Posts Tagged ‘Ms. Tree’

Ms. Tree Comes out of the (Skeleton) Closet

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet
Paperback:
E-Book:

I have not seen a copy yet, but this update will appear on publication day of Ms. Tree Vol. 2: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

It reprints in color the rest of the DC comics run from the early ‘90s, and is essentially a casebook – five graphic novellas often dealing with controversial subject matter (gay bashing, date rape, etc.) that unfortunately hasn’t dated at all. There’s also a flat-out horror tale that reveals the roots of the Collins/Beatty team in EC Comics.

I am thrilled that Titan is publishing these books, finally getting all the work Terry and I – influential work, I will immodestly say – in a more permanent form.

This is some of our best work. Volume Three will start at the beginning and the subsequent volumes will continue in the order of original publication.

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For the first time, every person who entered one of my book giveaways – this one for Too Many Tomcats and the Eliot Ness novels – got a book. While that pleases me, it makes me wonder if I’m having too many of these and wearing you people down…particularly those of you who’ve entered and never been rewarded with a book.

The problem is that Wolfpack has been generous enough to put a whole passel of my books out over a short period of time, including Murderlized, a new one. So I don’t mean to swamp you, although it’s important to get reviews for these books out there, including the reprints. Which is the point of the giveaways – to prime the review pump. Well, Amazon Prime the review pump.

The Wolfpack e-book versions have been made available a bit before the trade paperback editions, at times; but I have received copies of most of the books by now and they are beauties. And I am very favorably impressed with the level of the Wolfpack covers. Murderlized is wonderful. So is Too Many Tomcats. And Mommy (while somewhat re-fried as Mommy’s Day) blows me away.

We have new editions coming of Regeneration and Bombshell, the two stand-alone collaborations by Barb and me, and I’m stoked to see what kind of covers Wolfpack whips up with for those.

But the most important Wolfpack release will come in December – Come Spy With Me, the first in the new series by Matthew Clemens and me. It’s set in the early ‘60s and is an unabashed homage to Ian Fleming and the Connery-era Bond films, and the whole spy craze of my youth. Matt and I are going over the galley proofs now, and we have seen the cover, which I hope to share with you soon – it’s a beauty.

I’ve made a huge investment of time and property (in the sense that my backlist titles and short story collections are properties) in Wolfpack. If those of you who enjoy my fiction in general support those efforts, Wolfpack is the rare company that will let me do what I want creatively. A series that other publishers consider “busted” I can write a new entry for. There could be a new Mallory or Disaster Novel or Jack & Maggie Starr. We are seriously considering doing Reeder & Rogers at Wolfpack and Krista Larson, too. If we have some success, Spillane material will appear there.

Consider Quarry. Quarry as a crime novel series had been dead commercially for decades. But editor Charles Ardai, the guru of Hard Case Crime, encouraged me to write a new Quarry novel many years later. No other publisher would have done that. And it has led to many new Quarry novels, an award-winning short film, a feature film, and a Cinemax TV series.

Not long ago Charles encouraged me to write a new Nolan novel. Nolan also has been “dead” for decades, but Charles liked the series and wanted a new one. Now we are looking seriously at Nolan for a TV series on a streaming service (early days, of course, and these things often tank, but…we’re talking about a series I started in 1973). And Hard Case is bringing all of the Nolan novels out again (two to a book). There will also be audios of them read by the great Stefan Rudnicki.

The new Nolan, Skim Deep, will be out the first week of December.

The support you continue to show the work that I produce, my own and the collaborations, means a great deal.

Thank you.

* * *

Here’s a very interesting look at Quarry, the novel of that title, expressing some interesting insights, as well as some thoughts on the Cinemax series.

This is one of several previews of the second Ms. Tree collection, Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet from Titan.

Scroll down at this entry at the entertaining Atomic Junkshop and see a brief but very strong review of Murderlized by Matt Clemens and me – and a great look at the wonderful cover provided by Wolfpack.

This article presents the Nathan Heller novels in order of publication (includes the short story collection and the novella collection) with nice thumbnails on each. Whether this is the best order to read them in, I can’t say. But I did write them in that order, so it makes sense in terms of following my growth (or decline!) over the years.

M.A.C.

Wolfpack Giveaway #2 – Untouchable Cats

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

I am in the middle of the third of the three novellas I’m doing about a brand-new character (stay tuned) for Neo-Text. So I will try to distract you for the lack of a real blog entry this week with the second Wolfpack book giveaway.

