Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hammer’

The Busy Lane I Picked

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

I’m at one of those odd junctures where, because I write so much, I am bombarded by the demands of individual books ganging up on me, as needy as bunch of starving brats.

Look, I know it’s my fault, a combination of karma and my selfish desire to do a lot of different things and, along the way, maybe earning a decent living. My inclination, as an artist (I think that’s a fair way to put it, as long as I don’t add an “e” on the end) is to do one project at a time. Concentrate on one thing.

I mostly write novels, and I write them much as I read books – one at a time. I am not one of those strange, unfathomable people who read a number of books at once – they are like drunks changing channels on a runaway remote, as far as I’m concerned. This is one of the reasons why I don’t read much fiction – because the book I’m immersed in is the book I’m writing.

And you may have noticed that I’m always writing a book.

Almost always. I do take a week or two off between books, but I do other writing then – like short stories and articles – and catch up with the things I’ve neglected, like real life.

But fiction writing is a business, or rather a hobby or an art that has to be a business if you want to avoid a real job, a goal I have pursued since I quit my job sacking groceries in 1967. And as a business, the demands of publishing don’t care that I’m writing a book, particularly a book a given publisher isn’t, you know, publishing.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about having just finished Quarry’s Blood, and my incredibly fast editor, Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime, read it in a couple of days and returned it with queries and minor rewrite requests, all reasonable and helpful. In the scheme of things, getting a freshly finished novel back with such immediacy is both unusual and wonderful. Everything is still fresh in my mind, and I can do the novel justice.

However. I am also dealing with the galley proofs of Antiques Carry On. Due simultaneously are the galley proofs of Live Fast, Spy Hard (John Sand #2), and the galley proofs for the short story collection, Suspense – His and Hers by Barb and me. In addition to the aforementioned Antiques Carry On galleys, our new publisher for that series quite reasonably wants a questionnaire about the book and its authors filled out, and an essay about the book written for their customers.

Galley proofs require a close read, looking for mistakes on the publisher’s end (typos) and mistakes on the author’s (continuity errors and general clean-up of writing problems, like repeating a word too many times on a page). It’s a time-consuming prospect – an Antiques book or the John Sand would take a day or two each.

Even worse is when a copy-edited manuscript comes in (the step before galley proofs), at least when a copy editor has overstepped his or her job description. This happens a lot, in my experience. Why a serial killer in one of my books hasn’t singled out copy editors for attention yet is a greater mystery than I have ever concocted.

Am I complaining? Well, of course I am, but not really. I am complaining more about my inability to do more than one thing at once. But I am improving. Right now, it’s my privilege and pleasure to be working with someone I admire and, even better, really like – Dave Thomas, SCTV star, among much else. Dave is working on the first draft of a book we’ve been working on for over a year, a project I am very proud of and am anxious to discuss here in more depth, when the time is right.

Dave, probably because of his incredible improv background, likes to run things by me and we talk and kick things around, and it’s really just great fun. I seem to have no problem stepping out of, say, Quarry’s Blood to talk about and explore the options and possibilities for our novel together in a plotting session.

But one of the things that’s become clear to me, when I’ve had such disparate projects as the Dave Thomas one, Quarry, Antiques and John Sand spinning in my brain like a noir dream sequence, is that I’ve come to understand better why I can’t expect every reader of mine to like or even understand every facet of my imagination and interests.

Some of you may recall a reader, irritated by one of my relatively rare excursions into politics, insisting that I should “pick a lane.” I responded that I am left of center in my politics, but close enough to the middle that both lanes of traffic have an equal swipe at me. I also mentioned that I feel nuance is a positive, not a negative.

I have, obviously, picked a lane in my writing – mystery/crime, but even that is really two genres, and of course horror is part of it, as the current Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales demonstrates. But it’s clear to me, at this ripe old age, that I would have been more popular and successful as a fiction writer if I had been more narrow in focus.

The thing is, I am driven not so much by genre considerations as I am by ideas. Ideas have driven every novel writing choice I’ve made. Quarry was a hitman who had to solve the murder he committed. Road to Perdition was a take on John Woo and other Asian influences my then very young son and I were taking in. Mommy was a reversal of The Bad Seed’s premise. Eliot Ness, both novel and non-fiction, was looking for the man behind the myth, and his real cases. Black Hats was old Wyatt Earp meets young Al Capone. USS Powderkeg was a way to talk about my father’s experiences with an all-black crew in the Pacific during the Second World War. Krista and Keith Larson was an American take on Nordic noir and a step away from hardboiled genre types. Ms. Tree was Velda marrying Mike Hammer and Mike getting killed on their honeymoon. Antiques was a young woman using antiquing (and amateur sleuthing) as a positive way to relate to her eccentric mother. Supreme Justice was somebody killing Supreme Court justices to change the balance of the court. John Sand is the spy that James Bond was based on. And on and on.

