Carry On Spying

May 21st, 2013 by Max Allan Collins

This week my update will be primarily links to the three articles and the several interviews I’ve done to promote COMPLEX 90, plus an encouraging round of reviews for the novel…as well as reviews for other books. With the links to the articles and interviews, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to hear me pontificate.

All I’ll say, by way of anything personal, is that Barb and I loved the new STAR TREK movie (STAR TREK INTO THE DARKNESS) and I may discuss it next week. The reviews and audience response has been great, but a small vocal minority hates the film, and somehow it’s being labeled a box-office disappointment despite being the top movie of the weekend, pulling in over $70 million. Longtime readers of this blog/update may remember that Barb and I have been fans so long that we go back to when “Trekkie” wasn’t an insult. How much did we like the new film? We went on Thursday, and we went back on Sunday. We haven’t seen a movie twice in a theater in ages. It’s a great movie, if you have any real liking for STAR TREK at all, and I would put it slightly above the first (also wonderful) film with this cast and director.

This week, I am working on the galleys of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER and will be continuing preliminary work on KING OF THE WEEDS. I will also be doing my draft of the first chapter of ANTIQUES SWAP – we have to turn in the first chapter of each of the antiques novels early, so it can be previewed in the new book.

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There are a few days left to enter the giveaway for a free copy of COMPLEX 90 at My Bookish Ways.

Here is my Huff Post piece on memorable spy films from novels. There’s accompanying video.

And here are ten memorable Cold War-era spy novels that I write briefly about.

At I wrote about “The Friends of James Bond” – really, the imitators of James Bond.

Here’s a well-conducted interview at the Geek Girl Project.

And another well-done interview (by the interviewer, anyway) at Fanboy Comics.

The reviews for COMPLEX 90 keep rolling in. Here’s a nice one at Celebrity Cafe.

Here’s another good one at City of Films.

This is a very interesting if patronizing review from a writer who gets that Mike Hammer is a characterization and not a blueprint for behavior. It’s a fun read from someone who clearly dug the book but is a little ashamed about it.

This write-up at Unreality Mag is more an article than a review, but certainly worth a look.

I particularly liked this review from a young woman who doesn’t allow her dislike of the ‘60s era male hubba-hubba view of women get in the way of having a good time.

This is from Ed’s Blog – not Ed Gorman, another smart guy named Ed. (Ed Gorman, by the way, was kind of enough to link to the Huff Post piece at his blog. Thanks, Ed!)

Here’s another smart, fun review of COMPLEX 90. Something about the book seems to inspire entertaining reviews.

This is a disappointing though not entirely negative review from, surprisingly, Bookgasm, where my stuff is generally well received. Are some reviewers getting jaded, as I deliver a new Hammer every year? Well, that’s not gonna go on forever….

Here’s a swell review of ANTIQUES CHOP from Jerry’s House of Everything.

And yes, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT is still generating some nice reviews.

The reprints of the early Quarry novels are starting to get some attention from reviewers, as in this write-up from Just a Guy That Likes to Read.

This review links the recent Lawrence Block “Keller” novel with QUARRY. Nice company, but, uh…I was first. Ungracious of me? Don’t care.

A West Virginia newspaper has a review of the Frank Nitti Trilogy from a high school junior who does a bang-up job. You don’t know how much it pleases me to see a new generation picking up on Nate Heller.

David Williams has been reviewing the Hellers in smart, succinct fashion for a while now. Here’s a link to some of his Heller reviews, starting with the most recent of his write-ups, on ANGEL IN BLACK. He doesn’t care much for two of my favorite entries in the series, FLYING BLIND and MAJIC MAN, but nobody’s perfect.


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4 Responses to “Carry On Spying”

  1. Brian_Drake says:

    How could David Williams dislike FLYING BLIND and MAJIC MAN? Those were two of the best! I was thinking of FLYING BLIND recently; that ending….wow….still packs a wallop and I read it many years ago.

