This Just In…

November 29th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

Not much to say at the moment other than I am thrilled and flabbergasted.

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2017 Grand Masters
Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart
Plus 2017 Raven and Ellery Queen Award Winners

November 29, 2016 – New York, NY – Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart have been chosen as the 2017 Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Collins and Ms. Hart will receive their awards at the 71st Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

When told of being named a Grand Master, Collins said, “To be in the company of Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Mickey Spillane is both thrilling and humbling.  This is an honor second to none in the art of mystery and suspense fiction.”

Max Allan Collins sold his first two novels in 1972 while a student at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.  More than one hundred novels have followed, including his award-winning and groundbreaking Nathan Heller historical series, starting with True Detective (1983). His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks.  His other comics credits include the syndicated strip "Dick Tracy"; his own "Ms. Tree"; and "Batman.”  For the hit TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, he wrote ten novels selling millions of copies worldwide, and his movie novels include Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster.

Upon learning that she was named a Grand Master, Hart said. “A writer's stock-in-trade is imagination.  I’ve always felt mine was pretty good, but never in a million years did I ever think winning the MWA Grand Master award was a possibility.  I’m stunned, grateful, and profoundly honored.”

Ellen Hart is the author of thirty-two crime novels.  She is the six-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, the four-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, and the three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award for mystery.  Ellen has taught crime writing for seventeen years through the Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation.

Previous Grand Masters include Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Carolyn Hart, Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Dru Ann Love will receive the 2017 Raven Award.

Dru Ann Love is owner/editor of dru’s book musings (, a blog where characters give a glimpse into a day in their life, as well as her musings. Her musings also appear in Crimespree Magazine. She is also a guest blogger at the Stiletto Gang. Dru Ann is an avid reader, writes poetry, quilts, and loves attending reader/fan conventions. Dru Ann’s blog was nominated for a 2015 Anthony Award for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work. She also serves on the Bouchercon standing committee.

When told that she would receive the Raven Award, Love said, “I’m so thrilled and honored to be awarded the Raven. The mystery community is like a big family and I’m so proud that they have embraced me with open arms. Thanks to the nominating committee for selecting me and a big thanks to the authors—without them, this would not be possible.”

Previous Raven winners include Sisters in Crime, Margaret Kinsman, Kathryn Kennison, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Oline Cogdill, Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry”. This year the Board chose to honor Neil Nyren.

On learning he would receive the Ellery Queen Award, Nyren said, “I’ve spent most of my life with crime and suspense fiction, both as a fan and a professional, but I never imagined this. It’s an enormous honor even being mentioned in the same breath as such legendary previous Ellery Queen Award winners as Joan Kahn, Ed Gorman, Jacques Barzun, Otto Penzler, and Eleanor Sullivan (just to name a few!).”

Neil Nyren is the Executive VP, associate publisher and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House. He has been at Putnam for over 32 years, and before that, at E.P. Dutton, Little Brown, Random House, Arbor House, and Atheneum.

Among his current authors of crime and suspense are Clive Cussler, Ken Follett, C.J. Box, John Sandford, Robert Crais, Jack Higgins, W.E.B. Griffin, Frederick Forsyth, Randy Wayne White, Alex Berenson, Ace Atkins, Alex Grecian, Carol O’Connell, Owen Laukkanen, Michael Sears, and Todd Moss. He has also worked with such writers as Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Daniel Silva, Martha Grimes, Ed McBain, Thomas H. Cook, and Thomas Perry, and he was the first to publish books by Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Kellerman, Gerald Seymour, Garrison Keillor, and Ian McEwan.

Among his nonfiction authors: A. Scott Berg, Maureen Dowd, James A. Baker III, Dave Barry, Joe McGinniss, Charles Kuralt, Andy Rooney, Jeff Greenfield, Senator Harry Reid, General Tony Zinni, Abba Eban, John McEnroe, Pat Riley, Bobby Orr, and Wayne Gretzky.

Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Janet Rudolph, Charles Ardai, Joe Meyers, Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald, Brian Skupin and Kate Stine, Carolyn Marino, Ed Gorman, Janet Hutchings, Cathleen Jordan, Douglas G. Greene, Susanne Kirk, Sara Ann Freed, Hiroshi Hayakawa, Jacques Barzun, Martin Greenburg, Otto Penzler, Richard Levinson, William Link, Ruth Cavin, and Emma Lathen.

The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website:

* * *

When I was discussing the up’s and down’s of 2016 last time, I neglected two major “up’s.”

Among the blessings for me in the vale of tears that was 2016 was having a Quarry TV series…and a good one, at that. Considering I created Quarry in 1971 at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, this blessing took a while to pay off…but pay off it did. Many of you have had nice things to say about show. A few wish it were more like the books, and I’ve discussed that here. But for me it was a major blessing.

Soon I will be starting a new novel, Quarry’s Climax, and beginning work on a graphic novel, Quarry’s War, which will be serialized as comic books by Titan’s new Hard Case Crime comics.

The other major blessing, overlooked last time, was being able to play some band jobs this year. In 2015, I had to cancel all but one gig for Crusin’ because of my heart condition – I don’t remember ever cancelling a gig before in the five decades I’ve been playing, and I hated doing so. I’m strictly a show-must-go-on kind of guy. This year we were able to do half a dozen gigs, and I hope more will follow in 2017. My guitar player, the incredible Jim Van Winkle, and I have been together for over a decade. Drummer Steve Kundel has been with the band, off and on, since the ‘90s, and is truly world-class. “New kid” Brian Van Winkle, Jim’s brother, took over bass when Chuck Bunn passed away a few years ago – Brian is one of the coolest guys you could ever hope to meet, and an excellent bass player.

