New Mike Hammer Book Giveaway & Encore For Murder

September 20th, 2022 by Max Allan Collins
Kill Me If You Can cover
Hardcover: Target Purchase Link
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Digital Audiobook: Google Play Audiobook Store
Audiobook MP3 CD:
Audiobook CD:

As our celebration of 75 years of Mike Hammer rolls on, the new Hammer novel, Kill Me If You Can, is about to be published by Titan today (September 20).

We have ten copies of the book for the first ten who write me in exchange for a review on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and other review-friendly sites. Kill Me If You Can comes chronologically after Velda’s disappearance and charts (among much else) Hammer’s descent into depression and the bottle…and yet it’s a rousing good time! I promise. As a bonus I have included five short stories (two of them Hammer tales, significant additions to the canon) taking place in the “Hammer-verse.”

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

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I’m involved in many things to celebrate this 75th anniversary of the publication of the novel I, the Jury (1947), including this December the ClassicFlix release of the film I, the Jury (1953), with a 4K Disc as well as a regular and a 3-D Blu-ray. I’ve done a commentary for the film and also included a remaster of the Brian Keith/Blake Edwards 1954 Mike Hammer pilot film (with an on-camera wraparound). Wolfpack has already published The Menace by Mickey and me (a novelization of an unproduced horror screenplay), a collection of his three Young Adult adventure novels, including the previously unpublished title yarn, The Shrinking Island; and a terrific anthology of novelettes and short stories, Stand Up and Die!, which includes a Spillane/Collins “Hammer” story.

Still to come are an expanded, updated version of my 1999 documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane and the definitive biography, Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction by Jim Traylor and me coming out from Mysterious Press in January 2023.

The most quirky and (for me at least) particularly fun iteration of the Hammer celebration has been the local (Muscatine, Iowa) presentation of my Hammer play (from a one-page Spillane synopsis), Encore for Murder. We presented the one-time only performance on Saturday, September 17.

A generous array of photos accompany this update, and I will share some thoughts and memories about it. However, first I’ll mention that we recorded the production and will, at the least, be excerpting scenes (and a few cast interviews) from it in the expanded Spillane documentary.

Noted radio announcer Max Allan Collins introduces the play.
Noted radio announcer Max Allan Collins introduces the play.

It began with a phone call from local theater maven Karen Cooney, who wanted to mount a play in the style of an old radio show as a fund-raiser for the local Art Center. She thought doing a Dick Tracy radio show would be fun and I, of course, was the logical person to provide the script and participate generally. I turned her down flat, saying I had no interest in promoting Dick Tracy, a property I was fired off of in 1993.

A few days later I called Karen back and said, “However – I have an existing Mike Hammer script in the radio style that you could use.” I explained that this was the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer’s debut and I was looking for ways to promote that – particularly fun ways.

I told her that Gary Sandy of WKRP in Cincinnati fame had played Hammer in this play, Encore for Murder, at a mystery festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 2012, and again in 2018 at the prestigious Ruth Ekherd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. Gary’s involvement, and mine, grew out of his co-starring with Patty McCormack in my indie feature, Mommy’s Day.

Encore for Murder was originally recorded in 2011 for Blackstone Audio (in a longer version) by the great Stacy Keach and a full cast including Mike Cornelison and Tim Kazurinsky.

Rene Mauck as Velda with Gary Sandy as Mike.
Rene Mauck as Velda with Gary Sandy as Mike.

Initially for this local presentation, I was going to read Hammer, and the production would be much like the Owensboro one, which was strictly actors at microphones with a sound-effects table in the orchestra pit. Karen wondered if Gary Sandy might consider coming to Muscatine to appear in our production. Somewhat reluctantly, not wanting to put a friend on the spot, I agreed to ask Gary and find out what it might cost to bring him in, because that would be a fund-raising effort unto itself.

I thought getting Gary to do this was a very long shot, but he not only immediately said yes, he refused any compensation (beyond expenses and lodging, which I insisted upon). This began to get me thinking about the more hybrid presentation we’d done in Clearwater, with costumes and more stage action, as well as a giant screen with scene-setting slides and musical cues, and a foley table right on stage to invoke the feel for a studio audience in the days of Golden Age radio.

Still, with a local amateur cast, I didn’t want to get carried away.

My role was co-director, basically letting co-director Cooney cast it (she knew local dramatic talent and I didn’t) and get the play on its feet. When Gary arrived, I would step in and fine-tune. When I went to the first table read of the script, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of the cast.

