Posts Tagged ‘The Big Bundle’

Thankful for Nathan Heller

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

I have completed Too Many Bullets, the next Nate Heller novel, with the exception of my final read-through doing corrections and tweaks. That will take much of the week, particularly since Thanksgiving is in there.

And I am certainly thankful to have finished it. My health was sketchy throughout much of the process, but I seem to be back to normal now, thanks to my general practitioner being on top of things, adjusting meds and such.

I began the writing of the book around the start of September. I’m actually surprised it went that quickly – it will be about three months when I wrap up the corrections, which for a 400-page (double-spaced) manuscript is a decent pace. I thought my health issues – the A-fib stuff, which included two cardioversions – would have slowed me down. But in retrospect I can see that I felt my best and the most myself when the work was distracting me.

On the other hand, I seem to have spent the previous three months researching the book. I didn’t have George Hagenauer helping me this time, so the process where he and I would divide up the reading and then discuss it as we go was not in the mix. I have never worked harder on research. The books were gathered, but the number of biographies of RFK and the stack of books about the assassination were daunting. I was determined to be really well-organized this time, so when I’d finished enough of the research to write a working synopsis – broken into chapters, about a half a page to a page per chapter – I went through my filled notebook of the research and annotated each chapter break-down with the page number in the research book, so I’d know where to find what I need writing that chapter.

In addition to that, I wound up filling three notebooks – this is more than any previous Heller – and I had a lot of on-the-fly Internet research, too, particularly on locations, everything from defunct restaurants to Griffith park to Caesars Palace and the Classic Cat strip joint in LA.

I feel good about each chapter but have my usual fear that when I read the book as a whole, they may not cohere. This has never happened but I always I’m afraid it might.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my original plan for this novel was far different from what it became. It was going to focus on the 1950s Heller/Hoffa story (often referred to in other Heller entries) with the RFK assassination an envelope that would take up around 100 pages, 150 at most. But as I researched the Sirhan Sirhan case, I realized I had a tiger by the tail and this new version has the Hoffa story jettisoned, perhaps to be handled next time, but this time with Hoffa barely mentioned at all.

The other factor was that my synopsis for the novel, the chapter breakdown I mentioned, included a B-plot and a return of mad doc Dr. Gottlieb from Better Dead, who in fact turned up in the history. But the B-plot would have weighed things down, and – coming along in the final third – be a distraction; and Gottlieb’s presence just over-complicated matters.

In fact, I did more composite characters than usual, too, in an effort to keep things moving and doing so smoothly. If this book is good – and I think there’s a chance it will be among the best Heller novels – it will mean I’ve mastered this difficult process of my own creation. It’s only taken three and a half decades.

I am sharing the cover with you, even though you haven’t even been able to lay hands on the previous Heller, The Big Bundle – the new Heller in terms of publishing.

Too Many Bullets cover

The Big Bundle is a book I am very proud of, and I am frankly pleased that it is so different from the novel I just completed. It’s a point of pride to me that no two Heller novels are alike. The Big Bundle was designed to be “right” for Hard Case Crime – to have traditional noir elements that would introduce Hard Case Crime readers unfamiliar with the Heller books to what I’m up to in a way that would be user friendly. In a sense, I wanted The Big Bundle to be a strong example of a traditional private eye novel while hitting the notes that are unique to Heller. It is a change of pace, of sorts, as the crime itself is not a familiar one to most (though it was incredibly famous at the time).

My hope is that following up with the very different Too Many Bullets – with an extremely famous crime at its center – will demonstrate to new readers, and remind longtime readers, exactly what it is I’m up to.

The needle I’m trying to thread is keeping the Hard Case Crime readers interested when they have entered my domain by way of Quarry, mostly. I love doing Quarry and the novels are much more fun to do than Heller, which is a brutal damn process. But I know that my best work, my most important work (if any of it is important), is the Heller memoirs.

I have had to struggle to keep doing them. It’s unusual that I’ve been able to keep Heller alive at various publishing houses – in my time in this field, it’s become obvious that nothing is harder than moving a series to a new house. And if you manage it, you manage it once. I’ve managed it five times.

