Upcoming Titles, A Recommendation & A Couple Warnings

November 15th, 2022 by Max Allan Collins
Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction cover

I have received a handful of ARCs of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, the upcoming biography of Mickey by Jim Traylor and me. It’s a thing of beauty! Mysterious Press did an outstanding job with the packaging. I will soon be doing a book giveaway for a few copies (possibly five) of this trade paperback version of what will be available in hardcover on (note new pub date) Feb. 7, 2023.

The new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, is delayed, a fact that has dismayed some readers. But the book exists and is in fact a December 2022 title…it’s just held up at the UK docks by a strike. It will be available on Dec. 6 on e-book.

Better news for those dying to read something by yours truly – the first Kindle boxed set from Wolfpack of my work, Max Allan Collins Collection Vol. One: Eliot Ness is a Kindle Deal running from Wednesday, November 30 to Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The price will be dropping from $3.99 to $0.99 during that time period. That’s a quarter a book, which is what I used to pay for new paperbacks when I was in junior high. This is all four of the Eliot Ness in Cleveland novels (Nate Heller guests in two of ‘em).

A Big Bundle book giveaway is coming soon, too. Remember, if you get the novel prior to its publication date (some of you received it via NetGalley), your review can’t appear till we hit that date.

I am working now on the final chapters of the next Heller, Too Many Bullets, about the RFK assassination. It’s a big book, on the lines of True Detective, and in a sense it’s the bookend to that first Heller memoir. It’s been very difficult, in part because of my health issues (doing better, thanks) but also because it’s one of the most complicated cases I’ve dealt with. It has required more time compression and composite characters than I usually employ, and I spend a lot of time discussing with Barb what’s fair and what isn’t fair in an historical novel. I’ve been writing those since 1981 and I still wrestle with that question.

Also, there has been replotting, which is not unusual in the final section of a Heller as the need to tighten up the narrative frequently means a sub-plot gets jettisoned, particularly one that doesn’t rear its head till the last hundred pages.

But I’ll tell you what’s really unfair: using Barb as a sounding board when she’s working on her own draft of the next Antiques novel (Antiques Foe).

I am also wrestling with (and I’ve mentioned this before in these updates) how long I should to stay at it with Heller. The degree of difficulty (as I’ve also mentioned before) is tough at this age. Right now I am considering a kind of coda novel (much like Skim Deep for Nolan and Quarry’s Blood for Quarry) that would wrap things up. The Hoffa story still needs a complete telling.

Should I go that direction, and should my health and degree of interest continue on a positive course, I might do an occasional Heller in a somewhat shorter format. Of course, the problem with that is these crimes are always more complex than I think they’re going to be. I thought The Big Bundle would be an ideal lean-and-mean hardboiled PI novel, perfect for Heller’s debut at Hard Case Crime. But the complexities of a real crime like the Greenlease kidnapping tripped me up. On the other hand, the book – probably a third longer than I’d imagined – came out very well. In my view, anyway.

And with Too Many Bullets, I thought the RFK killing would make a kind of envelope around the Hoffa story, maybe a hundred, hundred-fifty pages of material.


* * *

Last week I recorded (with Phil Dingeldein) the commentary of ClassicFlix’s upcoming widescreen release of The Long Wait, based on Mickey Spillane’s 1951 non-Hammer bestseller. I like the commentary better than my I, the Jury one and have been astonished by just how good I think both the film of I, the Jury and The Long Wait are, since I was used to seeing them in cropped, dubby VHS gray-market versions (and because Mickey himself hated them). Widescreen makes all the difference on Long Wait, and Anthony Quinn is a wonderful Spillane hardboiled hero.

I will report here on when the Blu-ray/4K release is scheduled. It won’t be as pricey as I, the Jury because the 3-D factor is absent.

* * *
Millie Bobbie Brown in Enola Holmes 2

Living under a rock as I do, I had somehow missed the fact that the Enola Holmes movies (there are two, one quite recent, both on Netflix) starred the talented Millie Bobbie Brown of Stranger Things. I also got it into my head that these were kid movies. Wrong again!

These are two excellent, quirky Sherlock Holmes movies, with Henry Cavill excellent as the young Holmes, and very tough films despite a light-hearted touch manifested by Enola (Brown, absolutely wonderful) breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. It’s tricky and charming, and reminiscent – but actually kind of superior – to the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies.

Do not miss these.

Here’s one you can miss: Lou. A lesser Netflix flick, it stars the excellent Allison Janney and starts fairly well, but devolves into ridiculous plot twists and makes a bait-and-switch out of the entire movie.

