Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

Short Cuts

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

I came to short stories late in my career. I had written a good number as a teenager and, in the Writers Workshop format at the University of Iowa, writing short stories was expected. But I didn’t submit anything professionally until the mid-1980s, and then almost always when I was invited. I believe the first professionally published short story was “The Strawberry Teardrop” (a Heller story) for a PWA anthology. I did allow several early things to be published in Hardboiled, back when my pal Wayne Dundee was the editor, but I don’t recall the exact time frame.

The limited number of markets discouraged me, and they still do. I tried Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine with “A Wreath for Marley,” but the editor turned it down as too long (and it’s a novella, so that’s valid) although claimed to like it. I sold a Heller story to them later – don’t recall which one – and since then, on the rare occasions I submit to EQMM, they haven’t turned anything down. This to me is a real honor. I’ve never submitted anything to Alfred Hitchcock, their sister magazine, simply because I have a good relationship with the editor at EQMM.

The response there to my submissions of Spillane/Collins short stories has been favorable – I did both “A Killer is on the Loose!” (from an unproduced Spillane radio play) and “The Big Run” (from an unproduced TV script by Mickey, done for Suspense). And now, for the first time, a Mike Hammer story appears in EQMM (the March/April 2021 issue) and the Spillane & Collins team has made the cover. [Amazon Link]

This, frankly, delights me.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine March/April 2021

We are the issue’s Black Mask Department story, and are the lead story, which is a thrill. And here is what editor Janet Hutchings says by way of introducing “Killer’s Alley,” adapted by me from a short Hammer film script:

“Although Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer stepped onto the crime-fiction scene in 1947, just six years after EQMM was founded, he’s never appeared in our pages. As we celebrated the magazine’s 80th year, it’s high time he joined EQMM’s panoply of iconic characters.”

One of the joys of being the keeper of the Spillane literary keys is to see how warmly he is now regarded. This is, frankly, a big deal, getting the EQMM seal of approval. Folks my age (and a few of us are still kicking) know how less than warm the reception was to Mickey and his success in the early ‘50s from a lot of critics and writers who should have known better, but were seized by a fit of jealousy.

Short stories have been on my mind of late, because I’ve been dealing with going over the galley proofs of two new collections of my short fiction, Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales and the forthcoming Suspense – His and Hers: Tales of Love and Murder. The latter, due out in September, is a follow-up to Murder – His and Hers, and again collects stories written individually by Barb and me, and together.

Assembling these has not been without speed bumps. Wolfpack has been incredibly supportive, bringing out much of my remaining back list – the four Eliot Ness novels, the two Mommy novels, and Shoot the Moon, though I haven’t seen a physical copy of that yet. They will be bringing out Regeneration and Bombshell by Barb and me, stand-alone novels.

Already they have Murderlized (by Matt Clemens and me, a new collection I’ve very proud of) and the existing collections, Blue Christmas and Murder – His and Hers. Barb’s Too Many Tomcats is out, too, with an intro and a co-written story by me.

Again, there have been problems. I think Wolfpack’s covers are great, but I’ve had copy-editing problems; but editor Paul Bishop has been patient with my fussiness with both Reincarnal and Suspense – His and Hers. Not every problem can be blamed on copy editors, though. These stories span something like 37 years, and each tale is a file, sometimes going back to (ready for this?) WordStar days. So what we delivered sometimes had glitches I hadn’t caught. A typical problem was that, for a long time, editors wanted italics indicated by underlining; maybe a decade ago, they switched to wanting italics indicated by, yes, italics.

And Wolfpack had to get a bunch of my books out all at once. Reincarnal has a problem that a number of you have pointed out – the table of contents page is messed up. One story is not included and the numbering is wrong. I missed this. I frankly never thought to check the table of contents.

The nice thing about the e-book age is that we can correct things like that. So anyone ordering Reincarnal now, whether e-book or physical book, will have a corrected table of contents. The rest of you – well, what do you know? You own a collector’s item!

Seriously, though, folks – if you catch a typo in anything of mine, whichever of my publishers has put it out, let me know at macphilms@hotmail.com. We will at the very least be able to correct the e-book version.

Barb, by the way, has been a natural from the start where short stories are concerned. She grew up on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone and developed a real feel for a compact form with a twist ending. From the start she got great reviews and reactions for her stories, including getting slots in “best of the year” anthologies. For her, novel-writing was a stretch, but she has adapted beautifully. Nonetheless, her touch with the short form remains a strength – we have a story together (conceived by her) in – yes! – an upcoming issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

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Deadly Anniversaries Ebook Cover

I am pleased to share with you something from another of my favorite newsstand publications, Mystery Scene. The great Jon Breen included Do No Harm in an article about recent legal thrillers; a lovely color reproduction of the cover of this latest Heller novel accompanied it.

“Max Allan Collins’s excellent series about Zelig-like private eye Nate Heller fictionalizes major crimes of the past century. Occasionally, Heller drops in on classic trials, perhaps most notably in Damned in Paradise(1996), featuring a complexly characterized Clarence Darrow appearing for the defense in a 1932 Honolulu rape case. The latest in the series, Do No Harm (Forge), considers the murder of Marilyn Sheppard for which her husband Dr. Sam Sheppard, a Cleveland osteopath, was tried and convicted in 1954 and retried in 1966, this time with famed advocate F. Lee Bailey heading the defense. Both trails are visited in a total of about a dozen pages, the first summarized to Heller by newspaper columnist Flo Kilgore (a transparent pseudonym for Dorothy Kilgallen), the second viewed by Heller and including some well-selected quotes from Bailey’s cross-examinations. All the real people in the cast – Bailey, Kilgore/Kilgallen, Erle Stanley Gardner, Eliot Ness, and especially Sam Sheppard himself – come to life as convincing fictional characters. As usual, Collins’ concluding author’s note provides a bibliographic essay on his sources to make the fact/fiction demarcation clear.”