No question about it. I am a stubborn mofo. It is my hope, even my dream, for the Heller novels to be recognized in the upper echelon of private eye fiction, alongside Hammett, Chandler and Spillane. That hasn’t happened yet and it may not happen in my lifetime, but I am gambling my time and energy – and to some degree my income-earning ability – on these novels.

Possibly I’m a fool. (Possibly?!?!) I always think of Conan Doyle, who felt Sherlock Holmes was a trifle and that his historical novels would be his enduring legacy. He was wrong and I may be wrong, but neither of us would have done it any differently.

* * *

This is the Thanksgiving edition of my weekly update/blog. I am thankful for a lot of things – my health, my family, but also my readers. I am thankful for you.

* * *

It’s a tragedy for the mystery field to lose Mystery Scene, a truly great magazine founded by my late friend (and much missed) Ed Gorman, and continued with flair by Kate Stine.

Read my thoughts on the subject and those of others right here.

The Big Bundle audiobook cover
Digital Audiobook:

You can pre-order the audio of The Big Bundle here. It seems to be read by the great Dan John Miller, though I haven’t had that confirmed (Audible thinks it is, anyway).

Here is another strong review of the I, the Jury Blu-ray/4K/3d release.

And another.

M.A.C.

Upcoming Titles, A Recommendation & A Couple Warnings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022
Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction cover

I have received a handful of ARCs of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, the upcoming biography of Mickey by Jim Traylor and me. It’s a thing of beauty! Mysterious Press did an outstanding job with the packaging. I will soon be doing a book giveaway for a few copies (possibly five) of this trade paperback version of what will be available in hardcover on (note new pub date) Feb. 7, 2023.

The new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, is delayed, a fact that has dismayed some readers. But the book exists and is in fact a December 2022 title…it’s just held up at the UK docks by a strike. It will be available on Dec. 6 on e-book.

Better news for those dying to read something by yours truly – the first Kindle boxed set from Wolfpack of my work, Max Allan Collins Collection Vol. One: Eliot Ness is a Kindle Deal running from Wednesday, November 30 to Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The price will be dropping from $3.99 to $0.99 during that time period. That’s a quarter a book, which is what I used to pay for new paperbacks when I was in junior high. This is all four of the Eliot Ness in Cleveland novels (Nate Heller guests in two of ‘em).

A Big Bundle book giveaway is coming soon, too. Remember, if you get the novel prior to its publication date (some of you received it via NetGalley), your review can’t appear till we hit that date.

I am working now on the final chapters of the next Heller, Too Many Bullets, about the RFK assassination. It’s a big book, on the lines of True Detective, and in a sense it’s the bookend to that first Heller memoir. It’s been very difficult, in part because of my health issues (doing better, thanks) but also because it’s one of the most complicated cases I’ve dealt with. It has required more time compression and composite characters than I usually employ, and I spend a lot of time discussing with Barb what’s fair and what isn’t fair in an historical novel. I’ve been writing those since 1981 and I still wrestle with that question.

Also, there has been replotting, which is not unusual in the final section of a Heller as the need to tighten up the narrative frequently means a sub-plot gets jettisoned, particularly one that doesn’t rear its head till the last hundred pages.

But I’ll tell you what’s really unfair: using Barb as a sounding board when she’s working on her own draft of the next Antiques novel (Antiques Foe).

I am also wrestling with (and I’ve mentioned this before in these updates) how long I should to stay at it with Heller. The degree of difficulty (as I’ve also mentioned before) is tough at this age. Right now I am considering a kind of coda novel (much like Skim Deep for Nolan and Quarry’s Blood for Quarry) that would wrap things up. The Hoffa story still needs a complete telling.

Should I go that direction, and should my health and degree of interest continue on a positive course, I might do an occasional Heller in a somewhat shorter format. Of course, the problem with that is these crimes are always more complex than I think they’re going to be. I thought The Big Bundle would be an ideal lean-and-mean hardboiled PI novel, perfect for Heller’s debut at Hard Case Crime. But the complexities of a real crime like the Greenlease kidnapping tripped me up. On the other hand, the book – probably a third longer than I’d imagined – came out very well. In my view, anyway.

