Hey Kids! Free Books! And Corona Virus Stuff, Too!!

April 14th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins

Now in Paperback!

E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes
Digital Audiobook: Amazon Kobo
Audio CD:

And now here’s our first Corona Virus-era book giveaway, waiting for you to request a copy, receive, wipe down, read, and review.

We have ten copies of Masquerade for Murder, the new Mike Hammer, and ten copies of the paperback edition of Antiques Ravin’. Request the book of your choice, and if you’re willing to accept the other option, say so. [Note from Nate: All copies are spoken for. Thank you!]

Be sure you’re willing to review the book at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else appropriate, including a blog. If you absolutely hate the book, I certainly won’t insist you review it; but everybody else I would like to see put in their two cents (or three or four or five stars).

You know who already likes it? Booklist. Check this out:

A man steps off a curb. A roaring Ferrari sends him “tumbling across the hood” and speeds off. A famous PI witnesses the moment and senses it wasn’t an accident. Days later the victim’s father hires the famous PI to find out what happened. By then we know the PI is Mike Hammer, appearing in the latest of Max Allan Collins’ reconstructions of Mickey Spillane’s unfinished manuscripts. This one is relatively free of Spillane’s posturings about women and society that offend today’s readers, and that’s fortunate, as it’s a first-rate noir adventure, set in 1988, and it boasts some excellent writing. Hammer’s examination of an apartment, for example, goes on for pages and is so masterfully, tensely described one scarcely notices that absolutely nothing happens. As Spillane/Collins move to the finale, which puts a remarkable twist on the “things are not as they seem” chestnut, Hammer broods on his own obsolescence. He’s a dinosaur, a being from the world of Milton Berle and Howdy Doody. Doesn’t bother him. — Don Crinklaw

Nice one, huh? Now, I’m going to keep after all of you to post those Amazon reviews, especially for Masquerade for Murder, Do No Harm, and Girl Can’t Help It, even if you actually paid for a copy. We have some nice reviews on everything, a couple of weak ones but mostly stellar, and could use more.

Now that the bribery and groveling is out of the way, I’m going to discuss something more serious. I have tried to keep it light here since the Covid-19 thing kicked in, but I’m going to talk this time about something that I’ve been dealing with, something that’s been on my mind.

When the whole shelter-in-place thing started, I didn’t get depressed or upset or terribly scared, even though at my age with my underlying health issues I should be hiding under the bed (shout out to Bill Barr, the Jabba the Hutt of the Trump Administration).

My thoughts initially were mostly centered on how lucky I am – I have a beautiful wife who treats me well, my son and his family are just up the street (and we are now interacting after some quarantining of both households for different reasons) (see below), and I am swimming in books, DVDs, Blu-rays and CD’s. My late actor friend Mike Cornelison used to say he wanted to take his vacations in my house.

Not the worst bomb shelter in the world to be stuck in.

And I also initially thought that, as a writer, I would get (technical term ahead) shitloads of work done. This would work out great. I could really dig in. Right. That’s what Jack Nicholson thought when he first typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I am working. I am working every day. But I would say my productivity is at about half-speed. I feel sluggish. Most days I stop short of depression, but happiness seems pretty abstract right now…though there are of course moments. But this creative slog surprised me.

Then I started to talk to other writers – book writers and TV/movie writers, all of whom had the same initial thought (“This won’t impact my productivity – I’m going to really get a lot done!”) and ever since have struggled to maintain even half their pace.

Some of it, for me, is specific to our life style. Back in the normal world, Barb and I would take at least one and usually two meals out. Since we both work at home, we have used restaurants as a way to get out, run errands, take a break, and not have to deal with cooking. Now every meal is an event. Often a mini-event, but more goes into it, and energy is expended.

Excursions into the outer world – like grocery shopping and going to the pharmacy – take up an inordinate amount of time. Recently I learned I’d been exposed to the Corona Virus by (engaging in what reckless behavior, you ask?) going to the eye doctor to pick my new glasses up, in a very controlled way – an appointment, answering questions at the door, I was the only patient in the building, and the optometrist assistants numbered two (one of whom had Covid-19 but didn’t know it yet). This meant a somewhat scary quarantine for both Barb and me, and no contact for two weeks with Nate and his up-the-street brood. And we had just waited out two weeks since the grandkids had stopped going to Day Care.

So my two weeks elapse, and the next day Barb has chills, a 101-plus fever, and other suspicious symptoms. An afternoon is spent at Urgent Care. Barb is tested. While we wait for results, we explore how we will sequester her in a separate part of the house, if need be. I go to the supermarket by myself (I love that they play oldies during the hour reserved for senior shoppers, and that when it’s up, immediately nauseating country western begins). I buy a cart of food designed for me to take care of myself and Barb, meaning a life based around the microwave altar.