Ideas.

And the need to execute these ideas in a way that is appropriate to the material is the goal – effective storytelling, interesting to me. Fiction writers should write the novels they want to read themselves. Their first audience is themselves – and my readers are invited in, welcomed in, but don’t always share my interests and enthusiasms.

So I get it if Girl Can’t Help It doesn’t please somebody who is really into Quarry and Nolan. I wholly understand if someone into the Antiques series is horrified beyond words at my writing Mike Hammer novels.

But it is, frankly, hurtful when a reader feels betrayed by a choice I’ve made, and attacks a work that isn’t on their wave length as if I have failed them or am “phoning it in” or doing inferior work simply because it’s not to their taste.

And here in the last phase of my career – which I hope will be another twenty years, don’t get me wrong – I am interested in getting as many of the stories I want to tell fucking told. I am (as perhaps being the co-author of a series of cozy mysteries about antiquing might indicate) a collector. I am of perhaps the first generation of mystery writers who were fans first, and became writers.

So what I am doing, in 2021 and beyond, is collecting my own books. In a way, I am my own biggest fan, but also my harshest critic. A creative person needs to be an unlikely combination of self-confidence and self-doubt, and I certainly qualify.

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Turning the Tied cover

Matt Clemens and I have contributed a Sherlock Holmes short story to an exciting new collection by top tie-in writers. Read about it here.

J. Kingston Pierce’s Rap Sheet is always worth reading. Some interesting news about me is buried in his latest installment.

Finally, Mike Hammer: The Night I Died graphic novel from Titan is one of seven recommended graphic novels here.

M.A.C.

Book Give-Away, Noir Alley Clips, and a Current Interview

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021
Max Allan Collins holding up a trade paperback of Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales

This week we have fifteen copies of the beautiful Wolfpack trade paperback edition of Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales to give away. I’ve written about this book here before, but I only now have physical copies in hand.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! New updates are posted every Tuesday at 9 Central. — Nate]

If you miss out on the giveaway, I hope you’ll order it anyway, either on Kindle or this very cool trade paperback, which is a rather massive 330-some pages. It collects virtually all of my horror short stories, including two radio plays written for Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories.

Be forewarned (or enticed, as the case may be) that many of the stories in Reincarnal (as the title may indicate) have a strong sexual element. This has to do with many of them originally having been published in erotic horror anthologies, back in the day when such stalwarts as Marty Greenberg, Jeff Gelb and Ed Gorman were turning out wonderful “theme” anthologies of original stories.

As I said here before, horror is a strong element of my fiction – you can see it in the Mommy novels (available from Wolfpack), many of the Quarry novels (The Wrong Quarry), a number of Hellers (Angel in Black), Eliot Ness (Butcher’s Dozen) and novels by Barb and me (Regeneration). Even the recent non-fiction work, Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher (by A. Brad Schwartz and myself) qualifies as horror-tinged. The only horror tales not collected in Reincarnal can be found in the Wolfpack collections Murderlized (gathering collaborative stories by Matt Clemens and me), Blue Christmas (holiday horror and dark suspense), and Murder – His and Hers (stories by Barb and me).

While I am first and foremost a novelist, I do enjoy writing short stories and it’s long been an ambition to see collections of my shorter fiction, like Reincarnal, give those stories a certain permanence.

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If you missed my second guest shot with Eddie Muller on Noir Alley, here is the intro and the outro for Born to Kill, a great crime movie you should see (the TCM streaming service has it right now).

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Publisher’s Weekly has a great article by Lenny Picker about Hard Case Crime. I can’t share it with you, because PW requires you to subscribe for the link to go through.

I was interviewed for the PW article on HCC, and a grand total of one paragraph was used (in part) in that article. So, since that interview is very up-to-date as to what I’m up to, I’ll share it here:

What led you to have some of your books published by Hard Case Crime? In other words, what makes a Collins book a better fit for HCC?