Also, I have made it clear here that I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, particularly starting with Inglorious Bastards – prior to that, the self-conscious references to his favorite films were too on the nose for my taste, although I revisited them after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a masterpiece) and had less trouble.

I don’t usually criticize other writers, but after trying to read his new book I am convinced Tarantino needs to stick to film, where he colors wildly but within the lines.

His Cinema Speculation is opinionated blather about ‘70s and ‘80s films that reminds us that Tarantino once worked at a video store. This is absolutely the kind of stuff a motormouth, know-it-all video clerk used to put us through when we were just trying to rent the damn movie.

* * *

This is a re-edit of an interview I gave to the Des Moines Register back in 2016 (I think). It’s not bad.

And here you can see a much younger me (and Chet Gould and Rick Fletcher) on the occasion of Dick Tracy’s 50th birthday.


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8 Responses to “Upcoming Titles, A Recommendation & A Couple Warnings”

  1. Raymond Cuthbert says:

    I’m looking forward to SPILLANE – KING OF PULP FICTION and THE BIG BUNDLE very much! Truth to be told, I enjoy Nate Heller more than Mike Hammer! Fortunately I get to read both!

  2. stephenborer says:

    The Register interview is four-star ! Danke !

  3. Bill P says:

    Wow! That Ness bundle is something else. I mean, at 3.99 it is a great deal. At 99 pennies, it should be a sanity test–those who know about it but don’t partake should be examined! And that Spillane bio cover–FAN-tastic!

    As for your Heller decision/question, it is a fair and rational thought from a man who has birthed these characters and lovingly nursed them through life. You want to tell their full story in the way you want to tell it, but you also want to leave a door open to revisit them should time and interest permit. I’ve always enjoyed those series novels where the characters continue to age. They should be allowed that grace. I remember even as a teen reading Lonely Silver Rain by JDM and could tell he was feeling his own age along with his literary double. I knew then that it was the last McGee but didn’t know it wasn’t intentional. I personally liked what you did with Quarry. Can our fictional heroes have children that carry out their stories, just like we carry out those of our own families? Why not?

    Given today’s trend toward Tik Tok or YouTube “shorts”, and everyone having such a short attention span, it might be fun for you to release a few digital shorts of smaller crimes, lesser stories, vignettes. Because the character is established, it may make most sense to those familiar with the previous works rather than rehashing the backstory. They could be the 99 cent short stories that might also hook a new reader to revisit the larger back catalog. If you get enough of them, they could even then be collected or anthologized. In a way, it would almost be akin to going back to the pulp magazine days, but in modern way.

  4. Charles R. Rutledge says:

    Man, I will buy that Spillane bio the day it hits.

  5. "Groovy" Mike Decker says:

    Got my DVD of I, THE JURY (1953) in the mail today. I was really disappointed the M.A.C. commentary isn’t included with the DVD version. I’m visually impaired (we used to call it legally blind in the olden days) and can’t see movies in 3-D, so I opted for the DVD version. Too bad. I was looking forward to your commentary as much as seeing the film. But I can’t complain too much. I never in a million years thought I’d own a restored copy of this film. I’ll definitely be giving it a good review on amazon after I’ve had time to watch it.

    My wife is into Christmas movies, so this will be right up her Noir Alley as well.

    I’ve already pre-ordered the Spillane biography and THE BIG BUNDLE. I was hoping to get them in time for Christmas, but at least I have something to look forward to in the new year!

    Thanks again for all you do.

    “Groovy” Mike Decker

  6. Ed Morrissey says:

    Got the I THE JURY blu ray in the mail last night. Due to lousy eyesight, I can’t “see” 3D but the flat version of the film still looks great! And your commentary was very informative & entertaining. Can’t wait (err…) for THE LONG WAIT blu ray. Thanks Mr. C!

  7. Dennis P McGough says:

    I am enjoying Cinema Speculation very much. I guess I particularly like Tarantino’s mentions of movies that I either didn’t know about or just missed. I have already watched The Thomas Crown Affair and The Outfit. I have always thought that McQueen always gives one note performances and Thomas Crown did nothing to change my mind. The Outfit however was very good. Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker were excellent. It has been many years since I read the Stark novel and I don’t remember it good enough to know if the movie was a faithful adaptation.

  8. My difficulty with Cinema Speculations is not with the material — I love these movies. I saw all of them first run. It’s Taratino’s sloppy first-draft writing, the non-existent editing, and especially his mean-spiritedness toward other directors and actors — at one point calling the latter “crap actors.” It’s an extended rant by a know-it-all video clerk and I couldn’t abide it after about a third of the way. Now I have a high opinion of him as a filmmaker, and have since I posted my negative response to his book watched ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, and once again loved it.