No Time to Spy

December 7th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins
No Time to Spy: The John Sand Box Set cover
E-Book: Amazon

Next week – Wednesday December 15, to be exact – No Time to Spy will go on sale at Amazon (it’s up for pre-sale now). It will likely be labeled The John Sand Box, although there’s a possibility it might say The John Sand Trilogy (this has been under discussion at Wolfpack, our publisher…although we will soon be moving to Wolfpack’s Rough Edges Press imprint under the auspices of the great James Reasoner).

At the moment, No Time to Spy is listed only as a Kindle title, but a print edition will be available soon. We’ll announce that here. The Kindle price is $5.99, which for all three Sand novels is less than two bucks a book. Such a deal. (Don’t know the print edition price yet.)

The nature of the Sand novels makes an omnibus collection like this ideal, as the books work well as one big novel. Truthfully, they would work even better with a fourth book that Matt and I have in mind, but that’s in the hands of readers like you. For those of you who are interested enough in my work to pay attention to these blog/updates, but haven’t tried John Sand yet, now’s the time. If you read on Kindle, get busy. If you prefer print, stay tuned.

These books – despite what a few knucklehead reviewers on Amazon have said (you know – the “I’m a big fan of Max Allan Collins but his books suck” contingent) – these are not in any way spoofs. They are rather tough and violently actionful in the manner of the Fleming originals and the films (all but certain Roger Moore entries). They are not serious John Le Carre exercises, but take place in that world of ‘60s spies where Bond, Harry Palmer, Napoleon Solo (first season), John Drake and Matt Helm (books only) lived. This is the world Austin Powers made fun of.

I realize a good number of you are Old School readers. You not only like physical media, you like to browse in actual bookstores. But I have to ask your patience and, frankly, your help because my markets today are only partly served by the likes of Barnes & Noble and BAM!, no matter how much money I spend at both and the few independent bookstores I run across as an Iowan in Covidville. Two of my primary markets are e-book driven – Wolfpack and Neo-Text – and both serve the print market only through Amazon. Nothing I can do about that – I go where I’m wanted.

So don’t expect to find John Sand or Fancy Anders or Jimmy Leighton on the shelves of traditional bookstores. Ain’t gonna happen, at least not for a while. Take what’s left of my future in your hot little hands and help Jeff Bezos send William Shanter even further into outer space.

Captain Kirk and I implore you.

* * *

Matt Clemens and I live about thirty miles apart. I’m in Muscatine, Iowa, and he’s in Davenport, Iowa. We have written around 30 novels together, and he worked on all four of my indie features. I talk with him on the phone frequently and did so throughout the Covid lockdown, during which we wrote two of the John Sand books. But today, when he drove to Muscatine to bring me some books, was the first we’ve been in the same room together for almost two years.

It was fun. We talked about mystery writer stuff and explored possibilities for a fourth John Sand novel, while the family dog, Toaster – a demented Blue Heeler (is there any other kind?) – barked and then whimpered and finally rolled submissively on her back for Matt.

No one had been in our house except the others in our lockdown bubble – Nate and his missus and their two young ‘uns – since March 2020. Toaster is crazy as it is, but the presence of Matthew – not a small man – absolutely drove her past the brink and into insanity…a watchdog delirious with joy thanks to a human she knew well but hadn’t seen in ages.

Relationships on the phone and zoom work – they really do. But being in the same room as a friend and talking and interacting and looking at each other…it’s a part of being human that I’d missed more than I realized.

We did something we rarely did at the end of the day, Matt and me – we shook hands.

“Let’s write a book together next year,” he said

“Let’s,” I said.

* * *

Last week and through the weekend – with Jim Traylor’s counsel – I revised Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction for editor Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press. I delivered it today. I have also completed the 14-page synopsis of The Big Bundle, after spending many hours reading research, looking for the story part of the word history.

I think I found it, and I’m excited to be starting what will surely be one of the last few Heller novels, meaning it needs to be a really good one.

My very next project, which I will begin writing on the day this update appears, is my draft – working from Barb’s – of Antiques Foe. The pun, for those of you paying attention, is “faux/foe.” I really enjoy working on these.

* * *

Here is a Dave Thomas interview about our book The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton.

About half-way through this podcast, the Evil Genius (Dave Slusher) talks about really liking my books but doesn’t think they’re great – they don’t show much “art.” At the beginning of my career, the New York Times mystery critic said: “Collins has an artless style that conceals a great deal of art.” So there, Evil Genius. But thanks.

Finally, we posted a link to this Ron Fortier review of Skim Deep before, but it’s such a lovely one, here it is again in case you missed it (picked up by ESO Network).


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One Response to “No Time to Spy”

  1. Frank says:

    Make me down as looking forward to the 4th John Sand book.