Too Many Tomcats Wolfpack Edition

I have four trade-paperback copies of Too Many Tomcats, my wife Barb’s terrific collection of tales about evil, dead and stuffed felines. I co-authored a couple and wrote the intro. If you are a hold-out among my readers who has avoided reading Barb’s work and/or our collaborative work, now is your chance to finally get wise.

Barb’s short stories are in the vein of the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show and Roald Dahl, and she’s been compared to both (and not just by me!).

In addition, I have two copies each of the four Eliot Ness trade paperbacks – The Dark City, Butcher’s Dozen, Bullet Proof, and Murder by the Numbers.

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! — Nate]

This is for USA only – mailing overseas and even to just Canada was expensive before the Pandemic.

Here’s the important part – this isn’t really about free books. It’s about getting reviews on Amazon and/or at your own review site, if you have one. Most of you participating in these book giveaways have been good about doing those reviews. But please hold up your end of the bargain.

Eliot Ness Saga, Wolfpack Edition
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Here is a video interview wherein my pal Andrew Sumner talks to me about Ms. Tree, and specifically about the soon-to-be-published second Ms. Tree collection, Skeleton in the Closet.

And here is the appearance (via Zoom) by my co-author A. Brad Schwartz and I at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas in support of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher. Includes a power point presentation! Excited?

Finally, here is a nice look at Road to Perdition as Tom Hanks’ most under-rated movie.

M.A.C.

R.I.P. Emma Peel…and a Wolfpack Spy Revealed

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

I am, obviously, at that age when the icons of my youth are going on ahead of me into whatever lies ahead. Emma Peel is gone. Not at all forgotten.

Still, losing Diana Rigg at 82 sounds much too soon – she was still displaying her considerable acting skills and powers of personality in Victoria and the forthcoming Black Narcissus.

The British Invasion was the Big Thing when I was in high school, and that of course immediately brings to mind the Beatles and their fellow rock ‘n’ roll invaders. But the British Invasion was also James Bond, and the Spy Craze – even The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was an Ian Fleming brainchild (thought that fact has been lost in the shuffle a bit). Sometimes the rock aspect collided with the spy craze, as when Johnny Rivers did the theme song for Secret Agent (as the Brit Danger Man was retitled for USA consumption). And would Michael Caine’s career have gotten its jump start if Harry Palmer hadn’t brought John Lennon to mind in The Ipcress File (1965)?

From the UK came the greatest of Spy Craze TV series, The Avengers (well, let’s call it a tie with The Prisoner). Emma Peel’s predecessor – as the black catsuit-clad partner of bowler-and-bumbershoot-sporting John Steed, portrayed by urbane Patrick Macnee – was Cathy Gale. The original distaff martial-arts Avenger (to “boys” my age, those Marvel Avengers should be called the Pretenders) was Honor Blackman, whose final curtain call preceded Diana Rigg’s by just a few months.

The Bond connections are many. Honor Blackman was (could anyone reading this really not know) Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964); and Patrick Macnee was James Bond’s Lordly sidekick in the Roger Moore entry, View to a Kill (1985). Macnee was not, as some would have, the cousin of (sort of) James Bond, David Niven (Casino Royale, 1965), though the two actors did appear together in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950).

Most significantly, Diana Rigg portrayed Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), and became not just the love of Bond’s life but his wife, albeit briefly. The former Emma Peel was, not surprisingly, appealing in the role and her presence shored up the place-holder presence of George Lazenby as Bond in what was the greatest James Bond movie Sean Connery never made.

Diana Rigg was an accomplished and much-lauded screen actress, and I won’t go into all of her remarkable list of credits here. I’ll mention only my favorite performance by her, after Emma Peel and Tracy di Vicenzo, which is Arlena Stuart Marshall in Evil Under the Sun (1982), the best of the big screen Poirot movies (feel free to disagree, but do so knowing I’m not listening).

What is significant about Diana Rigg, it seems to me, is how she managed to be an actress of incredible sex appeal and at the same time convey an undeniable, even intimidating intelligence, at a time (the first Bond era, remember) when “birds” were mostly mini-skirts, eye make-up, and lots of teased hair. She could even smirk with intelligence, and the way she and The Avengers spoofed the inherently absurd spy fad gave the series its special zing. Her range as an actress is astonishing. I always had a sense that she wanted to give the audience her best, but if they didn’t like it, that was their problem.

So it is with a bittersweet smile, and a gathering sense of my own mortality, that I blow a kiss goodbye to Emma Peel, knowing that she and Diana Rigg will live forever.

