Heller Is 40, a Blue Christmas Trailer & The Princess Bride

December 5th, 2023 by Max Allan Collins

This is the 40th anniversary of Nate Heller (True Detective came out in 1983) and the 50th anniversary of my professional mystery writing career (Bait Money and Blood Money came out in 1973).

I haven’t made a fuss over it, because (a) I was too busy celebrating various Spillane birthdays (Mickey’s 100th and Hammer’s 75th), and (b) I didn’t notice. Several other folks did, and nudged me about it.

So hooray for me, I guess, but mostly hooray for you, for keeping me in business, despite many a bump in the road (to perdition or otherwise). Many a mystery writer, any number more highly touted than me, has come along in these fifty years, but where are they now?

Me, I’m right here with you. And as long as I’m on the right side the grass (the green stuff), I still will be.

Maybe even after that.

* * *

Here is a look at our first trailer for Blue Christmas.

You may have to wait till Christmas 2024 to see the whole movie, as we’re just about to go out to market with it now, with next Yuletide sales our goal. We have an edit that needs just a little tweaking and then we’ll be ready to go.

I want to salute my collaborators, including the remarkable cast led by Rob Merritt, Alisabeth Von Presley and Chris Causey, as well as my longtime director of photography Phil Dingeldein, aided this time by the talented 1st camera assistant Liz Toal. And then there’s Chad Bishop, whose list of efforts on this feature is staggering – producer, editor, lighting tech, sound tech, and playing a major supporting on-screen role (not counting preparing posters and other promo materials).

Blue Christmas Poster

Chad was the editor on Mickey Spillane’s Encore For Murder, which you can pre-order on DVD from Amazon now or pre-order the Blu-Ray of the expanded Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane documentary and get Encore as a 90-minute bonus feature!

* * *

If you stop by here regularly, you already know that the release of the new Nate Heller RFK-assassination novel Too Many Bullets ran into a major snafu when the previous Heller (The Big Bundle) was delayed by a UK doc strike. The two books somewhat collided in the marketplace, and the trade reviewers ignored Bullets – no reviews from the usual suspects, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal. Ouch.

Fortunately, the Internet has been making up for that lapse, starting with a lengthy Heller-centric interview at the great Rap Sheet by longtime M.A.C. supporter, J. Kingston Pierce. Jeff has done two previous in-depth interviews with me over the course of thirty years (!), and this may be the best. He knows just what questions to ask, and the follow-ups, too.

Then Mr. Pierce turned around and wrote Bullets up in his terrific secondary column, Killer Covers. Jeff, your check is in the mail.

And here’s a nice review of Bullets from Reviewing the Evidence (the reviewer has a few quibbles but mostly is flatteringly positive).

And Book Reporter has done a really nice review of Too Many Bullets, right here.

Speaking of The Big Bundle, it will be out in trade paperback from (of course) Hard Case Crime on December 12. You can pre-order that one, too.

* * *

For years now – really, years – I have spent Saturday afternoons with my grandson Sam Collins (Samuel, actually, like Mr. Spade), sharing 3-D movies with him. This goes back to when he was three years old and we watched cartoons – the good stuff, Warner Brothers, Fleischer Popeye and Superman. These weren’t 3-D, but when Sam turned four we switched mostly to movies, and those usually were.

I have seen more kid’s movies than any adult should ever have to endure. Now some are quite good, like pre-Sleeping Beauty Disney. And some are okay, like…well, nothing comes to mind. But a goodly number of kid’s movies are dire. Recently Sam and I watched the latest Paw Patrol movie and a week later – at a movie theater no less – saw the latest Trolls movie.

That was it. That was the straw.

I decided we were going to up the ante and see movies that I felt (that I feel) the eight year-old Sam is ready for. After all, I was a DICK TRACY fan at seven (and this included the Model Jones and Crewy Lou and the Brow stories, twirling bullets through bodies and all). I have been assembling movies to share with him. Ghostbusters and The Great Race (we’ll watch that in two parts) are on deck. We watched Willy Wonka (the original) a month or so ago, and Sam loved it.

So I showed him The Princess Bride on this past Saturday afternoon. And he loved that, as well. When it was over, he said, “It’s a story about a story!”

I do not raise (well, help raise) any dumb grandkids. Obviously. Anything else would be inconceivable.

The Princess Bride poster


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7 Responses to “Heller Is 40, a Blue Christmas Trailer & The Princess Bride”

  1. Brent Frankenhoff says:

    Congratulations on the dual anniversaries. I first discovered Heller in 1991 and have been a fan ever since.

  2. Mark Lambert says:

    First, congrats on the anniversaries! Second, the trailer looks totally awesome! Third, having had kids later in life (when I was 39), I confidently recommend the movie “Kung Fu Panda” — it is well-done and a hoot, if you and your grandson haven’t seen it! I actually introduced my wife to it when she and I got together 9 years ago!

  3. Kim Frazier says:

    Congratulations on the anniversaries! I first discovered Heller in 1985 when I was 14. My library had the paperback copy of “True Detective” on a tabletop display promoting mysteries. I thought it sounded interesting and checked it out. I loved it so much that I had to buy a copy for myself. I’ve got all the Hellers, including the multi-author “Caribbean Blues” book. So thank you for 50 years of awesome writing!

  4. Raymond Cuthbert says:

    I think the road that you’ve led us on through your novels and comics, etc., has been more like THE ROAD TO PARADISE than THE ROAD TO PERDITION. ;) Happy Anniversaries MAC & Nate!

  5. stephenborer says:

    Ditto on the anniversary wishes : Samuel sure chose an excellent grandfather !

  6. Chris Dingsdale says:

    Happy Anniversary Max – sincere thanks for another year of great writing.

    ( Tell Heller I said ‘Hi’ too – he’s looking good for his advancing years ).

    Blue Christmas looks fantastic – I am due for my annual Christmas read real soon ( guess I am going to need an advent calendar to count down to the movie release…..).

    Best wishes for the season.

  7. Tim Field says:

    Congratulations on achieving fifty years as a professional writer. I have been privileged to be reading your works for forty of those years and I have always been impressed by your dedication to your craft, your endless fount of creativity, and your ability to always entertain the reader. Here’s to many more productive years.