And with Too Many Bullets, I thought the RFK killing would make a kind of envelope around the Hoffa story, maybe a hundred, hundred-fifty pages of material.

Wrong.

* * *

Last week I recorded (with Phil Dingeldein) the commentary of ClassicFlix’s upcoming widescreen release of The Long Wait, based on Mickey Spillane’s 1951 non-Hammer bestseller. I like the commentary better than my I, the Jury one and have been astonished by just how good I think both the film of I, the Jury and The Long Wait are, since I was used to seeing them in cropped, dubby VHS gray-market versions (and because Mickey himself hated them). Widescreen makes all the difference on Long Wait, and Anthony Quinn is a wonderful Spillane hardboiled hero.

I will report here on when the Blu-ray/4K release is scheduled. It won’t be as pricey as I, the Jury because the 3-D factor is absent.

* * *
Millie Bobbie Brown in Enola Holmes 2

Living under a rock as I do, I had somehow missed the fact that the Enola Holmes movies (there are two, one quite recent, both on Netflix) starred the talented Millie Bobbie Brown of Stranger Things. I also got it into my head that these were kid movies. Wrong again!

These are two excellent, quirky Sherlock Holmes movies, with Henry Cavill excellent as the young Holmes, and very tough films despite a light-hearted touch manifested by Enola (Brown, absolutely wonderful) breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. It’s tricky and charming, and reminiscent – but actually kind of superior – to the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies.

Do not miss these.

Here’s one you can miss: Lou. A lesser Netflix flick, it stars the excellent Allison Janney and starts fairly well, but devolves into ridiculous plot twists and makes a bait-and-switch out of the entire movie.

Also, I have made it clear here that I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, particularly starting with Inglorious Bastards – prior to that, the self-conscious references to his favorite films were too on the nose for my taste, although I revisited them after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a masterpiece) and had less trouble.

I don’t usually criticize other writers, but after trying to read his new book I am convinced Tarantino needs to stick to film, where he colors wildly but within the lines.

His Cinema Speculation is opinionated blather about ‘70s and ‘80s films that reminds us that Tarantino once worked at a video store. This is absolutely the kind of stuff a motormouth, know-it-all video clerk used to put us through when we were just trying to rent the damn movie.

* * *

This is a re-edit of an interview I gave to the Des Moines Register back in 2016 (I think). It’s not bad.

And here you can see a much younger me (and Chet Gould and Rick Fletcher) on the occasion of Dick Tracy’s 50th birthday.

M.A.C.

Physical Media Lives – Sort Of

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

A couple more great reviews for The Big Bundle have come in.

Big Bundle Cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Kobo Google Play
Digital Audiobook:

This is from the DIS/MEMBER web site:

The Big Bundle
by Max Allan Collins

“What kind of world are we living in, Nate?” “A world where men like us can get ahead, Bob. Can make a nice life for ourselves and our families. But it’s also one where men of envy and greed and stupidity and flat-out evil are ready and willing to take everything away.”

The President of Chicago’s A-1 Detective Agency makes his grand Hard Case Crime debut in The Big Bundle. The latest from living, breathing noir encyclopedia and prolific genre staple Max Allan Collins.

The year is 1953 and six-year-old Bobby Greenlease, son of Kansas City Cadillac magnate Robert Greenlease, has been kidnapped. Following a series of cartoonish attempts to ransom the boy, Chicago detective Nathan Heller is called to K.C. Having been appealed to by the boy’s desperate family and hired on as one of the many caseworkers, both local and federal, drawn into the crime.

But what starts as a kidnapping quickly spirals into something much, much more complex. Pitting Heller against crooked Teamsters, thuggish cabbies, out-of-luck bent cops, and Robert F. Kennedy on the warpath for the mob. All immaculately strung across a colorfully detailed, powerfully researched depiction of the 1950s. A time when Jimmy Hoffa was in every newspaper and “The Outfit” (aka The Mafia at it’s height) kept everyone looking over their shoulders.