I went home and said to Barb, who was keeping her distance from this project, “Am I crazy, or could this cast actually be pretty good?” Her answers were “Yes…and maybe.” I begged her to go the second table read and give me her opinion. I read Hammer myself. Afterward, Barb said, “Yes, they’re good.”

From then on I went to all the rehearsals and read the Hammer role, to give the cast a sense of pace and tone. Karen wanted a table read with Gary on the phone, a conference call. Again, somewhat reluctantly as I hated to impose on him, I asked….and Gary wound up doing two table reads.

Gary Sandy does not do anything half-way.

We rehearsed initially in a small black-box theater at Muscatine Community College (where Barb and I had gone in 1966 – 1968, and I taught from 1972 – 1977). We were not able to get into the rather impressive Muscatine High School auditorium until the Tuesday before the Saturday show. Five days to mount and perform it.

Oh…kay….

Gary was coming in Wednesday, traveling during that day, and might stop by and say hi to the cast (all our rehearsals began at 6 p.m. as the school was using the theater till then – we would have to strike the set every time). We’d only have him Thursday and Friday before the Saturday performance. Making this truly problematic was our foley artist, Chad Bishop – studio manager of Muscatine Access Channel Nine – would be controlling the live action sound effects and the prerecorded ones too, as well as the audio mix and musical cues…all from on stage!

(I provided the Stan Purdy music from Mickey’s 1954 Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story LP, and from Chris Christensen’s score for the 1999 documentary.)

The pre-recorded sound-effect cues included things like tire squeals, crashing glass through a skylight, and a plethora of gun shots. Gary would have to conform to these prerecorded cues or unintentional hilarity would ensue.

Gary Sandy as Mike Hammer. Foley artist Chad Bishop at right, the full cast on stage throughout.
Gary Sandy as Mike Hammer. Foley artist Chad Bishop at right, the full cast on stage throughout.

So I got very involved in the directing that first Tuesday night in the real theater space. I was on stage talking to Chad about his foley work and the difficulties they created, when I turned and found myself nose to nose with a grinning Gary Sandy.

After a six-hour drive, the unannounced Gary stepped right in and we ran the full first act, sound effects and music cues and all. The next night we ran the second act the same way. Much of this had to do with Gary coordinating with Chad. But it was thrilling, really was, to see this already very good cast get pulled up at least a notch by Gary’s performance level. I was already impressed by the way every single cast member took direction – because my experience is in features, I work on tweaks not broad strokes, and you might think local talent would have difficulty with nuance. In this case, at least, you’d be wrong.

Gary was not happy with the fedoras we had for him, and neither was I. I decided to try something very special. I have one of Mickey’s Miller Lite-era porkpie Stetsons that his wife Jane gave me – in a hat box with Mickey’s own writing on it. Gary’s mouth dropped open when I presented it to him in his dressing room and said, “If this fits, it’s yours…until after the performance.” Each time he wore it at rehearsal, he returned it to me in the hat box and I brought it again the next day. He only wears it at the open and close of the show…but for the play’s final lines, when he steps out very close to the audience, he looked amazingly like Mickey.

Mike Hammer (Gary Sandy) about to make his exit.
Mike Hammer (Gary Sandy) about to make his exit.

We had two dress rehearsals – Friday night and Saturday afternoon, with only a couple of hours between dress and the Saturday night performance. These were intense and I was tweaking the cast performances and my script throughout it all – some changes were made after the final dress rehearsal!

That dress rehearsal had gone well but not flawlessly, and I left wondering whether this was going to be a bullet train or just a train wreck. I was also concerned because we were up against a televised University of Iowa football game. I knew, from playing band jobs on such nights, audience size would be negatively impacted.

But the turnout was very good – three-hundred souls when we’d been under two hundred on advance sales. The silver lining was a V.I.P. After Party, meet-and-greet/Q and A at the great Merrill Hotel, which had sold out at fifty bucks a pop.

My longtime film/video collaborator Phil Dingeldein joined with Chad and his assistant Jeremy Ferguson in positioning stationary cameras around unobtrusively. Phil shot the dress rehearsals (often roving) and the live performance. He had not been to any of the other rehearsals and he, like Barb, was surprised by the cast and the level of this local production, done under tight, unforgiving circumstances, not to mention a nonexistent budget.

The audience loved it, laughing in the right places, drawing in breath at the tough action – our record was a standing ovation, or I should say Gary and the cast (including hilarious on-stage foley artist Chad Bishop) received a standing ovation.

