Quarry in Feb, Fancy Anders Coming, and Billy Bob Thornton

September 28th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

News flashes hot off the wires….

If you have pre-ordered Quarry’s Blood, be advised that due to printing, shipping and customs delays, the new Quarry novel from Hard Case Crime won’t be arriving in stores until February 2022.

The publication of Fancy Anders Goes to War is imminent, and both the Kindle e-book and the physical book can be pre-ordered now. I will probably not see the latter until right around publication date, but I am very pleased (obviously) with Fay Dalton’s great cover and the general layout of the book.

Again, the e-book of Fancy will have full color illos (a few are mostly black-and-white with dabs of color) while the “real” book will have the illos in black-and-white. The hope is that after the other two Fancy novellas appear (Fancy Anders For the Boys and Fancy Anders Goes Hollywood, which also feature Fay Dalton covers and illustrations), all three will be gathered in a single book with the illos in color and likely in a larger format.

You can order Fancy Anders Goes to War right here. (E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link, Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link) You can only find it on line, not in brick-and-mortar stores.

Also, over the weekend Dave Thomas, publisher John Schoenfelder and I decided that there would be two covers for NeoText’s also fairly imminent The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton. Fay Dalton has already completed her stunner, and another is being put together from roughs by Dave (with my input) for an alternate cover. You will be able to choose which cover will adorn your copy of the book. (Jimmy is not yet available for pre-order on Amazon, but its publication is soon – October 25).

All ten copies of the Wolfpack edition of Bombshell by Barb and me are now spoken for, so the book giveaway for that title is over. Books will go out within the week. Barb and I will sign them all.

Again, the meat of the sandwich this week is the next installment my ongoing memoir, A Life in Crime, at the great NeoText web site. This week it’s the story of how Road to Perdition came to be and is again lavishly illustrated. I’d like to acknowledge Al Guthrie of NeoText who has been putting these together beautifully.

Next week will be part seven and focus on Fancy Anders on the very week of Fancy Anders Goes to War being published. Coincidence or evil plan? You tell me.

Initially, this was to end this run of A Life in Crime for now, with appropriate installments to be written and appearing in support of future books. But I decided to keep going with this essays right up to the publication of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, so three more installments are (as they delicately say) in the can.

* * *
Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath

Billy Bob Thornton is one of my favorite actors – one of my favorite creative people, period.

Sling Blade (1996) is a masterpiece of indie filmmaking and proof that story and performance are more important than cinematic flash. Thornton’s limited budget made it necessary to shoot his film almost entirely in master shots (wide shots). Despite its lack of moody lighting effects and camera angles, it’s a solid example of film noir.

And I can never find Thornton in that performance. He has disappeared into Karl so thoroughly, the character seems to exist apart from the actor.

Like Orson Welles and John Cassavetes, Thornton has alternated parts in more commercial films with artier fare and the ability to record and perform with his rock band, Boxmasters. Along the way he has starred in some films I like very much – the two Bad Santa movies and the Coen Brothers’ James M. Cain pastiche, The Man Who Wasn’t There – and he knocked the ball out of the park in the first season of the FX miniseries Fargo as Lorne Malvo, a hitman who might be a physical manifestation of the devil.

I mention my like of Thornton primarily to recommend his series Goliath on Amazon Prime. Barb and I are half-way through the fourth and announced final season of this series about a once very successful attorney now an alcoholic shambles of his former self who nonetheless is able to pull himself together to play David against various corporate Goliaths. I’m not sure you need to watch the previous seasons to enjoy this final one. Each season has its own flavor and the second season, although I liked it, soured some viewers.

But overall it’s a great series, in a streaming world where we are hit with so many choices it’s easy to miss some of the really good things. And this fourth season, as far as I’ve seen at least, is outstanding. Thornton directs the first episode with the kind of noir-ish flare that is missing from Sling Blade (although frankly it might have ruined the effect of that low-key classic).

Much of the fourth season takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, as if to dare you not to make the connections between it and the great film of that name. It also consciously invokes Vertigo, which takes guts. By which I mean balls.

And yet so far, they’re pulling it off.

And it has Bruce Dern in it. If that doesn’t make you smile, we have nothing in common.

Billy Bob has been married six or seven times, has phobias about antique furniture and silverware, is a huge fan of My Little Pony, and much other weirdness. And I don’t care. He’s a national treasure.