Though standing as the 18th Nathan Heller Novel (excluding short story collections and “casebooks”), The Big Bundle is immediately accessible for those who might be coming to the series fresh. From page 1, Collins provides a wonderfully succinct primer on Heller’s exploits thus far. Economically delivered and chock full of rich characterization, Collins eases readers into the life and immensely readable voice of Heller.

Better still, the novel’s main case is truly compelling. Made even more so by the liberal peppering of real-life history Collins deploys throughout the book. The Greenlease Kidnapping was huge news and compared to the Lindbergh case at the time. Yet another canny connection to our man Heller. But as such, Collins adapts and reconstructs real history, people, and places into the narrative. Providing his driving, constantly twisty plot with sumptuous detailing.

To say any more would spoil The Big Bundle‘s best turns. But trust when I say, if you are looking for old-school, eminently readable crime fiction, The Big Bundle is a damn safe bet. Chock to bursting with character and deftly delivered by well-practiced hand, this new effort from Hard Case Crime does right by Chicago’s A-1 gumshoe. And providing him a welcome new home at the publisher.

The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins is available for pre-order now and releases December 6th.

Joe Maniscalco has done a review for Good Reads and Amazon that’s worth sharing:

After first meeting Nate Heller in True Detective back in 1983, this reader has eagerly read each of Max Allan Collins’ novels featuring the life and times of a former Chicago cop who goes on to meet some of 20th centuries’ most famous and most infamous. Nate Heller begins as a reluctant cop, who encounters the Chicago underworld, and then eventually morphs into the famous owner of the A-1 Detective Agency with several branches across the United States.

The Heller novels are notable for Collins’ extensive research that bring the felons and politicos of the years of each of the books to life. (And sometimes felons and politicos describe the same person.). Heller has gone on to solve real life historical mysteries, and even occasionally bedded some well known women of the day, not widely thought of as femme fatales.

The Big Bundle is set somewhat mid career for Heller as he is called on to investigate the kidnapping of a child of a wealthy businessman. Heller had investigated another kidnapping that made worldwide news twenty years earlier, thus his presence in this job makes perfect sense.

There is a moral principle that Heller follows which determines how much of his investigations remain strictly legal, but always justifiable. Here Heller deals with small time hoodlums, famous union bosses, and a young politician about to make his name as he investigates organized crime.

Heller himself hints that the union boss, the politician, and he will meet again, and perceptive readers will likely have some inking how those meetings will turn out, and will change the course of American history.

Readers do not have to start with Heller’s first “memoir.” What’s certain is that nearly 40 years after his first appearance, the author and his creation have not lost any of their power to entertain and put a new spin on twentieth century history and the mysteries and crimes which have brought us into the twenty first century.

Let me remind you that a dock strike in the UK means the availability of the physical book (what I like to call a book book) of The Big Bundle will be delayed till January 2023; but the e-book will be available Dec. 5. I will be doing a book giveaway of the trade paper ARC (the book itself is a hardcover) in a week or two.

In the meantime I am deep into the next Heller – the RFK assassination Heller – Too Many Bullets. I’m at 302 manuscript pages with five chapters left to go (plus the bibliographic essay).

Perhaps because the degree of difficulty – I no longer have George Hagenauer helping me on the research side – has made this one such a bear, added to health issues throughout, I am seriously considering making the follow-up to Too Many Bullets my final Heller.

On the health front, I had a very good report from my heart doctor and will soon be seeing my general practitioner about various other fun and games. But keeping the heart beating is a high damn priority and that looks positive right now.

* * *
‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

The time has come to discuss physical media.

First let me say I am fine with e-books for those of you who find them handy and dandy. They have their place – for example, on a commuter train or when a reader needs to control of the size of print to be able to read the stuff. Where they don’t have a place is on a bookshelf.

Now understand that e-books have kept me and my career alive. Thomas & Mercer (who have lost interest in me as a current contributer, but that’s another story) chose me a decade ago as one of three authors whose back list they would use to plump up their e-book library. The other two were Ian Fleming and Ed McBain, and if there’s better company than that I don’t know who it might be.