Where do we go from here? I know we obtained footage that will give us some interesting new moments for the expanded documentary. Having Gary and his Velda (Rene Mauck) and Pat Chambers (Chris Causey) talking about playing these iconic roles alone is a big plus.

Phil, Chad and I will edit the performance together and then there will be hard thinking to do. On the positive side, we have a lot of footage, or “coverage” as we say in the feature film game. I would love to share Gary’s charismatic performance as Hammer, as to date he’s the only actor to perform as the character in a stage play; his take in Encore is amusing without being campy, able to spoof one moment and slide into genuine tough-guy menace the next. One thing I’m considering, if Gary gives his blessing, is including it as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray of the expanded Spillane documentary.

Obviously we have to see how well it comes together as a video presentation (it’s high-def and I already know Phil shot it well). Perhaps if people understand the context, and the small miracle of this local production (Muscatine is a town of 24,000 after all), they will find the experience entertaining and even worthwhile…particularly with a pro like Gary Sandy at its center.

Phil Dingeledin on the camera at ENCORE FOR MURDER, with Max looking on.
Phil Dingeledin on the camera at ENCORE FOR MURDER, with Max looking on.

But can we, as filmmakers, capture the excitement and enjoyment of those in the theater that night?

Stay, as they say, tuned.

M.A.C.

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Fans who made the trip to Muscatine for ENCORE FOR MURDER: Mike and Jackie White.
Fans who made the trip to Muscatine for ENCORE FOR MURDER: Mike and Jackie White.
Max, co-director Karen Cooney, and Gary Sandy at the V.I.P. after party.
Max, co-director Karen Cooney, and Gary Sandy at the V.I.P. after party.
The cast of ENCORE FOR MURDER hams it up at the after party.
The cast of ENCORE FOR MURDER hams it up at the after party.
Max, Gary and filmmaker Phil Dingeldein at the after party.
Max, Gary and filmmaker Phil Dingeldein at the after party.

Mike Hammer And Gary Sandy Come To Iowa

September 13th, 2022 by Max Allan Collins
Encore for Murder, Muscatine poster
Purchase tickets here: https://macfriends.booktix.com/

Saturday, September 17, will be the one-time only performance of Mickey Spillane’s Encore for Murder starring Gary Sandy of WKRP in Cincinnati fame as Mike Hammer. The radio-style play will be presented at the Muscatine High School Theater, 2705 Cedar Street in Muscatine, Iowa. General admissions tickets are $15 apiece, plus a $3 processing fee for online ordering (tickets will also be available at the door).

Co-director Karen Cooney and I have been working with the cast for over a month, and now we go into a full week of rehearsals, with Gary joining us this Wednesday. By “radio-style” what I mean is a presentation in the manner of a Golden Age radio program with a studio audience. That means the actors, though in costume, will use scripts at microphones. A big-screen slide show presentation (40 images) will set the scenes.

A major highlight is the sound effects table, manned by filmmaker Chad Bishop, who also handles the music cues (and selected the slides). Chad brings humor and imagination to the on-stage creation of sound effects (a “foley artist,” in movie terms).

Speaking of movies, my longtime collaborator on film and video projects, Phil Dingeldein of Rock Island’s dphilms, will be shooting the Saturday evening performance (and two dress rehearsals). We will be using footage – both performance and behind-the-scenes – in the coming expansion of my 1999 documentary about Mickey Spillane. We may be doing a shorter documentary on the production itself, and there’s a long shot chance we might be able to put the entire production together as a video program.

As Phil says, “We’ll see what we get.”

The talented cast is entirely local, with several actors veterans of Bishop’s indie film The Man in Purple (it’s on You Tube), about Norman Baker, the Muscatine Depression-era cancer quack who I fictionalized in the Mallory novel, No Cure for Death (1983).

Gary’s tough, wry take on Hammer was first presented in productions of Encore for Murder in Owensboro, Kentucky, and Clearwater, Florida.

Everyone involved has worked hard to make this a special production. My weekly update goes out all across the country (and beyond), so this local production may seem a little esoteric for those of you too far away to consider going. But it’s a fun part of the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer and, with luck, will play nicely into the expanded Spillane documentary (and possibly other forms).

Short update this week! Lots to do getting ready for Mike Hammer and Gary Sandy coming to town.


M.A.C. and co-director Karen Cooney on Muscatine in Focus

M.A.C.

