Posts Tagged ‘The First Quarry’

Mommy Streams, Backlist Bubbles, We Binge

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Both Mommy and Mommy’s Day are now streaming on Amazon Prime. (Links: Mommy; Mommy’s Day) How long they will be there I can’t say (Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life has disappeared, though some other streaming services have it). If you’re a Prime member, it’s included.

[Note from Nate: Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life is currently on Tubi, free (with ads?)]

So if you haven’t seen both or either of these films, now’s your chance. If you have the earlier full-screen versions, this is an opportunity to see the widescreen versions that Phil Dingeldein and I recently labored to create. I do warn everyone not to expect HD quality (despite being streamed as HD) – the picture (particularly on Mommy) is rather soft. But it’s probably the best either one is going to look.

As I’ve said, compromises were made to be able to afford the wonderful casts.

remain proud of these films, and the Blu-ray double-feature release has received mostly good to great notices. People seem to understand where these little movies were coming from – which is to say blackly humorous melodrama, and a tribute to The Bad Seed and to Patty McCormack herself.

Mommy and Mommy’s Day are streaming on Fandango, too, for a couple of bucks. It may show up elsewhere (I am not kept terribly well in the loop by the distributor). (Links: Mommy; Mommy’s Day)

The novel versions will be coming out again one of these days, part of a package I am negotiating with a major e-book publisher for the seven remaining novels on my backlist (Amazon has most of the rest, Dover has the first two Jack and Maggie Starr novels).

We are also discussing a group of collections of my short fiction (and Barb’s), reprinting Blue Christmas, Too Many Tomcats, and Murder – His and Hers, plus a follow-up to that last title, a collection of my horror stories, and two collections of the stories Matt Clemens and I have done together.

Pulling these stories together has been a big job. They go back to the nineties in many cases, and were written using the word-processing program (wait for it) WordStar, and then converted to now nearly obsolete versions of WordPerfect maybe twenty years ago, and finally to Word. So while I have most of the files in some form, the dizzying array of conversion glitches causes twitches.

For the horror collection I decided to include the radio scripts of “Mercy” and “House of Blood,” written for the Fangoria radio show, Dreadtime Stories. I had adapted a number of my short stories for producer Carl Amari, but had two indie movie ideas I wanted to get up on their feet, and that’s how the two scripts above came to be written. The scripts were in a format (basically a very narrow strip of copy, maybe four inches wide, that required hours of work transforming them into more standard pages of text that wouldn’t bewilder or annoy readers. Fortunately, I have a staff to do such scut work. No, wait – I don’t!

Ultimately, though, it will mean the vast majority of my work will be available in e-book (and real books), with only a handful of things lost to the mists of time.

* * *

What have Barb and I been watching lately? Now that we don’t go to the movies anymore?

We finally got around to Ozark, which had been recommended to me by smart people, who were right. It’s a terrific show, very well-acted and full of twists and turns. Several people had told me that somebody (or somebodies) at the series seemed to be fans of mine or were influenced by me, and I think that might be the case. If so, it’s flattering. If not, it’s not the first time I’ve been deluded.

But there’s a hillbilly family reminiscent of the Comforts from the Nolan novels, a character called Boyd (Quarry’s partner in those novels), and a major villain in the first of the three seasons so far is played by the actor (Peter Mullen) who was the Broker in the Quarry TV series. And the good man doing bad things to keep his family afloat is Road to Perdition 101. Maybe half a dozen times I turned to Barb and said, “At least somebody’s reading me.”

The series itself is obviously something that wouldn’t exist without Breaking Bad, and it challenges you (in a Quarry-like way) to root for and identify with people who are making really poor choices. I don’t mean to overstate any debt anybody owes me, because (a) I owe plenty of debts myself, and (b) I may be full of shit about this.

The Guardian describes Ozark thusly: “Ozark follows the misadventures of Marty Byrde (the perpetually clenched Jason Bateman), a financial adviser forced to relocate from Chicago to Osage Beach, Missouri, where he launders money on a scale that would give Al Capone a cluster migraine.”

