Fiddling With Nero

July 1st, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

[UPDATE: The Davenport, Iowa Books-a-Million signing has been postponed to August 9, 1 – 3 pm.]

First things first: Barb, Matt Clemens and I are doing a rare triple signing this coming Saturday (July 5) at the Books-a-Million at 4000 E 53rd Street in Davenport, Iowa. From 1 pm to 3. We’ll be signing, among other things, SUPREME JUSTICE, KING OF THE WEEDS and ANTIQUES CON.

Speaking of SUPREME JUSTICE, it goes officially on sale today after its month-long promotion on Amazon Prime for Kindle Readers. For the first time, real books (you know, with paper and everything) are available of this title. By the time you read this, we should be zeroing in on 800 reviews. I have never had anything reviewed so many times before, and I may comment at a later date about some interesting trends among the Amazon reader-reviewers.

The other big news is that – surprising the hell out of me – ASK NOT has been nominated for the Nero Award. Check out the full list of nominees here.

I am thrilled to pieces for a lot of reasons. First, I felt ASK NOT deserved award recognition and both the Edgars and the Shamuses ignored the final book in the JFK Trilogy. Second, this is one of two awards I really, really want to win (I still crave an Edgar, because…well, because I deserve one after forty-plus years of this).

My reasons for wanting a Nero are unique to that award. The major reason, obviously, is that it represents Rex Stout and his great detectives, Nero and Archie, and Stout is on my very short list of favorite mystery writers. (Frankly, I figured the Stout-like SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT might snag a Nero nod, and that ASK NOT would likely get Shamus-nominated. They switched it up on me.)

I think there’s a good deal of Archie Goodwin in Nate Heller – who is kind of a mix of Marlowe, Hammer, Spade and the aforementioned – but never expected to have a Heller nominated. Why? Thanks for asking. I’ll tell you, and I’ll tell you also not only why I won’t win, but why it’s a small miracle that I was nominated.

The nominees are supposed to be “in the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.” Here, prominent among the guidelines, is this: Contains no overt sex or violence. Goddamnit, stop laughing!

Anyone who has ever read a Nate Heller novel knows why I never expected a Heller to be nominated for a much-coveted (by me) Nero. Anyone who has read ASK NOT knows that there’s plenty of overt sex and no small amount of violence. We had a Barbara Allan ANTIQUES nominated a few years back, and I thought that was my only shot.

I’ve always resented that guideline, by the way, because there’s plenty of sex and violence in Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. Or does the Wolfe Pack think Archie and Lily Rowan spend their overnights playing Parcheesi? As for violence, have they ever read THE GOLDEN SPIDERS or THE BLACK MOUNTAIN? Or any number of others? Pfui.

But maybe two or three explicit scenes with Nate Heller boffing a stripper doesn’t qualify as overt sex any more. Times have changed, after all. Maybe smoking cigarettes waiting for a guy you’re asphyxiating isn’t considered all that violent, these days. Hope so.

Still, I would love to win that thing, for a very sincere if shallow reason – it’s the most beautiful award out there. A bust of Nero Wolfe!

And that’s no flummery.

* * *

Reviews for SUPREME JUSTICE are beginning to sprout like mushrooms (which is better than mushrooming like sprouts) on the Net. Like this nice one. [Note from Nate: With a giveaway contest!]

Some reviews are less than SUPREME but still appreciated and not negative…

…and this one falls into that category, too.

Finally, here’s a short but sweet (if anything about this novel could be said to be sweet) review of THE WRONG QUARRY.


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3 Responses to “Fiddling With Nero”

  1. Joe Menta says:

    Some good news for you, Max, in case you were unaware: a nice ad for “Supreme Justice” is now on regular rotation as a Kindle screen saver. That should send a few buyers your way! Have a happy 4th.

  2. Mike Doran says:

    Just to let you know that SUPREME JUSTICE (ink&paper) came in the morning mail today, and that I will get to it in the due course.

    Hope you get that Nero award; I’ve seen pictures of it, and it’s most impressive.

    As to the Edgar …
    … I’ve got a feeling that you’re probably going to have to settle for the Grand Master Award.
    Which, to my way of looking at it, MWA is going to have to give you sooner or later.
    I know, ‘career award’, ‘honorary’, ‘he’s been around forever so throw him a bone’, yada yada yada …
    … but I have looked at the others who’ve gotten Grand Master in recent years – and your track record is at least equal to theirs (maybe even better, but hey, that’s me …).

    If any of your MWA friends should happen to see this, now would be a good time to start clouting for Max Allan Collins to win the Grand Master Edgar. It’s only the fair thing to do – you know the way MAC did for Mickey Spillane all those years ago …

    All these ellipses are getting to me, but since I have brought up Mickey:
    Did you see Mike Nevins’s latest MYSTERY FILE column?
    In it, Mike writes about filmic renditions of Mike Hammer, and opines that Lawrence Tierney (circa early ’50s) would have been ideal casting for the part, if one were allowed to make a full strength movie (Breen Office notwithstanding).
    I’ve been checking out some early Tierney on TCM recently, and it seems to me that Mike Nevins (by his own admission not a Hammer fan) might be on to something – sixty years late, but a good idea is a good idea any time, right?
    What might have been, and all that …
    (Ellipse again; sorry.)

    Back to SUPREME JUSTICE for the moment:
    If any of your recent novels merited a giant-sized publicity push, this would be the one.
    Which makes it a shame that you haven’t got a Major Publisher in back of you, shoving you on to cabloid news shows – and who knows, maybe even the odd network weekend talker.
    You could sit back and watch the punditzes wail back and forth on what you wrote and why you wrote it (and who knows, maybe even one or two might actually have read the bloody thing).
    It could even happen that your Amazon bestseller might break into actual stores, and sell lots of copies that way, and get on an actual newspaper BestSeller List, and then the movie deal, and the multi-book contract, and …

    … it occurs to me that it’s almost noon and I haven’t had breakfast yet.

    To our next C&S meeting.
    And to your MWA pals:
    Get to work on this Grand Master Thing.
    When I said “sooner or later”, I meant “sooner rather than later”.

  3. Thanks for these great comments, guys. Incredible.

    Tierney, by the way, looked a lot like Mickey as they both grew older.