Encore For Paula

September 6th, 2022 by Max Allan Collins

Last Thursday (Sept. 1) I appeared on the Paula Sands Live at KWQC TV in Davenport. Paula’s hour-long Monday-thru-Friday show is extremely high-rated in the Quad Cities market, and she herself – also the nightly news anchor – is celebrating an astonishing forty years at the station. (I accuse her regularly of having an aging portrait in the attic.) This was my first TV shot post-Covid lockdown, and it felt like coming home.

Paula Sands and M.A.C.

As some of you may recall, Paula Sands Live (or a satirized version thereof) appeared with Paula as herself in my movie Mommy’s Day. She was a major character in the film and did a terrific job. Also in that film was Gary Sandy, co-starring with Patty McCormack of course; Gary’s upcoming appearance in Encore for Murder as Mike Hammer on September 17 at the Muscatine High School Theater grows out of my friendship with him when he shot his scenes right here in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1996.

Gary is generously donating his time, reprising his performance as Hammer in the radio-style play Encore for Murder (we originally presented it several years back in Owensboro, Kentucky, and later at Clearwater, Florida), in this one-night-only benefit for the Muscatine Art Center.

Here’s the info, in case you missed it, for those of you close enough to this area (or crazed enough to drive or fly here).

We had our second table read via phone with Gary and the full cast on the evening of the day I appeared on Paula Sands Live. It went very well and the production is really coming together. The cast assembled by co-director Karen Cooney is excellent, and we have Chad Bishop (himself a filmmaker among his many talents) as the foley artist, which is a big, entertaining part of the play, as old-fashioned radio sound effects (and some newfangled computer effects) are generated right on stage.

We are planning to shoot footage at several rehearsals and the performance itself for use in the expansion of my 1999 Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer documentary, which is part of what I’m planning for the ongoing 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer celebration. We already have a video distributor lined up (which will include streaming).

And speaking of Mommy’s Day, my filmmaking partner Phil Dingeldein and I are remastering Mommy and its sequel for another Blu-Ray release. We have vastly improved visuals and will return to the original 4:3 format as intended. For those of you who have bought the movies before, well, uh…thanks! But we are just trying to get the best versions out there so that we can appeal to more streaming services and make the physical media as doggone good as we can.

Mommy Before and After upscale/deinterlace.

And speaking of physical media….

So, all of you film and TV fans, remember when we were told that physical media – that journey from Betamax and VHS to laser disc and DVD, and more recently Blu-Ray to 4K discs – would soon be a thing of the past. Would die a much deserved death, because after all everything we could ever want to see will be permanently available in the “cloud.” It’ll all be out there, childishly simple to access, thanks to the wonder of (drum roll please) streaming services.

This is where you are free to either (a), laugh derisively, (b), laugh maniacally, (c), swear and pound a fist on a table or desk, (d), sit morosely staring into space, or (e), find a quiet corner to sit in and weep. (“All of the above” doesn’t seem a practical option, but attempt if you wish.)

After all, we now know several things about this Brave New Streaming World. Well, first it sucks. Sucks money from each of us and just plain sucks. But admittedly it offers a lot of options, if mostly taking the old So Many Channels and Nothing Is On paradigm to ridiculous heights/lows. But all of these streaming services offer their selection options for a limited time. Sometimes, as with HBO Max, they break promises to subscribers like a popular girl in junior high in 1960 (but I am not bitter).

Yes, movies and TV shows are out there somewhere in the ether, just not where you can access them.

Meanwhile, Blu-ray and 4K chug somewhat expensively along, and break the backs (or anyway banks) of film and TV buffs trying to build their non-cyber library. And yet what a wonderful thing a non-cyber library is. For me, my collection of DVDs, Blu-Rays and 4Ks are (nearly) as important to me as the thousands of books I’ve accumulated in my lifetime.

Now I am not against Kindle and Nook and other methods of reading books on little monitor screens. Some people even read books on their phones, probably the same troubled souls who watch 4K movies on those tiny screens, unless they are carrying large flat screens in their pockets and purses in the pursuit of making their lives seem even more absurd.

I am tolerant of Kindle especially because I have made much more money in recent years from e-books than from what I like to call real books. God bless people for utilizing that tool. And I am obviously berating the streaming services even as I seek to sell my wares to them. But here is a wonderful irony – several of the generations younger than mine (actually, that’s more than several) prefer to buy, read and collect physical books. Kindle use is much, much more predominant among older people, the kind of people still wondering when those flying cars are going to get here.