Now, hoping it’s not a display of bad taste, I will segue into finally announcing the series that Matt Clemens and I are doing for Wolfpack. You’ll see the connection in a moment, or perhaps as soon as you hear the title of the first novel: Come Spy With Me.

Matt and I created the lead characters and developed the premise for the series twenty years ago in a couple of little seen short stories. John Sand is a recently retired British secret agent whose cover was blown world-wide when a famous series of novels by an ex-spy colleague of his became best sellers. The stories – at least the trilogy we have agreed to produce – take place in the, shall we say, Swinging Sixties.

John Sand has married a wealthy young woman named Stacey and, in Come Spy With Me, we join them on their honeymoon, where if we had any sense of propriety we wouldn’t witness their carnal conduct. I’ll leave it to you to decide how much propriety Matt Clemens and I have.

But not to worry. The mushy stuff is temporary – carnal gives way to carnage soon enough, and John Sand is as hard-edged a man of action as, well, the famous fictional spy that was based on him.

The name “Sand,” by the way, is a very much conscious tip of the jaunty ‘60s cap to the mono-named lead of Ennis Willie’s series of novels written in that era, which influenced me almost as much as Mickey Spillane, Richard Stark, and Ian Fleming.

You will hear more about this series as the weeks progress – the first book will, as I’ve indicated, be out well before the end of the year. We’ll have a cover to show you before too very long.

When Matt and I discussed getting an advance blurb from an appropriate author, only one name came to mind: Raymond Benson, author of officially licensed James Bond novels (and short stories and video games) and the landmark The James Bond Bedside Companion. Raymond is also the author of the Black Stiletto novels and Hotel Destiny – A Ghost Noir.

Raymond was gracious enough to look at Come Spy With Me in manuscript, and this is what he says:

Come Spy With Me is a heck of a ride! The characters are smooth, the real-world cameos are fun, the action is electric, and the sex is rightly retro. This homage to Mr. Fleming, Mr. Bond, and all the other pulp spy thrillers of the 1960s will leave you craving for the next installment!”

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This is a lovely review of the forthcoming second Ms. Tree collection from Titan – Skeleton in the Closet.

Here is a compendium of reviews of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher, mostly very good.

My co-author, A. Brad Schwartz and I, will be discussing Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher next Sunday, September 20, at 1 pm Central. Join us with your own questions.

M.A.C.

Murder – His and Hers, Venturing Out & Tracy One Last Time

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
Murder - His & Hers
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

On September 2, Wolfpack’s new Kindle edition of Murder – His and Hers will be available at Amazon.

This collection was previously only an expensive hardcover by Five Star. This new edition will be followed soon by Too Many Tomcats, and before too very long a companion volume, Suspense – His and Hers.

These books collect short stories that Barb and I have written together as well as some written by us individually. Too Many Tomcats, which I edited, is mostly Barb’s solo stories, but all of these will be marketed as by “Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins.” Wolfpack wants to focus the books as part of their M.A.C. publishing program, so don’t think it’s my ego run (further) amok.

I am hoping that Wolfpack will eventually be publishing our the two collaborative novels, Regeneration and Bombshell, that preceded the long-running Antiques series of mysteries. Those, our first two novels together, were originally published under both our names and later, by Thomas & Mercer, as by “Barbara Allan.” We’re reverting to a joint byline for marketing purposes. All of these will soon be available in print editions (stay tuned).

We also have a collaborative short story coming out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, though we haven’t been told in what issue yet – “What’s Wrong with Harley Quinn?” – set at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, which seems like a very long time ago and a different world now. (I also sold a collaborative Spillane/Collins story to EQMM – “Killer’s Alley,” which will be the first Mike Hammer story ever published in those pages; naturally, it will be in their Black Mask section. Barb and I are both thrilled to be contributers to EQMM.)

My bride and I have been writing together for a long time. The process is similar to the one Matt Clemens and I use, although I don’t sleep with Matt, a situation he and I are both fine with. One difference is that I tend to come up with the initial idea when writing with Matt. Usually Barb comes up with the initial idea. Then she and I plot the story together, she writes the rough draft, and I do the second draft. It’s the same for both short stories and novels.

Tomorrow (Monday, as I write this) I will begin work on the new Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery novel – Antiques Carry On. Barb has completed her draft and I will start in, revising and expanding (she has given me 250 double-spaced pages and I will write 300 to 350 double-spaced pages). The only unusual factor this time is that I’ve already done my draft (from hers) of the first three chapters. That was necessary because we moved to a new publisher and needed to provide a substantial finished sample of the book to that publisher in the effort to land a contract.