* * *

Fancy Anders Goes to War, while not a graphic novel, is attracting a lot of attention in the comics world, thanks largely to artist Fay Dalton’s contribution and maybe a little bit because of my comics connections.

IGN has nice coverage here.

John Siuntres’ Word Balloon podcast has an interview with me, and he’s knowledgeable, which made it a pleasure.

This is an especially lively video podcast with Al Mega and C.V.R. the Bard. I had a great time with this one.

And J. Kingston Pierce at the definitive mystery/crime fiction blog, The Rap Sheet, has taken notice of what we’ve been up to here recently.

M.A.C.

Not Another Book Giveaway! Plus Covering Ms. Tree

September 21st, 2021 by Max Allan Collins
Bombshell, Wolfpack edition cover
Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

We have ten copies to give away of the lovely new Wolfpack edition of Bombshell by Barbara Collins and me.

[All copies have been claimed! Thank you for participating, and check back soon for more giveaways. –Nate]

Bombshell is the historical espionage thriller in which Marilyn Monroe meets Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to America in 1959. It has been published previously with Barb receiving top billing, and again under our joint “Barbara Allan” pen name. I’ve been given top billing here to bring it in line with my other Wolfpack titles, but frankly Barb deserves more credit than I do – the novel springs from a short story of hers and reflects her long interest in (and expertise about) Marilyn Monroe.

Again, the main event this week is another chapter in my ongoing memoir, A Life in Crime, which I’ve done for NeoText to help promote Fancy Anders Goes to War, which comes out on October 5, with The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton (by Dave Thomas and me) coming out October 25.

This week is the story of how Ms. Tree came to be, and includes a fantastic array of Terry Beatty’s cover art (and the covers by guest artists of the DC issues and the current Titan archival collections). It’s right here.

Ms. Tree: The Cold Dish cover
Paperback: Bookshop Purchase Link Target Purchase Link
E-Book:
* * *

Norm Macdonald made me laugh harder than anyone I can think of. His deadpan talk-show delivery of corny groaner punchlines after torturous build-ups seemed at odds with his razor-sharp surprising stand-up sardonic observations that shattered the boundaries of political correctness. With quietly self-amused fearlessness he tested what an audience would tolerate, flirting with the ugliness of dark humor yet consumed by a sunny Canadian decency and integrity. The nasty side of his humor was funny in part because he seemed to have an innate sweetness as well as a sense of his own absurdity.

He was at his peak of popularity when he held the news desk at SNL, with two movies on the way, positioning him to be the next Bill Murray or Michael Keaton. But his gambler’s streak kept him from playing it safe, instinctively knowing that what he had to offer was his willingness to go where he shouldn’t like the class clown who faces expulsion but has one last crack to make about the teacher.

So when the boss at NBC, Don Ohlmeyer, ordered Norm to lay off the O.J. Simpson jokes, and the Michael Jackson digs too, Norm simply smiled that small sly smile and upped the ante. My favorite Norm moments were shared by the victim of those moments, prop comic Carrot Top, who showed real class here by sharing with an audience his own skewering.

Norm only topbilled two movies – Dirty Work and Screwed. Neither was loved by critics at the time, but both capture Norm at his best, in particular the dizzingly bad-taste exercise that is Dirty Work (“Note to self: making love to blow-up doll is not as good as advertised”). And Screwed teams Norm with Dave Chappelle, with Elaine Stritch and Danny DeVito offering delightfully unhinged support.

In this humorless, uptight era, the death of Norm Macdonald is the death of comedy.

* * *

This podcast interview with me becomes available today.

M.A.C.

A Fancy Look and the History of Heller

September 14th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

Here is a hot-off-the-presses look at the cover of the print edition of Fancy Anders Goes to War.

Fancy Anders Goes to War Print Cover

As I’ve mentioned here, three Fancy Anders short novels have been done for NeoText. The emphasis is on e-book, but I realize many of you (who are nice enough to follow these updates) much prefer actual books…the much-derided “physical media” of us Luddites.

Well, the physical version of Fancy Anders Goes to War should be very nice indeed. The interior illos by Fay Dalton will be in black-and-white (color in the e-book) and with luck one day we’ll have a collection of all three novellas that will be a larger format with color interior pics.

For now, this is the only print edition. And be advised it’s strictly available online – the e-book is Kindle only – and will not be seen in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

I am really proud of this project and hope you will support Fancy, Fay and me. Here’s where you can pre-order the Kindle edition.

Pre-ordering the print edition has not gone live yet, but I will let you know as soon as it does.

