can sound intimidating, but reviews can range from a line or two to lengthy looks. The point (from an author’s POV) is to build the “star” rating up for titles and get more readers to try your work.

That’s why I release you from your obligation, in a book giveaway, to do a review if you hate the book (although of course you still can if you choose).

* * *
Nolan cover collage from Neotext article.
Image taken from NeoText. See the article linked below for much more.

For the weeks running up to the Oct. 5 publication of Fancy Anders Goes to War I am devoting the time usually spent here to doing an essay on something or other to an installment of my serialized literary memoir, A Life in Crime, at the excellent web site of Fancy’s publisher, NeoText.

Response to the first installment – “Why Mystery?” – has been excellent.

This week I focus on “Nolan.”

Read it here.

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The other big project for NeoText is The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me. I spent much of the weekend going over the final galleys of this 90,000 word novel.

I am not always the best judge, but this feels like a very special novel, combining elements of noir on the one hand and science-fiction on the other. I should add that its time frame is contemporary and not futuristic. I will have more to say about this one soon.

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Reminiscence promo photo

Speaking of noir/s-f hybrids, Reminiscence (in theaters and streaming on HBO Max) is a good one, despite its lousy Rotten Tomatoes ranking. Visually stunning, the film has an effective Hugh Jackman at its center and the always interesting actress Rebecca Ferguson as a mysterious femme fatale. It consciously invokes both Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (there’s a Velda and also revenge) and Vertigo, and alternates between moody mystery and action thriller.

The dialogue is more than a little arch, and it does occasionally trip over itself in a Chandler-esque narration (minus any humor), but if you can forgive it that, it’s a worthwhile, even haunting experience. The machinations of the plot are clever and it’s a rare film that gets better as it goes along.

Also streaming right now, on Hulu, is the six-part documentary, McCartney 3,2,1 starring (obviously) Paul McCartney and record producer Rick Rubin. The emphasis is on The Beatles with some side trips to McCartney’s solo work and Wings. It’s basically an informal interview centered around revisiting (and fooling around inside) the mixes of various tracks (mostly Beatles). Rubin proves a knowledgeable questioner, though with his bird’s nest bushy white beard he comes across alternately as a homeless guy who wandered in while McCartney waits for the cops to answer his 911 call and a wide-eyed goofball sitting cross-legged before a bemused guru.

That aside, it’s a wonderful ride and, for an aging Baby Boomer like me, a nostalgic trip that invokes grins and tears and all stops between. McCartney comes across as unpretentious and a very successful idiot savant of a musical genius who has a clear-eyed view of what he’s accomplished, and a sense of the luck and magic involved in these four Liverpool kids coming together.

While Yoko is barely invoked, it’s clear Paul and John loved each other, were two puzzle pieces that fit together into one amazing picture, and the break-up of the group (which we all know was Yoko’s fault and I don’t want to talk about it) hurt McCartney deeply. Both Lennon and McCartney did brilliant work apart, but rarely the equal of their collaborations, even when one was mostly just looking over the other one’s shoulder.

Most fascinating is how McCartney has become a self-professed Beatles fan himself now, appreciating the synergy of the group, and how he reflects on his old view that he was making music with a “bloke” named John but now understands he was making music with John Lennon.

M.A.C.

My Life in Crime Begins

August 24th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

For the next seven weeks, leading up to the publication by NeoText of Fancy Anders Goes to War – as both a Kindle e-book and trade paperback – I will be writing a kind of literary memoir about my various book series.

These will be fairly in-depth essays of around 2500 words each. Installments on Nolan, Quarry, Heller, Ms. Tree and Road to Perdition will culminate in a piece about Fancy Anders. They will appear at the NeoText web site – a very entertaining affair with in particular great material about film, particularly the genre stuff from the last seventy years or so that has tended to get lost in the shuffle.

NeoText has invited me to continue writing these essays in support of other books of mine that will be appearing over the next several years, not necessarily published by them. It’s very generous and is allowing me to sum things up about my writing life in a more focused manner than the (I hope) fun but willy nilly manner I indulge in here.

For these seven weeks, the essays will be the primary content of this update/blog. There will continue to be news and links and occasional blathering, but mostly I will be confined to writing these essays.

Here is this week’s – I think you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll find it lavishly illustrated, as will be all the future entries.

* * *

My Mike Hammer editor at Titan, my pal Andrew Sumner, has been ailing of late. But he’s on the mend, which is great news. Here’s his latest interview with me.

* * *

Tom Helberg of Sentai Filmworks led a discussion of the Lone Wolf and Cub series (manga, films, TV, etc.) featuring film reviewer Ed Travis and myself, with an emphasis on how Road to Perdition was influenced by Lone Wolf.

And here’s the trailer for Sentai’s streaming of the 1973 Lone Wolf and Cub TV series.

* * *

I was not a huge fan of writer/director Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. The film held me but I was unable to fix upon what point he was trying to make – were the rich the actual parasites? The poor? Both? And the resolutely downbeat, violent ending seemed imposed upon the material, not the natural resolution.

But many disagree with me, smart people at that, so it’s just might be I was wrong. Perhaps I’ll revisit it someday. I do know I very much liked Bong Joon Ho’s earlier (2003) film, Memories of Murder (out on Criterion Blu-ray). It’s a police procedural based on a notorious real case in South Korea. The early tone is almost farcical, as the incompetent smalltown cops deal with a serial killer ways alternately buffoonish and thugish. After a young, cool big city inspector joins them to get the case on track, the tone gradually shifts but still has comic moments.

But the story edges toward the abyss as the serial killings continue and the cool cop becomes haunted and frazzled by the crimes. The conclusion will unsettle viewers today, but I warn you not to read anything about this film before giving it a try and, if you have the excellent Criterion edition, make sure to reserve time to watch the supplementary material about the real serial killings and their surprising resolution.

M.A.C.

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