When editor/publisher Charles Ardai began Hard Case Crime, he featured a number of reprints among the originals, from the classic likes of Erle Stanley Gardner and Lawrence Block. He approached me about reprinting the second Nolan novel, Blood Money, and I suggested he reprint both it and the first in the series, Bait Money, under one cover, which he did, as Two for the Money. Later he approached me about doing another reprint and I offered instead to write an original. It was obvious to me Charles and his partner Max Phillips had a love and feel for classic hardboiled fiction and represented a home for what I most like to write in a market not terribly conducive to that.

Another fact was the retro packaging, the covers that were not only fully illustrative in the fashion of ’50s and ’60s paperback suspense novels, but depicted beautiful femme fatales and handsome tough guys, in a fashion that had become essentially forbidden due to politically correct restraints at other publishers. HCC has a way of saying, “We’re retro, not Neanderthals. We have our tongue slightly in cheek as we celebrate a form of American mystery fiction pioneered by such greats as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.”

What makes them different from other publishers/imprints?

They go their own way and are motivated by a love for the noir genre, taking risks with new talent and respect older talent. Charles Ardai encourages me to write what I want to write. I’m at a point in my career and, frankly, at an age where being able to write what I want means more than financial considerations, an approach that can pay off better than a more market-driven, cynical one.

For example, the first original I did for HCC was a return to my Quarry series, which had become a cult favorite after its initial four-book run in the mid-’70s and a one-shot comeback ten years later. I’d always wanted to complete the series and The Last Quarry was intended to be the final book about my hitman character…the first contract killer to “star” in a book series. The Last Quarry was popular and widely well-reviewed. Charles said, “Too bad you’ve written the last book in the series.” And I said, “How about I write, The First Quarry?” Since then another dozen or so have followed. An award-winning short film I wrote led to a Quarry feature film (The Last Lullaby), and a few years ago HBO/Cinemax did a Quarry TV series.

What led you to revive Nolan last month?

Charles has been after me to do that dating back to Two for the Money. I resisted, feeling my novel Spree was the proper ending to the series. But he said he’d bring the early books back out if I did a coda to the series, which I have — the current Skim Deep. Now I’m writing a coda to The Last Quarry called Quarry’s Blood. My hitman is 68 years old in the novel, which is younger than me.

How hard was it to return to the character after so many years?

Not at all. I spent almost two years, when I was at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in the late ’60s, writing that novel. My instructor was Richard Yates, the great mainstream novelist. I also studied with Walter Tevis, whose reputation is getting a boost from The Queen’s Gambit mini-series. So I spent a lot of time with Nolan and his young sidekick Jon, and then there were the other six novels and several versions of a Nolan screenplay I wrote a while back…unproduced as yet, but it got optioned. A movie is brewing now combining elements of several of the novels.

How was writing him different?

He was an old man of 48 when I conceived him at age 20. Now he’s 55 and really something of an old man, so my perspective on him has shifted.

Are there other characters that you’re planning on reviving?

I get requests to do another Mallory, but that character was based on me, which doesn’t interest me. My recent Krista Larson series I hope to keep going, and when the political world settles down, if it ever does, I might do another Reeder & Rogers novel with Matt Clemens, who I’m writing the James Bond-ish “John Sand” novels with now for Wolfpack. My wife Barb and I are continuing the long-running Antiques series we write together as Barbara Allan, with Severn now.

The biggest thing will be taking Nathan Heller to HCC. I consider the Heller novels – which as you know are traditional tough private eye novels dealing with major crimes of the Twentieth Century – my best work, my signature work. But I don’t spend all my time looking backward. I’m working on two projects for Neo-Text, one a ’40s female private eye, Fancy Anders, who solves mysteries involving an aircraft plant, a movie studio, and the Hollywood Canteen. The other is a science-fiction-tinged noir collaborating with SCTV star Dave Thomas, who was a writer/producer on Blacklist and Bones, for which I wrote a tie-in novel.

I should note that HCC has been a supporter of my work building up the legacy of my friend and mentor, Mickey Spillane. We’ve done several books at HCC, and something like fourteen Mike Hammer novels at HCC’s parent company, Titan. These all reflect my completing unfinished manuscripts from Mickey’s files, something he asked me to do shortly before his passing in 2006. Next year is the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer, and I’ll be doing a biography of him with James Traylor for Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press. It’s people like Charles and Otto who nurture and keep the hardboiled genre alive in the face of changing times.

What would you most want article readers to know about HCC?