The cart of food I buy for $144 is something that if you had shown it to me, say, in December and told me I had selected the items, I’d have said you’re out of your effing mind.

Two days later it turns out Barb doesn’t have the virus.

Back to the store to buy better groceries, and look in vain for hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes. (Tip for male shoppers: sanitary napkins are no substitute.)

So, my point – if there is one – is that it’s hard to be creative when you’re having these at least mildly dystopian adventures.

I hesitate to share any of this, because I know I have it easy. This isn’t really bad at all. And yet. And yet.

There will be no band jobs this summer. There will be no store signings for any of my books, even if bookstores re-open, and no appearances at conventions – San Diego would be madness (it is anyway) and while we haven’t cancelled Bouchercon yet…really? Really? Is that something any of us should do?

My point of view, of course, is that of a 72 year-old man who on paper died a couple of years ago. So I tend to be cautious.

And I am writing. I was fast before, and even slowed down, I’m still productive. But this reminds me of 9/11 – writers like me, both in books and TV/movies, found themselves wondering if anybody wanted, oh, crime/murder stories anymore, or comedy or music. Turns out we did, but most of us had a sluggish week or two.

This is more than a week or two. I think we’ll find our pace, our groove. But not yet.

* * *

Here’s another lovely Masquerade for Murder review, this time from that terrific writer, Ron Fortier.

Check out this killer Pinterest array of Mike Hammer covers.

Chicago Lightning, the Nate Heller short story collection, gets a nice mention here.

My Batman’s Robin explained in this comics piece. Topic not covered: do I care?

And Road to Perdition is one of the best 100 movies on Netflix right now, sez here.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.


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

7 Responses to “Hey Kids! Free Books! And Corona Virus Stuff, Too!!”

  1. stephen borer says:

    2 thoughts on this posting, and shame on me for correcting a writer – it is ‘When’ the bookstores reopen, not ‘If’ ; and, since you and Barb are irreplaceable, please stay safe and healthy!

  2. Terry Beatty says:

    Erika and I consider ourselves very lucky to still be fully employed, working from home as usual during this disaster, but with the kids home all day “remote learning,” (which means them interrupting us every five minutes for something) and the general sense of dread that comes from reading the news, it’s tough to focus on the work. I miss my breakfasts and lunches out — starting to miss the barbershop — and most of all I miss my weekly Friday morning early bird movie matinees. Heck, I even miss the hour I’d spend sitting in “drive line” at my kids’ school every afternoon, as that’s when I’d listen to The Underground Garage radio show on XM, or get some reading done. I have no idea how people who are out of work are handling this.

    One thing we’re doing is ordering our groceries on line for delivery (and disinfecting the packaging on arrival) — as I don’t miss going to the grocery store — not during this mess.

    Hang in there — stay safe. We’ll get through this.

  3. Tim Field says:

    I understand your take on the generalized depression people are feeling. I teach high school English and am teaching via distance learning. During my office hours on Google Meetings, many of the students who check in are either bored out of their skulls or looking for a pep talk from a friendly adult. I’m glad I don’t teach seniors because they are especially down about missing prom, their senior year and probably their graduation ceremony. As for me, I am missing the human presence of goofy high schoolers and the learning that only truly takes place when humans interact. I can’t kick because I am healthy, sheltered and employed, unlike so many others.

    Looking forward to reading the new Mike Hammer, Caleb York, Trash ‘n Treasures, Nate Heller, Nolan and whatever the Dave Thomas collaboration will be. (Wow – that’s a lot of books you have produced!)

  4. Mike Doran says:

    Sooooo …. no road trip this year?

    Damn and Double Damn, as Bill Crider used to say (and on another plane possibly still does …).

    Well, with spring and summer shot to hell, there’s still the Presidential Election to look forward to (?!?!?!?!?!?).

    I’m ordering up your new inventory as it becomes available, so Thanx And A Hat Tip for that (those?).

    Of course, I’m still wishing that The Penguin Group comes to its collective senses and puts out a Print Edition of Mike Hammer Volume 4, as God intended.

    Years ago, when I was still gainfully(?) employed, I saw a bottle on a candy counter labeled DAMITOL – The Panacea That REALLY Works!
    Sugar pills, sure – but what the heck, I laughed … and I was looking forward to Extra-Strength DAMITOL 2L!.
    I could really use this just now …

    Take care, you guys – OK? OK! (as Dennis James probably says to Bill Crider.)

  5. Vickie Williams says:

    I would love the Mike Hammer book since I already won the Antiques Ravin. Which I loved by the way.

  6. Ken Anchor says:

    Would love a copy of Mike Hammer or any other books you have available. Big fan for many years too.

  7. Hello it’s me, I am also visiting this web site regularly,
    this site is truly pleasant and the users are truly sharing good thoughts.