[NEWS FLASH: Pre-order of FANCY ANDERS GOES TO WAR now available: Amazon Purchase Link]

* * *

The main event this week is again an installment of my ongoing “A Life in Crime” series at NeoText’s site, this time dealing with the history and development of the Nathan Heller saga.

One of the great things about NeoText is their willingness – even enthusiasm – to support my work even when it’s for other publishers. I will be starting on – later this year – The Big Bundle, the first of at least two Nathan Heller novels for Hard Case Crime.

Right now I am working on the Spillane biography with Jim Traylor for Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press. It’s a big job but one Jim and I enjoy. I had to gather from several places in my house huge stacks of Spillane material to go through and, in many cases, take notes from. My collecting of articles and reviews and what-have-you pertaining to Mickey’s work goes back to my junior high days in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and earlier material that I picked up through collecting sources. It’s been like poking my ink-stained fingers through a brain filled with decades of memories.

My hope is that Jim and I will be able to present the story of Mickey’s life in the context of the important, much under-estimated contribution he made to the American mystery and world popular culture.

* * *

Here’s a podcast about Road to Perdition, film and (to a lesser degree) graphic novel.

M.A.C.

Hear This! John Sand and Quarry, Too

September 7th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

I am happy to announce an audio book of Come Spy With Me by Matthew V. Clemens and myself. Neither of us have listened to it yet, but both have sampled it and like what we hear.

We were actually given an opportunity by Jake Bray at Wolfpack to choose between two narration styles – basically, American or British. Being no fools, we chose the latter.

There’s a reasonable expectation that audios of Live Fast, Spy Hard and To Live and Spy in Berlin in our John Sand series will appear in the coming months.

Matt and I went out on something of a limb, writing three books one after another in a series that hadn’t proven its legs yet. That sound you hear is either that limb being sawed off behind us or all of you nice readers applauding and/or lining up to buy the books…or at least this groovy (it’s a book set in the ‘60s) audio book.

Come Spy With Me Audiobook Cover

Sample:

Purchase on Audible: Audible

* * *

As has been the case with the previous two updates, this week the main event is an installment of my Life in Crime literary memoir at Neo-Text, who will be publishing both Fancy Anders Goes to Warand The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton in October.

This week I discuss the history of my Quarry series, right here. Profusely illustrated with book covers and also a photograph of the real Quarry.

* * *

Re-reading my essay on Quarry got me thinking (always dangerous).

Don Westlake always said that he became Richard Stark when got up on the wrong side of the bed (also said he became the comic Westlake when the sun was out and Stark when it rained). I know the feeling.

Quarry allowed me – still does, actually – to display my darkest feelings about humanity and specifically Americans. That’s a function of the first novel growing out of the Vietnam war and how it impacted me and my wife Barb and our friends. I was a college student dreading having to go to Vietnam. Ultimately I did not have to, but plenty of my friends did and it changed them. In some cases that change was death.

It gave me a misanthropic side. Like Westlake, I have a sunny side, too. But it sure has been raining a lot.

Now and then the clouds part and a terrific review like this one turns up, for the forthcoming new Quarry novel, Quarry’s Blood.

Quarry's Blood cover
Trade Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link Target Purchase Link
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Quarry’s Blood
Hard Case Crime, $12.95 trade paper

MWA Grand Master Collins’s fine, action-packed 16th Quarry novel (after 2019’s Killing Quarry) brings the series to a fitting close. In 1983, Quarry, a former hit man who now goes after hit men, returns to the seedy club on Mississippi’s Biloxi Strip where, 10 years earlier, he murdered the owners. Luann, his humorless former sweetheart who helped in the killings, has since taken over running the club. Quarry has been following a hit man whose target appears to be Luann. His subsequent execution of the gangster behind the hit, Alex Brunner, leads to unforeseen complications. While raiding Brunner’s safe, he comes across two computer disks containing evidence of bribery incriminating Dixie Mafia biggies, cops, and politicians—evidence of local corruption that could put dozens of people in jail. He leaves town. Not until 2021, when a bestselling true-crime author tracks down the 69-year-old Quarry in the Midwest, does he discover what became of Luann and the floppy disks. Intriguing backstories, crafty revelatory connections, tongue-in-cheek humor, and blistering present-day battles make this entry sizzle. Noir fans will be sorry to see the last of Quarry. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Nov.)

Is it the last of Quarry?

M.A.C.

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