Listen, Kindle has its place. If I were in a big city commuting, I would be using the one that is gathering dust somewhere in this house (it was given to me by the Thomas & Mercer folks). But I like media in physical object form. I like to hold a book in my hands. I like to study a book’s cover (not the covers of most recent books, which are by and large cold and hideous beyond belief) and delight at how it reflects the book at hand (or bitch about how it doesn’t). I even like the smell of books. And I like the way DVDs and Blu-Rays and 4Ks have pictorial jackets and can be lined up on shelves like books with spines and everything. I am resolutely old-fashioned in that regard, and delighted that so many people younger than me are reading books not on glowing screens.

But glowing screens played an interesting role in all this. Yes, it’s annoying that people have their faces in their phones, and it will serve them right in thirty years when their radioactive noses fall off and they have to go searching for them in the dark (the detached noses will glow, so will be easy to find, don’t worry).

But it was Harry Potter, thanks to the now reviled J.K. Rowling, and the much criticized cell phone that taught several generations to read again. They read those Potter books, actual physical books, and on their phones they read (“read” both past and present tense here) e-mails and texts, and they write them, too. Like people used to write letters.

When I hear people of my generation say, “These kids don’t read today,” I think: that’s what old people were saying when I was a kid; and statistically more old people are reading on Kindles rather than actual books, so what are they talking about?

I find the return to vinyl interesting if odd, since I have loved CDs for their lacks of skips and crackles for decades now. But the CD is old-school physical media that truly is dying, because downloadable music is more closely infinite than the very not infinite “availability” of film and TV from the streamers. Downloadable music is the enemy because it has people creating their own play lists and the art of the album is damaged and maybe dying (you know, like most of Sinatra’s Capitol catalogue and Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds and My Aim Is True and the first Vanilla Fudge album and Weezer’s green album).

So it’s a mixed bag, and it will not sort itself out (if it does) while I am still here.

My son Nate – who is selling a lot more books with his Jo Jo translations than I could ever dream of – has a wonderful idea that I hope he carries through on. He wants to write a blog where each week or maybe day he plucks a random disc from my endless DVD and Blu-Ray collection and watches (and then reviews) it. These will be things he did not watch with me while I was on the planet. I will now walk across the room to a bookcase of Blu-rays, and a spinner of DVDs, and pluck five things at eyes-closed random.

Here are Nate’s first five columns. He will discuss:

The Bowery Boys Volume Four (okay, I cheated on this one); The Halliday Brand (a western directed by Gun Crazy’s Joseph Lewis; An Angel for Satan (with Barbara Steele); Haunt from Scott Beck & Bryan Woods (the Quad Cities boys who made good with A Quiet Place, and unlike the Bowery Boys a genuine chance selection); and Ernest Scared Stupid.

Man would I like to read that column.

M.A.C. with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure shelves at BAM!
THAT’S MY BOY! Translator Nate Collins’ shelves of Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure at the Davenport BAM!
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Here’s a nice write-up on the upcoming Encore for Murder.

Ms. Tree is on this cool list from Punk Noir (great name); but there’s an inaccurate suggestion that I’ve written more than just the one Ms. Tree prose novel for Hard Case Crime.

Finally, this Wealth of Geeks essay discusses the merits of ignoring canon in films from a book (or comic book) series, and uses Mike Hammer to demonstrate. Good piece.

M.A.C.

Hear Me If You Can

August 30th, 2022 by Max Allan Collins

The Skyboat audio version of Kill Me If You Can is available now, ahead of the September 20 release of the Titan hardcover edition. Stefan Rudnicki again narrates the novel as well as the five bonus Spillane/Collins short stories (two of which are Mike Hammer yarns) that are part of the 75th anniversary package.

I can’t say enough about the great job Stefan does. Having to fill the shoes of Stacy Keach is hardly an enviable job, but Stefan pulls it off. Skyboat has been a big supporter of my work, and recently signed to do new audio versions of Regeneration and Bombshell by Barb and me.

Kill Me If You Can audiobook cover
Digital Audiobook: Google Play Audiobook Store
Audiobook MP3 CD:
Audiobook CD:
* * *

Rehearsals are heating up for our local Muscatine, Iowa, presentation of Encore for Murder featuring Gary Sandy as Mike Hammer. (For those of you in the area, or considering a road trip, here’s the info.