Bateman uses his standard glib, slightly put-upon persona to nice comic effect initially, and you are slightly amazed at first by how well that persona works in a dark melodrama. But as that melodrama grows darker, and the consequences ever more dire, Bateman’s performance deepens. Other mesmerizing performances come from Laura Linney, as Bateman’s even more glib wife, whose sunny smile delivers manipulative self-interest in such a “helpful” way; and Julia Garner’s Ruth, the most original and unique character in Ozark, a hillbilly girl with a good heart and a crushed soul, capable of kindness and murder, when either is called for.

I like the series and I think you will, too.

We also have recently enjoyed the surprise gift of a second season of Rick Gervais’ After Life, the touching drama/comedy (you don’t think I could ever type the vile word “dramedy,” do you?) that explores the road back for a husband consumed by grief over the loss of a wonderful wife.

The very special thing about After Life is its signature combination of mean humor and genuine sentiment. It’s a show about a man so depressed that suicide is an understandable option, and it’s often frequently hilarious.

I am a Gervais fan and have been for a long, long time. This little series isn’t much talked about, but it may represent his best work.

On the film front, we have watched a lot of British comedies of the late ‘40s and 1950s – such Alastair Sim gems as our perennial favorite, The Belles of St. Trinian’s, but also Laughter in Paradise and School for Scoundrels; and Alec Guinness in All at Sea, The Captain’s Paradise and Last Holiday.

And the most current season of Midsomer Murders, a favorite comfort food of ours, seemed particularly strong after a few missteps the season before.

* * *

Bookgasm, which is a book review site you should be regularly visiting, has posted a wonderful review of Girl Can’t Help It that’s been picked up all over the place, and I provided a link last week. But in case you haven’t seen it, I’m going to share it here, right now:

Notoriously prolific author Max Allan Collins has added a second entry to his Krista Larson series, GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. It’s also a stretch back to Collins’ past (and present) as a rock and roll musician. True! I didn’t know this either but Collins apparently wrote the song “Psychedelic Siren” recorded by The Daybreakers in 1968 (here, watch it on YouTube). In the author’s note, he states this is the first time he has mined his rock and roll experience for a book. Well dang it, more of this please. Mr. Collins.

The first book in the series, Girl Most Likely, features Krista Larson as the Chief of Police in Galena, Illinois. She is assisted by her able staff but also by her father, a retired cop from the Dubuque Police Department who does invaluable detective work. In this second work, Girl Can’t Help It, the Larson duo is back on the job.

The book title refers to a song title recorded by local Galena band Hot Rod & The Pistons. They scored a huge hit with the song in the 80s when retro rockabilly hit big (think Stray Cats). They managed two albums and then faded away. But after their election into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’re set for a reunion gig and maybe even a little tour. The town of Galena is excited and creates a special musical festival to kick off the whole thing. All well and good.

Until one of the members is found dead of a heart attack in a bathtub. Oh well, old guys do die. But then a second band member commits suicide and his apartment has been ransacked. This hits the Larsons as fishy, and they’re fairly convinced that both deaths are murders.

Of course, we the readers know these are murders because we have chapters written from the point of view of the murderer. The crimes continue to escalate and it’s a battle between the murderer and the police department to see who will come out on top and if the entire lineup of Hot Rod & The Pistons will be killed off one by one.

Everybody knows Max Allan Collins by now. He has multiple series in place, writes another successful series with his wife (the duo goes by Barbara Allan) and is one of the solid bricks in the pyramid of genre writers over the past 40+ years. A lovely, smooth and polished style coupled with a brisk pace makes for quick reading short chapters, believable characters, behaviors and dialogue. If you like any of Collins’ works, you’ll like GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. I think this series has real promise. Recommended. —Mark Rose

Get it at Amazon.