Getting back to short fiction, a story that I consider one of my best – “Amazing Grace” – appears in the MWA anthology, Deadly Anniversaries. It’s on sale now in e-book form for under two bucks, right here.

Here is an absolutely stellar Come Spy With Me review at Bookgasm.

Here’s a mixed but smart review, mostly favorable, of Skim Deep. But for the last effin time, it’s Nolan, not Frank Nolan. He has never been Frank Nolan. Stop it already.

Finally, here’s a nice if belated (but appreciated) UK review of Girl Most Likely.

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.

New Horror and Dark Suspense Antho from Wolfpack

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
Book cover for Reincarnal and Other Dark Tales
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

In about a week, my latest Wolfpack release – Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales – will be available on Kindle, and shortly thereafter as a physical book.

When I have copies of the trade paperback, I will announce a book giveaway here. For those that haven’t noticed, this update/blog has a new post every Tuesday morning. [10 Eastern/9 Central unless I mess something up. –Nate] So check in – they go fast.

Obviously, Wolfpack has provided me with another outstanding cover. I continue to be delighted by what they come up with. I realize some of you may be overwhelmed by how much of my material Wolfpack has unleashed upon an unsuspecting world pretty much all at once. Publisher Mike Bray and editor Paul Bishop were good enough to take on virtually all of my remaining backlist, as those who come here regularly know. Nine of these books are novels, but the others are anthologies. Of those anthologies, only three (including a forthcoming one by Barb and me, Suspense – His and Hers) are new collections…new books.

Reincarnal is one of them.

It’s a special one for me, because it collects virtually all of my horror short stories. In addition, the book includes two radio plays that I wrote for Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories: “House of Blood” and “Mercy.” I adapted a number of the yarns in the collection for Dreadtime Stories, but the two radio plays were original to the series.

While I’ve spent most of my career writing suspense and crime fiction, the horror genre has been an interest since childhood, undoubtedly having to do with watching old monster movies on TV. In Reincarnal, you meet the big three: Frankenstein’s monster, a werewolf, and more than one vampire.

Some of the stories are more in a “dark suspense” vein, though the majority have a supernatural element. And they have another element that may either please or not please you: this is definitely a “parental advisory” type book. Several stories were originally written for the famous Hot Blood and Shock Rock series, whose co-editor Jeff Gelb was my co-editor on Flesh and Blood. The format of those anthologies was to combine horror with an erotic element.

I mention this because – much to my surprise – in recent years some readers are offended by sexual content, and many of you are undoubtedly saying, “Boy, did they sign up with the wrong writer.” In re-reading the stories, I realized that changing times and attitudes are reflected therein, but I made no edits to bring them up to date. They were written over a thirty-year period and, like Popeye, yam what they yam.

But also in re-reading the stories I discovered that some of these dark tales are among my best work. I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better story of mine than “Traces of Red,” for example. “Reincarnal,” the lead story, was much praised at the time of its original publication, and I adapted it into a screenplay. That project still rears its head now and then. “Interstate 666″ was written originally as a screenplay, and the story herein is actually a condensed version. It came very close to being made as a TV pilot (one iteration involving Rob Zombie!).

Both radio plays in the new collection were conceived in hopes of movie production and they too are not yet off the table in that regard. Those stories are collected in audio anthologies available at Amazon and elsewhere. Producer Carl Amari did a great job on them.

My interest in horror should come as no surprise to my regular readers, even though they may missed the stories collected in Reincarnal when originally published. Such novels of mine as Butcher’s Dozen, Angel in Black, and What Doesn’t Kill Her, as well as the two J.C. Harrow novels by Matt Clemens and me, are in part horror novels. So is Regeneration by Barb and me (a new edition is coming from Wolfpack).

Speaking of which, let me get back to Wolfpack. You supporting my efforts there by ordering Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales and the John Sand novel, Come Spy With Me, paves the way for me to do new novels in various series that have run their course at other publishers. When fans ask a writer, are you ever going to do another novel about such-and-such a favorite character, the true answer is: it’s not up to the authors. We need publishers who believe in us, and frankly most publishers want the next big thing, not the last modestly successful thing.

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We lost Parnell Hall recently, and the parade of hurtful losses to the mystery genre continues. The great John Lutz of Single White Female fame is gone.

outdoor portrait of author John Lutz wearing a black shirt and jacket.

This from Janet Rudolph:

John Lutz: 1939-2021.

I was lucky to know John Lutz over the years. John wrote over 50 novels of political suspense, private eye novels, urban suspense, humor, occult, caper, police procedural, espionage, historical, futuristic, amateur sleuth, thriller — just about every mystery sub-genre. He also wrote over 200 short stories and articles. John was a past president of both Mystery Writers of America and Private Eye Writers of America. Among his awards were the MWA Edgar, the PWA Shamus, The Trophee 813 Award for best mystery short story collection translated into the French language, the PWA Life Achievement Award, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Golden Derringer Lifetime Achievement Award. And, he was a kind, supportive, and generous man. He’ll be missed.

I knew John well, and Barb and I know his wonderful wife Barbara, too. John was a terrific writer and also displayed a dry wit second to none. For many years, John was a welcome, low-key presence at Bouchercon, one of those friends I saw almost exclusively in that manner. He was shy and modest, but that sense of humor came through, or I should say sneaked up on you.

This one hurts.

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This mind-bogglingly wonderful review of Skim Deep is at Book Reporter. Please feast your eyes upon it.

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.