Nate Heller’s 20th Century

October 4th, 2011 by Max Allan Collins

In the new MYSTERY SCENE – Number 121, with a pic of my Crusin’ Bouchercon bandmate Val McDermid on the cover – you will find a wonderful overview of the Heller saga by the great mystery critic, Jon L. Breen: “Nate Heller’s 20th Century.” It’s beautifully designed by editor Kate Stine herself, and the issue also features a rave review of BYE BYE, BABY from Thrilling Detective’s Kevin Burton Smith. Don’t miss it.

Craig Clarke has also written about the revival of Heller (courtesy of the new AmazonEncore editions) at his Somebody Dies web site, always worth a visit.

With THE CONSUMMATA about to come out, I’ve been asked to guest blog and do various things and stuff around the net. One of those things was to compile a list of my favorite pulp fiction for Flavorwire (oddly, they call this my list of favorite detective novels). Cool list, if I do say so, with mostly great book covers to illo.

We’ve also had some dynamite reviews of QUARRY’S EX, one at Pulp Serenade and another at Book Reporter. Check ‘em out.

Finally, here are some pics you may enjoy from the recent Bouchercon.

With Jeff Pierce of the great mystery site, the Rap Sheet

With Barb (at right) and our “Barbara Allan” editor from Kensington, Michaela Hamilton

Typical smart-ass moment on a panel.

Matt Clemens (center) speaking on the collaboration panel.

Me giving Gary Phillips some much need shit (Duane S. looks on).

Behind the mic and at the keyboards at the B’con dance

Barb, lovely in the audience

The legendary John Lutz and me

The “Barbara Allan” chorus line

“Barbara Allan”

Private Eye Writers of America Presidents (l to r): Bob Randisi, Jerry Healy, Sara Paretsky, M.A.C., S.J. Rozan, Dick Lochte, Parnell Hall and John Lutz.

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2 Responses to “Nate Heller’s 20th Century”

  1. mike doran says:

    I just came back from Flavorwire, where I noted your 10-Best list has two entries of TV interest.

    Just coincidence, I know, but did you realize that the Perry Mason and Nero Wolfe novels you named were the bases (that’s the plural of basis, right?) for their respective TV series, 43 years apart?

    MOTH-EATEN MINK was filmed in 1956, when Raymond Burr had a kind of crewcut – it grew out to pompadour by the time production kicked in a year later. It’s one of my all-time favorites of the series, especially Ray Collins’s throwaway line at the climax. CBS was committed to a series anyway, but this pilot really flew.

    Jump ahead to 1999, when GOLDEN SPIDERS sold me on Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe, which frankly I hadn’t expected; Chaykin always came across to me as a kind of Canadian Jack Weston. But the first scene at the dinner table won the day for me, and the series was (and is) a firm favorite from then on. Sadly, Chaykin’s death last year means we’ll never get to see him to the opening scene of GAMBIT, where Wolfe burns the dictionary one page at a time in his hearth. You wanted to see that one too, didn’t you? Ah well…

    I know this belongs on the previous thread, but I didn’t know that the illos in the first Heller books were out-of-pocket.
    I guess this means that i’ll just have to hang on to those original St. Martin’s hardcovers that I bought back in the ’80s.
    (So when Heller finally becomes the multimedia smash that he should been all along, I can lord it over all the latecomers: “Hey, I knew him when!”)

    Now to go in search of the new new ones …

  2. The MOTH-EATEN MINK episode is particularly strong, but odd because it has a different look (including Burr’s burr haircut). I love both those series — Mason and Wolfe are among my very favorite detective series.

    The new AmazonEncore editions of the first four novels do have the pictures — not as clear as the original editions, but they are there. If the pop culture gods shine on Heller in the next decade — a film or TV show, for example — editions with pictures might be possible for the other books. An expensive annotated TD would be wonderful fun.