A fun podcast about books, The Inside Flap, was kind enough to give Do No Harm and Nate Heller some attention. The Do No Harm stuff happens a bit after the hour mark. You’ll hear one of the participants wish that I would have Heller solve the JFK assassination (guess what books I sent along to them).

The great blog Paperback Warrior is posting their all-time ten favorite posts, and the one focusing on The First Quarry is #4.

Here’s a great interview with my buddy Charles Ardai, touching on our projects together.

The fantastic Stiletto Gumshoe site talks about Mike Hammer and Masquerade for Murder, and provides some links to things you may have missed.

This nice review of Antiques Fire Sale is a little quirky – doesn’t like all the talking to the reader, and thinks referring to Vivian as “Mother” is disrespectful – but some nice insights are on hand, as well. Loving us is preferred, but liking us is just fine, too.

Finally, check out this terrific Mystery Tribute piece about Mike Hammer and Masquerade for Murder.

M.A.C.

Must Be Raining, ‘Cause We’re Talking Arc

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

This going to be very brief, as I am starting work on the new Mike Hammer (Masquerade for Murder), again working from a Spillane synopsis with a few snippets of his prose to work in. The early chapters are always the hardest, getting the tone, getting into the swing of it, and just generally building momentum.

I had a nice response last week from readers interested in getting advance copies of Do No Harm. Interestingly – and disappointingly – not a one asked to see Girl Can’t Help It. I hope readers of Quarry, Heller, Hammer and so on will give this series a fair try. This book has particular meaning for me because I’ve finally – after all these years – really engaged with my rock ‘n’ roll background in the telling of a crime story.

As it happens, I already have on hand Advance Reading Copies (ARC’s) of Girl Can’t Help It, but am hesitant to start sending any out, since the book won’t be available till March 10.

As for Do No Harm, I have yet to ascertain whether there will be Advance Reading Copies at all – if we have to wait till the actual book exists, that will complicate getting reviews out there early enough to do any good. Publishers are starting to send out mostly e-book versions of ARC’s, which sucks. Stay tuned.

I also have not received a supply of Killing Quarry ARC’s, but some are finding their way into reviewer’s hands. A nice write-up is included below.

The readers who wrote interested in doing reviews (thank you, all of you) are mostly veterans of the Book Giveaway Wars here (and there will be more of those). I am building a list (finally) of you loyal reviewers. But I’m frustrated that so few bloggers and other on-line reviewers were a definite minority among those who responded.

Apologies for the brevity this time, but here are some interesting links to make up for it.

This one is a review of Quarry, the first novel I wrote about the character (not the chronological first – that’s The First Quarry), and the third novel I wrote if we start with Bait Money as the opening gun. (Mourn the Living proceeded it, but didn’t get published till years later. Also, there were four full-length novels written by me in my junior high and high school years, never published…thank God…but the reason why I got fairly proficient early on.

This is another nice write-up, mostly about the Quarry books, from a reader who admits having trouble keeping up with me. Here’s the thing, for those who are dealing with my prolific nature: first, I am trying to make a living; and second, I can only write books while I’m alive, so I’m using the time as best I can.

Here’s a write-up about comic book tough girls, and Ms. Tree gets some nice ink along the way.

And here’s that early Killing Quarry review I promised you.

M.A.C.

A Better Nate Heller Chronology

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Bill Slankard of Arlington Heights, Illinois – a loyal (and perhaps demented) reader of the Nathan Heller novels – shared with me his personal chronology of Nate Heller’s career and personal history (and ancestry!). He’s given me permission to share it here, and I’m doing so, having a made a few minor corrections. Also, this does not include Do No Harm, which as you probably know isn’t out till March.

This is much more complete than what I put together for you last week.

Before we get to the new, improved chronology, I will share less-than-happy news – I’m told there is no paperback planned by Forge for Better Dead, the most recent Heller novel. So those of you waiting to buy it in either trade or mass market are out of luck. Let me encourage you to buy it in hardcover now, because it appears to be close to out of print.

VJ Books has signed copies for $36.99 here.