Even now the monthly sales of Heller, Mallory, the Disaster Series and the Reeder & Rogers Trilogy add up to a tidy little paycheck – of varying sizes, but steady. Readers having access to my backlist is a great thing. Heller sales are up over a million copies because of Thomas & Mercer’s good efforts. So I am not one to cast aspersions on e-books. They have kept me afloat.

And yet. They are not books. They are not those wonderful things with pages and covers and images on covers that can sit on shelves and be plucked out from the pack for perusal at a moment’s notice. I can tell you with certainty that books from the ‘30s and ‘40s are already disappearing. Even with ABE, you can’t find copies of any number of things, sometimes by authors who were fairly famous in their day.

Then there’s movies. I have far too many DVDs, Blu-rays and, yes, laser discs. If the Internet of a few years ago (and even now) was to be believed, all movies would soon be available to us with a mouse click. Anything we could dream of seeing, we could see, at our whim. Of course that was bullshit.

Any of us who have been paying attention know that a vast number of films are already gone, from the silent days on. A bunch of Charlie Chan movies starring Warner Oland are in the ether, for instance (of course the rest will probably be turned into guitar picks over political correctness, but never mind). And if you look something up on SEARCH on your Roku, you will discover that plenty of stuff is either not available or you have to pay for it, for a temporary rental or a “purchase” (which of course is air you’re purchasing, not something physical you can hold or put on a shelf). We are already used to Netflix and other such services announcing what titles are leaving this month. HBO Max has been one night of the long knives after another.

The death of physical media is more murder than natural causes. So I am not about to divest myself of my library of movies, which will be left to my son, who is also smart enough to know that physical media has its place.

If you think I overstate, take a spin into Best Buy, which for decades made movies a loss leader that brought movie fans in to go through aisle after aisle of cinematic and televisionary offerings. Yesterday, in Cedar Rapids, I entered a Best Buy and the child working the door asked me, “What brings you in today?” Really? I need an excuse now?

Well, maybe I do, because the Blu-rays and 4K discs on offer were a pitiful selection that took up so little space its former grand area was just partitioned off and empty. Shades of Suncoast, Tower Records, and Camelot….

So I come to celebrate the Blu-ray labels that are devoting themselves to obscurities – horror and science fiction and noir, giallo (Italian crime/horror), B movies, C movies, Z movies, and the two who tower over the rest for their superior packaging and extensive bonus features are Severin and Vinegar Syndrome. They are not alone, but these labels are outstanding in their bold selection. Also praise worthy (among a number) are VCI, Shout Factory (Scream Factory), and especially Arrow, who bridge the gap between Criterion’s arty fare and Severin/Vinegar’s aggressively grungy selections.

Severin, for example, recently offered a 4K release of The Changeling, a first-rate George C. Scott haunted house film; My Grandpa is a Vampire, a so so movie for older kids more than redeemed by a valedictory performance by Al Lewis (I hope you don’t have to be told he was Grandpa on The Munsters and a staple of Bilko); and two (so far) Blu-ray boxed sets of Christopher Lee’s European output.

Vinegar Syndrome has recently released The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Woman (with an 80-minute documentary about Spanish cult horror star Paul Naschy as a bonus feature!); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 on 4k with voluminous bonus features; and Cutter’s Way with Jeff Bridges in a VHS-style box. Vinegar Syndrome also does a lot of classic porn for those of you who think the words “classic” and “porn” can reasonably appear together in the same sentence. Like all their stuff, the porn has fancy schmancy sleeves and classy presentation.

Look, not all of this material is for everybody. Some of it seems to be for nobody, so we’re in that fuzzy area between “buyer beware” and “how cool!”

But this is a world of physical media that has been spawned by the real world’s lack of interest thereof. So we can find Arrow Video releasing Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers and (on 4K) Mike Hodges’ Croupier. And Scream Factory releasing a 4K of Army of Darkness and a boxed set of Jackie Chan (1976 – 1982).

Best of times, worst of times. Take your pick.