We fully intend to keep going with the series, but we are at a funny (odd) juncture, which I trust is one many mystery writers with long-running series are experiencing. In plotting the next book, do we set it pre-pandemic or post-pandemic, or even during pandemic? The problem with post-pandemic, of course, is that none of us know what that will look like.

For seniors like us – and I have underlying health issues that magnify the situation – even a post-pandemic world will be tricky. Maybe it’s already occurred to you that you may have eaten at your last buffet. Or that how (or even if) you go out to the movies will be radically different.

Today, suffering from almost six months of cabin fever, we ventured tentatively out. Prior to Covid-19 we almost always took a day off every week that included going to either the nearby Quad Cities or Iowa City/Cedar Rapids for shopping, dining and sometimes a movie. We also have a nice movie theater here in Muscatine, and often took in films there – you may remember how often I did little movie reviews here back in the Good Old Days.

Since then, trips out for groceries and meds have been about it. I’ve cancelled doctor’s appointments and – although going to the local hospital for blood work – have had my consultations over the phone. We have been essentially sheltering in place since fairly early March.

But today we drove to the Quad Cities. We went through the drive-through at Portillo’s and got delicious food, which we ate in the car. We went briefly into the Davenport Books-a-Million, where masks are required and where the filled parking lot places were fairly sparse, and shopped a little and used the restroom (carefully) and drove home. An outing. An honest-to-God outing. On the way home we took the river road, which is scenic as hell and includes the quarry that Quarry was named after. We were listening to the audiobook of Quarry’s Ex read by the fabulous Stefan Rudnicki, so it was fitting.

In terms of what we used to do, it was kind of pitiful. After six months of sheltering, it was fabulous.

I don’t feel like we took any risks worse than our weekly grocery run. I know a lot of seniors get their groceries delivered, or pull up outside the supermarket for curbside service. But I rather pathetically look forward to a weekly grocery run – it’s early morning (we get up at six a.m. to make it there by seven) and it’s worth it, because the music is oldies, not country western, which you may have noticed I despise. The joy of hearing Bobby Rydell singing “Wild One” or Bobby Darin doing “Things” while I look for mini-cans of Coke Zero is difficult for me to articulate.

Meds we get going through a drive-up.

Also, I have a new appreciation for McDonald’s and Burger King.

So. What world will Barb and I write about when we do the next book about Brandy and Vivian Borne, if we’re lucky enough to get to keep going (as writers and as living breathing human beings)? How much zany laughter does a pandemic produce, anyway? I am planning to write a new Krista and Keith Larson novel – should I set it during the pandemic? Would that be interesting? Or will this be a period that no one will want to re-live? Yes, we look at movies made during the Depression, but mostly they are full of guys in tuxes and gals in ballgowns, or maybe Toby Wing wearing nothing but a great big dime.

And why is anybody still on the planet who would make a Toby Wing reference?

And yet the beat goes on.

* * *

This past week found me finishing up the second novella in the new series I’m doing for Neotext – more about that soon – and cleaning my office and dealing with copy-edited manuscripts and clearing my desk of smaller projects before I dive into Antiques Carry On.

One of those projects is writing the introduction to the 29th volume of The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy for IDW. I have written introductions to the previous 28 volumes, too.

And now, with Intro 29, I will have written about the entire run of Chester Gould’s Tracy. This volume ends immediately before my fifteen-year tenure begins. Writing about the last, less than stellar year and a half or so of Chet’s work – though that work definitely has its rewards – was a bittersweet experience. My intro gets personal, as during this period my pal Matt Masterson and I were, every six months or so, getting together with Chet at his Tribune Tower office and dining at the prestigious Tavern Club for lunch. On the first such visit, I met my future collaborator, Rick Fletcher. At the time I had no idea that I would be the second writer on this great, important comic strip.

So writing this final intro was indeed a bittersweet thing. Like this damn pandemic, it was gave me a real sense of my mortality – although once you’ve had open heart surgery, your mortality’s on your mind quite a bit, actually. Like – am I dying, or is that just gas? When I first met Chester Gould, he was 72. My age now.

I hope you Tracy fans are taking the time to read my little introductory essays, which I think are pretty good. And fans of mine who haven’t been collecting these Tracy volumes ought to start – but not with the last one. Try something from the ‘40s or early ‘50s and see just how good Chester Gould was at his peak.

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Here’s a nice review of Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother. Scroll down for it.

And here’s a Quarry’s Choice review. Again, scroll down for it. This may be my favorite Quarry novel – definitely my favorite “list” book.

M.A.C.