Amazon (and a few other places) have it around $18 (and sometimes cheaper than that, for less than mint condition copies), but the book appears to be only available from second sellers.

Before we get to the chronology, here is a link that may be of interest – a review of The First Quarry at Paperback Warrior that discusses the entire series in a smart, fun fashion.

And now….

NATE HELLER CHRONOLOGY (courtesy Bill Slankhard)

1840s
Reference: Jacob Heller working as a tailor in Halle, Germany [True Detective]

March 13, 1848
Reference: Jacob’s younger brother Albert killed in Vienna in general revolt against Metternich [True Detective]

1850
Reference: born Hiram Heller, youngest child of Jacob Heller [True Detective]

1853
Jacob Heller emigrates to United States with wife and children Jacob, Benjamin, Anna, and Hiram [True Detective]

c1855
Reference: wife of Jacob dies [True Detective]

1863
Reference: Hiram shot in both legs fighting for Union at Gettysburg [True Detective]

c1865
Reference: Jacob Heller (senior) dies in New York [True Detective]

1871
Reference: Hiram marries Naomi Levitz [True Detective]

1875
Reference: born Mahlon Heller, son of Hiram and Naomi [True Detective]

1877
Reference: born Louis Heller, son of Hiram and Naomi [True Detective]

1886
Reference: Hiram and Naomi Heller die in tenement fire. Mahlon and Louis are sent to live with their Aunt Anna in Chicago [True Detective]

c1898
Reference: Anna Heller dies [True Detective]

c1902
Reference: Mahlon Heller marries Jeanette Nolan [True Detective]

c1906
Reference: born Nathan Samuel Heller (NH) [“Kisses of Death”]; 28 years old in August 1933 [“The Blonde Tigress” EQMM Jun 2008]; mid fifties in 1962 [Bye Bye, Baby:Something’s Got to Give!]

1908
Reference: Jeanette Heller dies during miscarriage [True Detective]

1911
Reference: Mahlon opens Heller’s Books on South Homan in Douglas Park area with a loan from his brother Louis [True Detective]

1929
Reference: NH joins Chicago Police Department with help from his uncle

1930
Reference: NH arrests Willie Bioff for pandering [Million- Dollar Wound]

Summer 1930
Reference: NH as patrolman witnesses suspect in killing of Jake Lingle escape. Later commits perjury identifying another man as the the assassin
[True Detective]

1931
Reference: NH promoted to detective as a result of the Jake Lingle case. Mahlon Heller commits suicide [True Detective] NH meets Estelle Carey [The Million-Dollar Wound]

March 4, 1932
[Stolen Away: Prologue]

March 5 – April 18, 1932
[Stolen Away: 1 – The Lone Eagle]

April-May 1932
New York, NY – dinner at Sardi’s with Clarence Darrow. With Jimmy Walker (mayor of New York) [Damned in Paradise]

Honolulu, HI – NH working as Clarence Darrow’s investigator on Massie case. With Clarence “Buster” Crabbe (athlete), Chang Apana (Honolulu police detective) [Damned in Paradise]

June 1932
Reference: NH assigned as police liaison to Huey Long during the Democratic Convention [Blood and Thunder]

Late 1932
Reference: NH helps out Clarence Darrow “on a minor matter” [Damned in Paradise]

December 19-22, 1932
Reference: NH first office on fourth floor of building owned by Barney Ross on corner of Van Buren and Plymouth [True Detective]

Chicago, IL – detective NH coerced by Harry Lang (Chicago police detective) and Harry Miller (Chicago police detective) into assassination attempt on Frank Nitti (gangster), who is arrested for shooting HL. NH quits police department to open A-1 Detective Agency (A1DA). Hired by Charles Gates Dawes to supervise security at upcoming World’s Fair. Kills Frank Hurt. With Louis Campagna (gangster), Barney Ross (boxer) (gangster), Anton J Cermak (mayor of Chicago) [True Detective – 1: The Blond Pig]