HCC is a boutique publisher that cares about books, readers, and authors. I am extremely grateful to them for letting pursue my work my way.

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A reader in this You Tube piece recommends five HCC titles to represent that publisher’s output, and The First Quarry is one of them!

And, finally, this fantastic review from the UK of the current Mike Hammer, Masquerade for Murder.

M.A.C.

Santa Thought I Was Special

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

This great new edition of Blue Christmas is out now! Look at this wonderful Wolfpack cover!

Blue Christmas Cover
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Trade Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link
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As I write this, Christmas is five days away, although we always celebrated – and still do, largely – on Christmas Eve.

My father, Max A. Collins, Sr., was a talented man. He was for about a decade probably the most celebrated instructor of high school choral music in the state of Iowa. His students won every prize imaginable, and he put on the first high school musicals in the country of Oklahoma and Carousel, getting state-wide press. He also put on a musical written by Keith Larson, an early writing mentor of mine whose name I’ve given to one of the two main characters in the Krista and Keith Larson series (The Girl Most Likely and The Girl Can’t Help It). Dad left teaching to improve life for his family with a much bigger paycheck as the personnel man at HON Industries (later Human Resources Director).

More important to him, I venture to say, was the male chorus he directed for fifty years, the Muscatine Elks Chanters. In the 1950s, his group competed in the national championship for Elks male choruses. They competed against New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and choruses from every major city you can imagine. They won three years in a row, in fact, and were named permanent national champions with the contest shut down when nobody wanted to compete against them – “They’re ringers!” “He must be using professionals!” No, it was just men from the community, all walks of life (as they say), blue collar workers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and druggists, and whoever he had in his chorus, it always sounded the same. He could produce a unique sound from any chorus. He and the Chanters were once featured on the national TV show, People Are Funny (the funny thing they did was wear Bermuda shorts while performing) (hey, it was the ‘50s).

Perhaps I should mention that, right out of college, Dad turned down the opportunity to go professional with an opera company and instead took that teaching job in Iowa where he and my mother raised me. By the way, my late uncle Mahlon was the premiere high-school band director in Iowa in the ‘50s. The Collins brothers were legendary in those circles.

Dad served in the Pacific and his experiences were the basis of my book USS Powderkeg (I added the murders).

My mother was a housewife, as we described it then (and as I suppose Donald Trump still does). She was very active in charities, worked with Dad on the Chanters, and played a whole lot of bridge. She was also about the most attentive mother an only child ever had.

My best childhood memories are of the ‘50s. That was when my mom read to me at night, starting with (God love her) Tarzan. She introduced me to Dick Tracy comic books when I was six. What a gal! She took me to countless movies. She is definitely where I got my love for film and books.

My father was unusual in that he went to college on a split scholarship – music and sports. At Simpson College, he sang, played trumpet, played baseball and basketball and football. For years he was disappointed in me because I did not share his interest in sports. So I got involved in football in junior high. I had a growth spurt and, along with the face mask I wore to protect my glasses, that allowed me to take revenge upon many of the boys who had picked on me when I was a scrawny bookworm with specs. Anyway, I did well enough in high school to get a few football scholarship offers – I knew enough not to take them, because I knew how hard they hit in college – but that bonded Dad and me better.

Both my parents were incredibly supportive of my writing, and of my rock bands. The Daybreakers rehearsed in my parents’ basement for probably three years past my leaving home to marry Barb.

In high school, when all of my friends had summer jobs sacking groceries or pumping gas or building silos, I was told I could stay home and pursue my efforts to become a writer, if I treated it as a job, and worked at it every day. They believed in me. They even kept my allowance ($6.50) going in those summer months, including the $1.50 meal ticket money I was no longer giving Muscatine High School for the privilege of serving me mystery meat, supposed potatoes, and inedible vegetables.

The Collins family playing piano with a small Christmas tree in the background

But this is about Christmas, or anyway starting now it is. I was always informed by me parents that I was spoiled. I accepted this as fact until I grew older and realized that I wasn’t spoiled at all, but I’d had their love and support, which is better. When I was in grade school getting a ten-cent a week allowance (enough for a comic book till they went to twelve-cents), I didn’t feel spoiled. I didn’t in junior high either, when they raised my stipend to a buck (fifty cents of which was meal ticket).

Granted, my Christmases were special, even more special than most kids. For one thing, in a move that no doubt has given me undeserved confidence over my life, they hired a local Santa Claus to come by the house on Christmas Eve with his bag of gifts to see me personally. I was pledged not to tell any other kids that I was getting this special treatment – they might feel bad.