Crusin’ at Muscatine High School 50th class reunion, left to right, M.A.C., Jim Van Winkle, Steve Kundel, guest Joe McClean, and Brian Van Winkle.

The gigs we played in 2016 were a mixed bag. Actually, every gig went well, but three of them were impacted by my pertussis. Whooping cough does not do a lead singer any favors. The third gig I was getting somewhat back to normal, but it was something of a disappointment because we had originally intended to have a reunion of my original band, the Daybreakers. Illness (not mine for a change!) threw a wrench in the works, although we did add guest artist Joe McClean of the XL’s into the standard Crusin’ mix. The dance went well but I’m afraid a 50th class reunion could not live up to the wild, rockin’ affair of my imagination.

Anyway, 2016 had its highlights, and QUARRY on TV and Crusin’ on stage were chief among them.

Today I am putting finishing touches on the third Caleb York western, The Bloody Spur. That’s the last one on the contract – we’ll see if more follow.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Barb cooked up a storm, and baby Sam Collins was the life of the party. We had our Department 56 Halloween houses up, with lots of movement and scary sounds, and he was fascinated…not frightened in the least.

* * *

J. Kingston Pierce has included Better Dead on his Best 10 list, and has wonderful things to say about it.

Here’s a great review of The Legend of Caleb York.

Mystery Scene magazine has a wonderful Quarry in the Black review by Hank Wagner. Here’s a taste: “…Collins delivers some of the crispest, funniest and most gripping prose of his long career to date. Hardboiled crime fiction at its finest, the Quarry series continues to provide top-notch action, wit and suspense.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 Responses to “This Just In…”

  1. Paul.Griffith says:

    Congratulations my friend!! I am happy for you and proud of you!! May your health continue to improve and your blessings abound! This is a well deserved honor for one of the most prolific writers of our time. Looking forward to 2017 and what it holds for you and Barb.

  2. Tim Field says:

    Wow! Congratulations on a well deserved honor. Enjoy the kudos from your peers.

  3. Jerry House says:

    Congrats! (Although many of your fans already considered you a Grand Master a long time ago.)

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    Thanks for these lovely comments.

    I am working hard at humility…not easy.

  5. Mike Doran says:

    To GRAND MASTER MAX! (and Grand Mistress Barb):

    How long ago was it that I started my admittedly small agitprop for you to get this long-overdue career shout-out?

    “From your lips to God’s ears …” – your words, as I recall.

    Apparently, God was listening …
    (… but I would like a word with Him about Thumper the Wabbit …)

    I’m still hoping that you find a day to get to C&S, where Augie and the rest of us can fete you and Barb in the manner you deserve.

    * … and if you should see fit to mention me in your MWA acceptance speech –
    – it’s duh-RAN (sort of rhymes with Bugs Moran) (and to hell with humility). *

    Anyway – onward!
    To New York City and VICTORY!
    (And maybe a side trip to Forest Park …)

  6. Stephen Mertz says:

    Well done, amigo!!

  7. Bill Crider says:

    Congratulations. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the award, and all I have to say is, “It’s about time.”

  8. Max Allan Collins says:

    Okay, Mike, the credit goes to you.

    Steve, such words from a pal and pro like you do not go unheeded!

    Bill, when I got the phone call and was asked for a statement, I said, “I suppose ‘About damn time’ would be less than gracious.” It was received with the humor intended…but just maybe I was kidding on the square.

  9. My hope is for your hometown (Muscatine) to realize the two ‘pearls’ in their midst! You are certainly the epitomy of every student at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop dream for their future! Take care of your health, most importantly, and spirit we want to enjoy more from you in the future. By the way don’t worry about the non-dancers at your 50th class reunion. Our 55th had Jerry Havemann the next week-end not many jumpin’ and jivin’ then either. Visiting was more the order of the evening. But we did enjoy listening to the music…not much solice for the musicians. Blessings to you and Barb! Enjoy the holidays with lil’Sam, that’s what it is all about. Kudos until next time! ~Chris~

  10. Joe Beckey says:

    Al, I haven’t read all of your writings, but a lot of them. I am so proud to call you friend. Heck, just to say I know you is pretty cool. God bless you, your family and your writing.

  11. Thomas Zappe says:

    It’s nice to see that these award mavens are finally catching up to what your readers have known all along.

  12. Frank says:

    Congrats MAC ! I have every prose novel you have ever written and in my humble collection of 2000 books you are already the Grand Master and taking up the most shelf space of any author. Long overdo.

  13. Terry Beatty says:

    And to think I knew you when.

    Congrats, old pal. Well deserved.

  14. Ed Morrissey says:

    Congratulations! As others have already said, well deserved and long overdue.

  15. Tom Summitt says:

    So proud of you my friend…..Muscatine has been blessed with the Collins’ over the years! Congratulations!

  16. Max Allan Collins says:

    So many lovely comments. Thank you all. Each one means a lot.

  17. Jeff Pierce says:

    Congratulations, Max. A well-deserved honor … and long overdue.

  18. Absolutely thrilled for you, my friend. Well deserved!

  19. Brent Frankenhoff says:

    Congratulations on a well-deserved and long-overdue honor. I still remember when Bob Weinberg introduced me to your various book series at a Chicago Comicon in the early ’90s. I dove deeply into that pool of material and have enjoyed every minute since. I always know that I’ll enjoy one of your books.

  20. John Hocking says:

    Aw, you knew this was going to happen, right?
    If you didn’t I daresay you’re in the minority.


    (More Quarry, Please.)

  21. Aaron Hilton says:

    Congratulations on this incredible achievement.

  22. Sean Kelly says:

    A hearty Omedetou Gozimasu from Yokosuka! It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.