January 7 – April 8, 1933
Chicago, IL – NH travels to Atlanta to see Al Capone (gangster) in prison who hires him to stop Frank Nitti (gangster) from assassinating Anton J Cermak (mayor of Chicago). Hired by Mary Ann Beame (actress) to find her brother James. Travels to Miami to guard AJC, who is assassinated by Giuseppe Zangara (bricklayer). NH testifies before grand jury indicting Frank Nitti (gangster) and helps get a not guilty verdict. NH breaks ties with his uncle Louis. With Eliot Ness (US Treasury agent), Barney Ross (boxer), George Raft (actor), Harry Lang (Chicago police detective), Harry Miller (Chicago police detective), Walter Winchell (radio newscaster), Franklin D Roosevelt (President-elect) [True Detective – 2: The Long Bellyache]

April 9 – June 25, 1933
Davenport, IA – NH travels to Iowa with girlfriend/client Mary Ann Beame to search for her brother Jimmy. In Chicago, NH trains and oversees security personnel at Chicago Exposition. He discovers that Frank Hurt was really Jimmy Beame. Kills blond gangster who killed Jake Lingle. With Ronald “Dutch” Reagan sportscaster), George Raft (actor), Frank Nitti (gangster), Louis Campagna (gangster), Eliot Ness (US Treasury agent), Barney Ross (boxer) [True Detective – 3: Tower Town]

Summer 1933
Chicago, IL – hired by Goldblatt’s department store to investigate vandalism – his “first” operative, Stanley Gross, is killed. With Barney Ross (boxer). [“Kaddish for the Kid”]

August 1933
Reference: A-1 Detective Agency in one-room office on Van Buren; lives in office; rent is free for keeping “an eye on things at night” in the building; also working at the Century of Progress World’s Fair [“The Blonde Tigress” EQMM Jun 2008]

Chicago, IL – hired by defense attorney to find evidence to help client – Eleanor Jarman. [“The Blonde Tigress” EQMM June 2008]

September 1, 1933
Chicago, IL – Eliot Ness leaves for Cincinnati. [True Detective – 4: The Big Fall]

November 1933
Chicago, IL – World’s Fair closes for the winter. NH contract is not renewed for next year [True Crime – 1: The Traveling Salesman]

December 1933
Reference: A1DA office on second floor of building on corner of Van Buren and Plymouth in Chicago [“Private Consultation”]

Chicago, IL – hired by Earle Wynekoop to investigate murder of his wife, Rheta (on 11/21/1933). With John Stege (Chicago police captain) [“Private Consultation”]

Summer 1934
Chicago, IL – NH tracked runaway girl to home of Rose Kasallis and her “school for crime” [“House Call”]

July 13-23, 1934
Chicago, IL – NH hired by John Howard to investigate his wife for adultery, which turns out to be a set-up for the killing of John Dillinger. With Sally Rand (exotic dancer), Barney Ross (boxer), Melvin Purvis (Justice Dept special agent), Martin Zarkovich (East Chicago police sergeant), Sam Cowley (Division of Investigation agent), Louis Piquett (mob lawyer), Frank Nitti (gangster), Anna Sage (“The Woman in Red”) [True Crime – 1: The Traveling Salesman]

August 24-September 1, 1934
Wisconsin – NH hired by Joshua Petersen to find his missing 19-year-old daughter Louise. He goes undercover as Jimmy Lawrence, and foils J Edgar Hoover kidnap attempt. With Sally Rand, Louis Campagna, Frank Nitti, Willie Bioff (ex-pimp), Kate “Ma” Barker, George “Baby-Face” Nelson, Arthur “Doc” Barker, Fred Barker, Alvin Karpis, Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Sam Cowley, Melvin Purvis, J Edgar Hoover [True Crime – 2: The Farmer’s Daughter]

September 9, 1934
Chicago, IL – NH finds solace with Sally Rand [True Crime: 3 – Where the Bodies Are Buried]

