Leighton, Jimmy Leighton

October 12th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins
The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton

Here’s a first glimpse at the stunning Fay Dalton cover of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me (both Fay and her cover are stunning, by the way). You can pre-order it here either on Kindle ($3.99) or as a physical media thingie, which I like to call a “book” ($8.99). The price points of both are excellent, obviously, but the physical media thingie is something of a steal.

The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton is not a novella, like Fancy Anders Goes to War, but a full-length 90,000-word novel. Yes, my co-author indeed is the Dave Thomas from SCTV and much else. I’ll talk about it at more length later, but it’s a hybrid of s-f and crime novel, contemporary not futuristic.

And if you haven’t tried Fancy Anders Goes to War yet, it’s $2.99 on Kindle and a paltry $6.99 for a physical media thingie. It’s also going to be released as an audio book by Sky Boat, but more about that another time.

Once again, the meat of the sandwich this week is another chapter in my literary memoir, A Life in Crime, the first of three entries that will discuss collaboration, leading up to a piece on how Dave and I came to write Jimmy Leighton together. This week it’s how Barb and I work on the Antiques novels and other fiction projects.

* * *

We made a rare excursion to a movie theater on Sunday morning, choosing the time because it would likely be slow, which it was. Our son Nate came with us and it was his first pandemic era trip to the flicks. We bought an extra seat to protect ourselves. Why the effort?

I was determined to see the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die. In my entire strange life, I have never not seen the new James Bond movie within a day or two of its release. I won’t discuss No Time to Die in detail because it has many surprises and nice moments that should be experienced and not spoiler-ed for you.

Having worked with Matt Clemens on the three John Sand novels (an exciting announcement coming about those soon), I was particularly attuned to what the Bond producers were up to on this fifth Daniel Craig entry. Let’s get this out of the way: I loved it. It is long – two hours and 43 minutes – but the only reason that was a problem was how tired we got sitting through 45 minutes of mostly commercials and a few previews. Clearly movie theaters are scrambling for income, so I understand why money from advertisers helps staunch the bleeding. But with a film this long, it’s like being forced to read an endlessly long ransom note.

Don’t let the running time put you off. It’s mostly earned. You may want to do what Barb and I did – we binged on the previous four Daniel Craig episodes, one per night, over four nights. This cycle of Bond films is unique because it really does have a through line – is, in a way, one story.

Daniel Craig has risen to the number two Bond spot for me – there is still only one real Bond, James Bond and that’s Connery, Sean Connery – and edging past Timothy Dalton. Craig could have phoned it in but instead gives the best performance of his run. These five films telling one episodic narrative gives them a special place and unusual power in the Bond film canon.

Daniel Craig in No Time to Die

I met Daniel Craig at a Road to Perdition pre-premiere party in London. I chatted with him about the real Connor Looney (Rooney in the film) and he was charming and had a lovely sense of humor. Yes, I am name-dropping. I only wish I’d known at the time I was meeting the next James Bond.

Barb and I watched the four Craig films on 4K HD Blu-rays and they were eye-popping. We are now watching the first four Star Trek movies on that same glorious format, and I am tempted to say I knew Leonard Nimoy a little, but that would be obnoxious. Walter Koenig and Majel Barrett, too. Walter (a longtime friend) was almost in Mommy and Majel was.

Anyway, Barb and I were reminded how much we love the much unloved Star Trek – The Motion Picture. It’s hard to explain to anyone who didn’t faithfully watch the TV show and long to see it return for about a decade a half what it was like, at the time, to see that film on a great big movie screen. Which Barb and I did four times (and I did five times) (total of five – I’m not a lunatic!). I understand that it plays slow, but for the Trek fan in 1979 every glorious moment of that trip around the exterior of the Enterprise was a religious experience. A very dumb religious experience, I grant you. The story itself is classic Trek.

In all the Trek movies, Shatner does the best Shatner on the planet, and Nimoy’s Spock is one of the great TV/movie recurring characters of all time – it’s really an amazing, smart, nuanced performance. By the way, I love that Shatner is going into space even more than I hate gazillionaires playing rocket man.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is still terrific, decades later. Why does Spock’s death scene work so well even when you know Nimoy was going to make four more movies, not counting the reboot or Next Generation appearances? But it does.

* * *

Here’s another interview on the Fancy Anders virtual tour, featuring looks at Fay Dalton’s art and a preview of Chapter One.

And another interview here.

And here’s one more. I do my best to put different stuff in all of these interviews, though of course I fail miserably.


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5 Responses to “Leighton, Jimmy Leighton”

  1. Ray Cuthbert says:

    When I read the latest installment of A LIFE IN CRIME it reminded me that I’ve often thought that the documentary film “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” (2017) would be a great jumping off point for a M.A.C. story, on its own or as a Nate Heller story.

  2. Ron Panarotti says:

    To me, The Wrath of Khan defines great filmmaking, for exactly the reason you stated.

    I also loved NTTD. How about a revision of your Bond film rankings?

  3. GERARD SAYLOR says:

    Ugh. I need to check in more often. All sorts of new stuff I had not heard about.

    An aside: Did you ever know drummer and Muscatine native Scot Halpin? I was trolling through music on YouTube and read the story about him doing an emergency, on-the-spot fill-in in for a passed out Keith Moon at a San Francisco show. It’s the kid’s fantasy story of going to a ball game, players all are injured, and the coach plucking the kid out of the crowd to play.

  4. Scott Halpin was my Daybreakers/Crusin’ guitar player Bruce Peters’ best friend. I went through school with Scott’s sister, Linda. The story is true and well-known around here and, obviously, beyond. The Who was Scott’s favorite band and he was well-versed with their songbook when he volunteered to take Keith Moon’s place. Incidentally, my Seduction of the Innocent bandmate, Miguel Ferrer, played drums on Keith Moon’s solo album.

  5. Mike Doran says:

    Somewhat belatedly:

    This week I took delivery on both Fancy Anders and Jimmy Leighton – a good double-header in store.

    Fancy caught my eye in particular as reminding me of the serialized stories that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post when you and I were kids (that was the tail-end period of that style of presentation, which our folks would have great personal memories of).
    The illustrations in SatEvePost would have been in color, of course, but as it is, the period feel is very much there, so kudos to Fay Dalton (and what the hey, I can always wait for the collected edition … ).

    Jimmy is out of my usual league, but I’ll follow you and Dave Thomas anywhere …

    I noted in one of the interviews that your first novel was in 1973, which means that if you’re still at it in 2023, that will be the 50th Anniversary – your very own Golden Age.
    Here’s hoping!
    … And here’s also hoping that you and Barb can make it back to C&S somewhat before then.
    (I should have a boxful of stuff for you to sign by then …)