As a kid, I got gifts running to books and a few toys. No model trains, which was fine, because my friend Tom Hufford had a huge Lionel layout if I was ever in the mood, which frankly I rarely was. Once I became a Dick Tracy fanatic I got a lot of Tracy stuff, including several squad cars, and I scored a Robbie the Robot toy that I would love to have today. Also one of those stuffed monkeys with the red butt. The rest is a blur, although I remember my dad spending hours putting together a metal fort that cut him up like a gang fight.

Okay, here’s the thing about Santa coming early. Turns out I wasn’t that special. My father, in addition to teaching and later being an office-furniture executive, directed the church choir – Baptist, then Methodist (it was a paying gig). He had to be part of the midnight service, which I believe started at 11 p.m. (just another of the mysteries of world religion). We always had Christmas with both sets of grandparents – usually my dad’s folks first in Grand Junction, Iowa, and a couple days later a late Christmas with my mom’s folks in Indianola, Iowa.

The gifts from grandparents were so unmemorable I don’t remember any one of them, although my Grandpa Ray always gave me (not just on Christmas) two dollars, which was a fortune. It was also another indication that I was special, because my cousins Kris and Kathy only got a buck a piece (I was sworn to secrecy even as I was starting to learn life was unfair).

Anyway, I figured out – probably twenty years later – that Santa came on the 24th because we were traveling on the 25th. Getting my toys Christmas Eve actually was cruel and unusual punishment, because I was never allowed to bring any of them along.

But things changed in junior high and high school. Dad didn’t have a long Christmas break (as he’d had as a high school teacher) so the trips to the grandparents over the holidays were less frequent.

I got a lot of cool stuff, including a generic gun belt with a cap pistol (the Fanner 50 by Matel was out of reach, too expensive). One year I got This Is Darin, the new Bobby Darin LP – I still have it. Mom made sure I always got a box of cherry chocolates. The big prize was a typewriter, the best present they ever gave me. It was a very expensive gift for one thing, but mainly it said they believed in me. That they thought I really was a budding writer, from the very beginning.

If you’re going to “spoil” a kid, that’s not a bad way to do it.

Max Allan Collins Jr., Age 4-and-a-half, seated in a rocking chair and reading a book titled
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I am pleased to say Borg.com has named Masquerade for Murder one of the best books of the year – specifically Best Retro Read. Skip down and read all about it.

Here’s some Davenport history about the Col Ballroom where the Daybreakers and I get a nice mention. I feature the Col (now unfortunately closed) in The Girl Can’t Help It.

Road to Perdition (the film) gets some love here.

Indiewire thinks Nate Heller deserves to be on TV – you know, so do I!

The great J. Kingston Pierce pays tribute to my late friend Parnell Hall, thusly:

“Another loss for mystery fiction: Parnell Hall, a California-born former private detective and actor turned novelist, passed away on December 15 at age 76. He was best known for penning separate series about an ambulance-chasing New York City private investigator Stanley Hastings (Detective, A Fool for a Client) and ‘Puzzle Lady’ Cora Felton (Lights! Cameras! Puzzles!). In her obituary, Janet Rudolph remembers Hall as a “funny, supportive, musical, generous, and all around good guy. … Everyone loved him.” His most recent novel, Chasing Jack, was released by Brash Books in September. The Gumshoe Site says Hall died of COVID-19.”

I knew Parnell mostly through Bouchercons, but he was one of the sweetest, funniest and flat-out nicest writers I was ever lucky enough to meet. We played a lot of cards together, losing fairly consistently to others. Parnell was also a hell of a writer; and a gifted musician. He appears in my documentary Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane. As the Mick would say, Goodbye, buddy.

M.A.C.

Bargains and Raves!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Amazon has a bunch of my stuff on sale all through the month of December, starting with the entire Reeder and Rogers series ([Linking to Amazon: –Nate] Supreme Justice, Fate of the Union, Executive Order) in an offer that will be sent to select customers.

Everybody else gets an even better deal – all of the following are at .99-cents during December:
The Titanic Murders
The Hindenburg Murders
The Lusitania Murders
The Pearl Harbor Murders
The London Blitz Murders
The War of the Worlds Murder
What Doesn’t Kill Her
Midnight Haul
Girl Most Likely

This is the first time The Girl Most Likely has been offered at the .99-cent price. And Girl Can’t Help It is available for $1.99.