March 11-May 16, 1935
Chicago, IL – [Flying Blind: 1 – Ceiling Zero]

August 30-September 12, 1935
New York, NY – NH hired by Huey Long (US Senator) to join bodyguard detail for a couple of weeks. With Phil Baker (radio star) [Blood and Thunder: 1 – A Vest for the Kingfish]

Oklahoma City, OK – NH nabs pickpocket while bodyguarding Huey Long at Oklahoma State Fair on Labor Day [Blood and Thunder: 1 – A Vest for the Kingfish]

September 2, 1935
Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA – NH investigating enemies of Huey Long, who is shot on Sunday, September 8, dies the following Tuesday, and is buried Thursday. With Frank Wilson (IRS agent), Elmer Irey (IRS agent) [Blood and Thunder: 1 – A Vest for the Kingfish]

October 26-November 10, 1936
New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA – NH hired by Mutual Life Insurance Company to investigate Huey Long death to determine if he was murdered or accidentally killed. With Rose Long (US Senator), Elmer Irey (IRS agent) [Blood and Thunder: 2 – A Lagniappe for Elmer]

November-December 1935
Los Angeles, CA – hired by Thelma Todd (actress) as bodyguard. Todd dies 12/19/1935 [“The Perfect Crime”]

January 1936
Reference: A-1 Detective Agency (A1DA) office in single room on fourth floor of building on corner of Van Buren and Plymouth in Chicago [“House Call”]

Chicago, IL – hired by Mrs Silber Peacock to find husband. With John Stege (Chicago police captain) [“House Call”]

February 3-March 7, 1936
Cleveland, OH – NH helps Eliot Ness with case [Dark City]

March 13–April 4, 1936
[Stolen Away: 2 – The Lone Wolf]

June 1936
Chicago, IL – hired by Mrs Joseph Bolton to investigate philandering husband. With John Stege (Chicago police captain) [“Marble Mildred”]

March 17-July 19, 1937
Chicago, IL – [Flying Blind: 2 – Dead Reckoning]

November 7, 1937
Chicago, IL – NH meets Eliot Ness at wake for Jack Whitehall [Bullet Proof]

1938
Reference: NH meets Peggy Hogan and Virginia Hill [Neon Mirage]

March 1938
Reference: NH attends funeral of Clarence Darrow in Jackson Park, Chicago [Damned in Paradise]

May 16-23, 1938
Caribbean Cruise Ship – NH and fellow private detectives solve killing aboard the ship [Caribbean Blues]

August 1938
Cleveland, OH – hired to track down a missing daughter, Ginger Jensen, who ends up being a victim of the Butcher of Kingsbury Run. With Eliot Ness (Public Safety Directory) [“The Strawberry Teardrop”]

1939
Cleveland, OH – hired by Eliot Ness (Public Safety Director) to investigate deaths for insurance of bums [“Natural Death, Inc”]

November 6-12, 1939
Reference: A1DA now a suite of 2 offices in building at corner of Plymouth and Van Buren, with 2 freshly hired operatives (Lou Sapperstein (NH boss on pickpocket detail for CPD) and Frankie Fortunato), and secretary (Gladys). NH living in a 2-room suite at the Morrison Hotel [The Million-Dollar Wound]

Chicago, IL – NH hired by Edward J O’Hare (president of Sportsman’s Park racetrack) to instruct his security staff in spotting and catching pickpockets. O’Hare is killed. With Barney Ross, John Stege (Chicao police captain), Sally Rand, Westbrook Pegler (newspaper columnist) [The Million-Dollar Wound: Nitti’s Town]

Hollywood, CA – NH hired by Westbrook Pegler to investigate Willie Bioff’s involvement with movie industry. Bioff hires NH to find out what his associates have been saying about him to the feds. With Robert Montgomery (actor), George Browne (gangster – president of stagehand’s union), Nicky Dean (gangster) [The Million-Dollar Wound: 2 – Nitti’s Town]