* * *

And, no, I haven’t forgotten Classic Flix. I am recording a commentary for Mickey Spillane’s The Long Wait tomorrow. And here is a terrific review of their I, the Jury 4K/Blu-ray/3-D release.

Finally, my friend and editor Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime has a wonderful interview with my buddy Andrew Sumner of Titan about Charles’ terrific Gun Honey comic book, the archive editions of Ms. Tree, and a little something I like to call…The Big Bundle!

M.A.C.

Good News and Bad News Is No Mystery….

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

There’s good news and bad news this week, starting with this stellar review for the new Mike Hammer book (Kill Me If You Can) from Mystery Scene courtesy of private-eye guru, Kevin Burton Smith, mastermind behind the Thrilling Detective web site (https://thrillingdetective.com/).

Kill Me If You Can cover
Hardcover: Target Purchase Link
E-Book: Google Play Kobo
Digital Audiobook: Google Play Audiobook Store
Audiobook MP3 CD:
Audiobook CD:
Kill Me If You Can
by Max Allan Collins
Titan Books, September 2022, $24.95

By now Max Allan Collins’ name has appeared on more than half of the Mike Hammer novels, whether you regard them as canon or not. But Collins wasn’t one of those pens-for-hire parachuted in to keep a corporate cash cow mooing—he was handpicked by Spillane himself, who left behind a treasure trove of unfinished manuscripts, rough notes, and story ideas. He told his wife shortly before his death that “Max will know what to do.”

It’s clear, after 14 cowritten novels (plus a handful of short stories and non-Hammer material gleaned from Spillane’s leftovers) that Collins knew exactly what to do—he “gets” Spillane in a way much of the mystery establishment still doesn’t.

You need look no further than his latest, the bruising Kill Me If You Can, which takes place somewhere in the mid-fifties lost years of the Hammerverse between Kiss Me, Deadly (1952) and The Girl Hunters (1962). Never the most stable of detectives, Mike’s particularly unchained now—the love of his life, Velda Sterling, is gone, maybe kidnapped, maybe dead, and he’s responding the only way he knows. By drinking too much, wallowing in self-pity, guilt and rage, and vowing revenge—or at least violence. And plenty of it.

The first line, “I had nothing to keep me company but my .45 and an itch to use it,” pretty much sums it up, and the action never really lets up. Mike is in free fall, cut loose from anything (i.e., Velda) that tethered him to a world of laws, and the result is an alcohol-fueled fury that eventually costs him his PI ticket, his only real friend (NYPD homicide dick Pat Chambers), and even his beloved .45, as he tries to set a trap, with the help of former bootlegger turned nightclub owner Packy Paragon, for a burglary crew he suspects may have had a hand in the disappearance of Velda. The trap, though, goes horribly, violently awry.

Those more familiar with Collins’ other work (particularly his masterful Nate Heller series, a string of complex, richly detailed and nuanced tales of a fictional private eye thrust into the maelstrom of some of the twentieth century’s most notorious true crimes) may not at first recognize Collins’ style here. But the coauthor has no problem serving up Hammer the same way Spillane did, with plenty of mayhem, violence, and sex, dished out in straight-ahead, no-frills prose, right on target, so direct, with no room for sissy stuff like digressions, detours, or doubts. Hammer is a shark that needs to keep swimming to survive, and Collins tosses plenty of chum into these waters.

Like the murder of his old pal Packy Paragon, who may—or may not—have been killed for trying to help Mike. Or was it the ledger of mob secrets Packy supposedly possessed? Or an overly ambitious rival? An old grudge? Hammer isn’t sure, but he’ll follow the clues to the savage, bloody end—whatever it takes—to avenge Packy.

It’s the real deal, folks: primo, primal detective fiction. Pass the peanuts.

(If that’s not enough, there are five bonus stories included by Spillane, curated and tweaked by Collins, two of which feature Hammer. You know, just in case…)
Kevin Burton Smith

The bad news? Mystery Scene is assembling its final issue right now. This valuable – make that invaluable – part of the mystery scene has been with us since 1985 when Ed Gorman and Bob Randisi began publishing it. I was in on the ground floor with these two top writers, and wrote the movie review column in the magazine for ten-plus years. (I stepped down when I began making indie films myself and thought expressing my opinions about other people’s work in a high-profile magazine was lacking in grace.)