We had a table read with Gary joining us by phone – a conference call set-up – and it went well. My co-director Karen Cooney has done a great job casting and getting the show on its feet. I’m getting more involved now, doing some fine-tuning, but this is a strong local cast and I’m very pleased. Karen and several others of us mounting the production were able to look at the auditorium and do some in depth planning – it’s a great venue, seating 600.

We start working with sound effects and music (the latter culled from Mickey’s 1954 record album, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story) this coming week, with a second Gary Sandy table read on Thursday.

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A number of things are coming out soon – the aforementioned Kill Me If You Can and, on Oct. 4, Antiques Liquidation, which just got a snark-free review from Kirkus. Check it out:

Antiques Liquidation cover
ANTIQUES LIQUIDATION
BY BARBARA ALLAN

The mother-daughter pair of Vivian and Brandy Borne may appear to be simple antiques dealers, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.

When Vivian wakes Brandy at 2 a.m. to get a jump on a warehouse full of things that are going to be auctioned off soon—thanks to some sensitive information Vivian has about Conrad Norris, the auctioneer—Brandy gathers up her dog, Sushi, and they all drive to the warehouse where Norris awaits. They leave with a barrel of pearl buttons that Sushi picks out, two valuable toy arks, and a set of dishes. When the auction itself takes place, Norris is drunk and many people are left unsatisfied. Vivian does buy something, though—she couldn’t resist attending the auction, even having picked off some items beforehand—and when she and Brandy return to the warehouse to pick it up, they find Norris dead. Naturally, Chief of Police Tony Cassato—Brandy’s fiance—is called in. Vivian fancies herself a sleuth, and she and Brandy have solved quite a few murders together—a fact that does not incline Tony to want their help. Vivian drags Brandy along on her investigations, knowing that Norris was far from beloved by many people. Someone steals the ark Brandy had given to her best friend’s daughter, but Brandy is hesitant to finger the two collectors she knows fought fiercely to buy the remaining arks at the auction. Vivian and Brandy may be amateur detectives, but they know a hawk from a handsaw and are determined to track down the killer, especially once a skeleton is found in their button barrel, opening up a long-dead case.

Amusing mystery chockablock with antiques lore.

We intend to have book giveaways on both Kill Me If You Can and Antiques Liquidation, so stay tuned.

Before too very long we should be seeing the publication of Fancy Anders for the Boys and Cut-out from Neo-Text. These will be available both as e-books and physical books. (Cut-out is a Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins collaboration.)

And the new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, will be out in hardcover from Hard Case Crime in early December.

I am about to begin the writing of Too Many Bullets, the RFK assassination Heller novel, after months of research. Those months will mean that the flow of books out of here will lessen next year, probably to just three. Some of this has to do with me deciding to slow down because I’m (damnit) 74. Some of it has to do with the amount a research that goes into any Heller novel, but this one has been unexpectedly onerous.

Like a lot of Americans, I assumed the Sirhan Sirhan assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was an open-and-shut case. I knew there were doubts and expected to explore them. But I did not (although I should have) expect the number of rabbit holes I’d be drawn down into.

After filling three notebooks, I have fashioned a rough synopsis, which I will be refining and expanding starting this afternoon. I hope to be writing this week.

As I’ve mentioned, I had intended this novel to cover Jimmy Hoffa material in a lengthy (middle section of the book) flashback. But as an echo of what happened to me writing True Detective in 1981 and ‘82, I found myself facing a book of potentially 1000 pages and had to retool.

(What happened with True Detective is that it turned into two books, the second one being True Crime, the first section of which was planned as the final section of True Detective.)

So Hoffa will probably become a separate book, out of chronology (although there hasn’t really been a linear chronology for Heller since after Neon Mirage).

I know some of you would prefer I write about Quarry or even Nolan (a few still request Mallory). I will indeed write about Quarry again, if I’m able, though I’ve stuck a fork in Nolan with Skim Deep. Of course, if the Lionsgate production of a Nolan film actually happens, I’ll be tempted to sell out. There’s always another story to tell if there’s money involved.

Mallory seems almost certainly a “no.” He was too on-the-nose “me.” I prefer the slightly off-kilter “me” of Heller and Quarry. And of course I’m occasionally called upon to channel Mike Hammer.

* * *

Speaking of Nate Heller, here’s an essay that includes the Heller saga as among the best novels that deserve to be made into TV shows.

Road to Perdition is recommended as one of the best movies to watch on Paramount+ right now.

An in-depth and very positive overview look at my series of Quarry novels – something that has rarely been done – can be found here.

M.A.C.

aug 19, 2003 visitors since August 19, 2003.