Just till the end of the month.

At the Rap Sheet, that stellar critic and pop culture expert J. Kingston Pierce has selected Do No Harm as one of his favorite crime-fiction books of the year. Normally I would just provide a link, but I want to brag a little:

Do No Harm, by Max Allan Collins (Forge):

In previous books, Chicago private eye Nate Heller reinvestigated some of the 20th century’s most notorious crimes, from the “presumed” murder of bank robber John Dillinger to the slaying of L.A.’s enigmatic “Black Dahlia.” So it’s no surprise that he should finally tackle the real-life case of Cleveland osteopath Sam Sheppard, charged with bludgeoning his wife to death in July 1954. As on television’s The Fugitive—supposedly inspired by this case—the accused here claimed innocence, insisting an intruder had offed his spouse. And in Do No Harm, Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner believes Sheppard … which is why he hires Heller to review the evidence, three years later. In so doing, Heller walks readers back through the bizarre, haunting circumstances of that homicide and its aftermath, raising doubts not only about Sheppard’s guilt but about the actions of authorities (and newspapers) that helped to promptly convict him. In addition to Gardner, “Untouchable” Eliot Ness and celebrity attorney F. Lee Bailey guest star in this inventive 17th Heller novel, one of the series’ finest entries—and that’s saying a hell of a lot.

Do No Harm cover

Kevin Burton Smith of the great Thrilling Detective web site selected Do No Harm as one of his favorite crime fiction novels of the year, and listed it (also at the Rap Sheet) but did not write about it. But I’m pleased just the same.

I should remind regular readers here that Do No Harm apparently will not get either a trade paperback or mass market reprint. So you’ll need to pick up the hardcover, which will likely go out of print (other than e-book) before too long.

Continuing to brag, I will share Ron Fortier’s wonderful review of Come Spy With Me at Pulp Fiction Reviews:

Come Spy With Me (Wolfpack)
Max Allan Collins with Matthew V. Clemens

Max Collins is one of those writers who is constantly surprising us. After decades of offering up great mystery and crime tales, he then had us cheering wildly for his western actioners courtesy of the late Mickey Spillane’s cowboy hero, Caleb York. Now comes super-spy James Bond’s clone, John Sand.

The setting is the early 60s and a British novelist has become famous by fictionalizing the exploits of M1-6’s operative, John Sand. Obviously with such notoriety, Sand’s effectiveness as an agent is compromised and as the story opens, he has retired and married the beautiful Stacey Boldt, the beautiful heiress to a Texas oil tycoon. If that sounds familiar, think George Lazenby and Diana Riggs, we certainly did. It is wish fulfillment ala what might have happened had she survived. This book takes us there and it’s a wonderful ride.

Sand is sincere in his desire to leave his dangerous career behind and pursue his new role as an executive in his wife’s business empire. This all goes awry when, while on a trip to Caribbean, he becomes entangled in a political assassination. Within days he’s summoned by President John F. Kennedy to a clandestine meeting in the desert of Utah where a Frank Sinatra western is being filmed. Kennedy suspects rogue agents of the C.I.A. are planning on assassinating Fidel Castro. After the disastrous failure of the Bay of Pigs, the last thing he wants is another embarrassing incident pointing back to the U.S. Reluctantly Sand agrees to go to Cuba and see if there is any validity to the President’s claims.

As always, Collins’ use of the time and culture are spot on and add so much to the rich texture of his narrative. Ultimately Sand uncovers an even greater threat and upon reporting to Kennedy, is once again manipulated into being the President’s personal secret agent. If that wasn’t enough of a headache, Stacey demands to tag along. If her husband is going to continue leading a double-life, then he is going to do it with her or else he can pack his bags and kiss their marriage sayonara.

If like us, you grew up reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond adventures, Come Spy With Me will feel like old home week. Not a bad way to kick off a new series, Mr. Collins & Clemens. Not bad at all.

Come Spy With Me cover
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Indiewire has a selection of books that its reviewers think should be TV series – and Nate Heller is on the list! Check this out….

This is Skyboat media hawking its own audio releases of Murder, My Love and Masquerade for Murder. But it’s a very nice job and you may get a kick out of it.

Once again, Supreme Justice has made a list of the best legal thrillers of all time.

Here’s The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and me at a bargain price (check out this entire website, for cool stuff.)

Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet gets a recommendation from Tony Isabella, whose blog is always fun and informative.

M.A.C.