  2. mike doran says:

    Reading some of the reviews this time around, I got to thinking about the task you’ve set yourself in the Hammer books.
    Essentially, you’re trying to write a novel that isn’t just set in the ’60s, but is actually being written in the ’60s – as if the four succeeding decades haven’t happened yet.
    It’s not like the Hellers, which are recollections of a past era from a much later perspective.
    I’m wondering if here sometimes isn’t a temptation to make the ’50s or ’60s Hammer “prescient” – to have him miraculously anticipate a future that he (in first person) would have had no way of knowing.

    I don’t know if you got to see the recent FX series THE AMERICANS, about the KGB spies in the ’80s posing as a “typical American” family.
    Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, what fascinated me was its premise that at that stage of the Cold War, Bothh the Soviets and the USA were sort of “flying blind” – that neither side had the slightest idea of what the other was up to , and as a result kept screwing up all over the place (I nearly used the phrase “right and left”; I guess that might have gotten me a cheap laugh, but never mind).
    As an example, in an episode built around the shooting of President Reagan, the FBI/CIA assumes right out of the gate that it’s a KGB plot (the higher-ups make it clear that they want it to be such). Meanwhile, the local KGBers are in a panic; they know that it’s not their plot, and suspect a inside coup might be going on. At no time does either side even consider “one lone nut”, which turned out to be the real explanation.
    Since this is a TV show, with 30+ years of hindsight behind it, the story plays out as darkly comic.
    Still, there are those who will see this as the propaganda of one side or the other, and a affront to their own agendas.
    Reading back over the foregoing, I’m not sure exactly what point I’m making here, especially in relation to what I started out with …
    Ah Nertz.
    Just call it “profound” and move on.
    Still looking for ANTIQUES CHOP.
    More later.

  3. SPKelly says:

    I don’t know if you saw this just out from the Warner Archives:

    Noir Shipping!

    THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS (1944) This crackerjack piece of crime caper from director Jean Negulesco stars two icons, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre and is ready to ship! Adapted from the Eric Ambler thriller, this tale follows a crime writer played by Lorre, hunt up the life story of the despicable, deceased Dimitrios (Zachary Scott, in his screen debut). Newly Remastered — Now Shipping!

  4. Brian, I’ve about given up on individual reader’s responses to individual books. David Williams followwed those up with a rave about CHICAGO CONFIDEDNTIAL, saying I had bounced back after two weak books — frankly, CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is not a favorite of mine or most Heller readers (nothing against the book — I’m proud of it, it’s just not among the upper tier in my view).

    Mike, a big part of what I’m doing with Hammer is trying to write the book in the context of when Mickey began it — and this doesn’t please all readers. Most Hammer fans prefer the early books, and LADY, GO DIE! is the only one I’ve done that falls into that category. I anticipate some readers won’t like KING OF THE WEEDS, because I will be attempting to invoke THE KILLING MAN and BLACK ALLEY, as I did in GOLIATH BONE. I am trying to stay in (and establish a stronger) continuity for the series, and at some point will publish a chronological (in story terms) list of the correct order in which to read the books.

    Mickey was very loose about continuity — though he did often mention events of prior novels — and I’m trying to tighten that up and make sense of it. There’s a problem with Velda, in that Hammer is clearly sleeping with her in the ’60s and early ’70s (THE SNAKE through SURVIVAL…ZERO!) but in Hammer’s last two novels, after Mickey returned to his conservative church, Velda and Mike seem not to have consummated their love. I find the latter ridiculous, and a concession to his church that I don’t have to honor. I may be able to reconcile this in KING OF THE WEEDS with an explanation for why Mike kept hands of with Velda even though they were about to get married and had been a couple for decades.

    By the way, in the partial manuscripts for THE BIG BANG, COMPLEX 90, and LADY GO DIE!, it was clear Mike and Velda were intimiate…right down to on-stage sex scenes.

    And I do avoid anything cute coming in reflecting my awareness of what would happen in subsequent years and decades.

    Also, if I am able to continue after WEEDS, working from shorter but still significant Hammer manuscripts, all of those date to the 1950s. So if I am able to do my job, they should be audience pleasers.