The exceptionally able Kate Stine has been at the helm since 2002. She has been supportive of long-established mystery writers but, more importantly, of new writers in the field. It’s a crushing blow to writers both new and old and in between to have this source of intelligent reviews disappear, as well as in-depth coverage of the field past and present. It’s really a gut punch to the mystery-fiction industry to lose this publication.

Of course it’s no surprise that making it with a magazine in this digital age is tough, and I am hopeful that Mystery Scene will stick around on line. But it ain’t gonna be the same.

And I never will get that Mystery Scene cover….

* * *

Here’s a great Booklist review of Kill Me If You Can:

Kill Me if You Can.
By Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
2022. 288p. Titan, $24.95 (9781789097641)

Collins, the literary executor of Mickey Spillane’s estate, continues to do fine work in completing the Mike Hammer novels left unfinished when the iconic crime writer died in 2006. Celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first appearance of Hammer in I, the Jury (1947), this tale finds the quintessential hard-boiled private eye still reeling from the disappearance of his secretary, Velda, at the end of Kiss Me Deadly (1952). The action takes place in the mid-fifties with Hammer in full revenge mode, searching for Velda and her abductors, but also trying to find the killer of another close friend, nightclub owner and former gangster Packy Paragon.

Hammer’s over-the-top blood lust is in full cry here, and while that’s not a personality trait endearing to most of today’s crime-fiction audience, it’s an essential part of the Hammer persona, and it helped define the hard-boiled hero in the postwar era of paperback originals. Always rough around the edges (in terms of content and style), Spillane was nevertheless the best-selling mystery writer of the twentieth century, exceeding both Chandler and Hammett. Collins, a first-rate storyteller who started his own career with paperback originals, adds some narrative finesse to what he calls the “Hammerverse” but remains true to Spillane’s essence. This volume also includes five previously unpublished Hammer stories, adding extra pizzazz to what is a fitting celebration of a genre giant.

— Bill Ott

Here is ClassicFlix’s new trailer for their Blu-ray of Mike Hammer in I, the Jury.

Three giveaway copies of the final Caleb York, Shoot-out at Sugar Creek, are still available. [All copies have now been claimed. Thank you! –Nate]

* * *

Recovery from my A-fib bout continues. I am on the upward move – would put myself at about 75% right now. I run out of steam around late afternoon and am spent by mid-evening. Next morning, rarin’ to go.

I’m getting good work days in, and Too Many Bullets continues to grow pages. It will take to the end of the year, I’m afraid; but it’s happening.

I’m told that a strike on the dock in the UK will delay delivery of The Big Bundle till sometime in January. The e-book will be available very early December, however. I will be doing a book giveaway soon on this book designed specifically to get Heller off to a good start at Hard Case Crime.

Heller has now been at TOR, Bantam, Dutton, Forge and, now, Hard Case Crime. This is unusual to say the least, but it reflects my dogged determination to tell Heller’s entire story. Publishers do not like to pick up a “busted” series. But the reviews have supported me. Even the sales for the series are up over one million copies now.

Last night (well, early morning) I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and knew at once I needed to do some replotting, as I head into the final third of the book. I was back in bed at 5:30, content I’d fixed it, removing two story threads. Then at 8:30 a.m. I awoke again and put them back in…but smoothed ‘em out.

Heller never gets any easier.

* * *

Here are some really good reviews of The Big Bundle at Goodreads.

Ron Fortier reviews Kill Me If You Can here. He finds the novel (novella?) okay, but really likes the five short stories.

Here’s a review of the I, the Jury Blu-ray/4K/3-D disc. Let me again say that if you don’t have the ability to play 3-D discs, the Blu-ray and 4K discs make this well worth the price.

And another.

This will lead you to the British Blu-ray release of I, the Jury, which does not include the 3-D disc. It’s Region B.

The top 12 (this write-up says) of comics-adapted movies. Road to Perdition is one of them.

M.A.C.