Chicago, IL – NH performs task for Bioff and throws Pegler out of his office. With Jack Barger (“king of the [Chicago] grind circuit), Estelle Carey (“queen
of the 26 girls”), Louis Campagna, Frank Nitti [The Million-Dollar Wound: 2 – Nitti’s Town]

December 8, 1939
Reference: Operatives Lou (Sapperstein) and Frankie working for A1DA [“Scrap”]

Chicago, IL – hired by Jake Rubenstein aka Jack Ruby (union treasurer) to help save Junk Handlers union. With John Stege (Chicago police captain) [“Scrap”]

Early 1940
Reference: Freelance Naval Intelligence job (failure) for James V Forrestal [Majic Man – Prologue]

May 6-June 4, 1940
Chicago, IL – [Flying Blind: 3 – Dead-Stick Landing]

September 1940
Washington DC – NH investigates Josephine Forrestal’s claims of being followed and that her children are in danger for her husband, James V Forrestal (Under Secretary of the Navy) [Majic Man – Prologue)]

May 22-24, 1941
Reference: “The A1DA had a suite of offices now, and … had two experienced ops and a … secretary” besides NH [“Screwball”]

Miami Beach, FL – hired by Frank Nitti (gangster) to warn Pete Clifton (comedian) to stop working “blue.” Clifton is killed 05/23/1941. With Eddie McGraw (gangster) [“Screwball”]

Early 1942
Reference: A1DA currently a 3-man (1 secretary) operation, with the youngest man about to enlist. NH and Barney Ross get drunk and enlist in the marines, and go to boot camp in San Diego. The A1DA is left in the hands of Lou Sapperstein [The Million-Dollar Wound]

March 1942
Reference: Eliot Ness leaves post of Public Safety Director of Cleveland under a cloud [Angel in Black]

October 1942
Reference: NH stationed on Pago Pago [The Million-Dollar Wound]

November 4-19, 1942
Guadalcanal – NH and Barney Ross in B Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division land at Guadalcanal, where NH comes down with malaria. With Robert Montgomery (actor and naval lieutenant) [The Million-Dollar Wound: 1 – The Island]

November 26, 1942
Congress Heights, MD – NH wakes up, not knowing who is is, in St Elizabeth’s Hospital after being transferred there from the naval hospital in Pearl Harbor, HI [The Million-Dollar Wound: Prologue]

February 1, 1943
Congress Heights, MD – NH honorably discharged from the marines with a Section 8, after earning the Silver Star for gallantry in action [The Million-Dollar Wound: Interim]

February 2 – March 20, 1943
Reference: Frankie Fortunato of A1DA is in the Army. Lou Sapperstein has been running the agency since NH enlisted. Gladys now married to Frankie, who is killed at Guadalcanal [The Million-Dollar Wound]

Chicago, IL – NH returns to civilian life and the government wants him to testify against Frank Nitti. Estelle Carey is murdered, and NH is hired to recover her diary. Frank Nitti dies. NH arranges to make sure Barney Ross can’t get illegal drugs in Chicago. With Eliot Ness, Bill Drury (Chicago police captain), Sally Rand, Louis Campagna, Paul “The Waiter” Ricca (gangster), Ralph Capone (gangster). Kills John and Olivia Borgia [The Million-Dollar Wound: 3 – The Ruptured Duck]

July 1943
Chicago, IL – [Carnal Hours]

August 1943
Los Angeles, CA – NH doing a job in Hollywood [Flying Blind: Epilogue]

Late 1944
Reference: NH in LA to work on the Louise Peete case. Meets Aggie Underwood (newspaper reporter) and Harry “the Hat” Hansen (LAPD detective), Jim Richardson (LA Examiner city editor) [Angel in Black]

May 1945
Reference: NH hired by James Ragen to protect his niece, Peggy. [Neon Mirage]

Reference: NH office is on Van Buren and has more than one man working for him [“That Kind of Nag”]

Chicago, IL – NH hired by Sylvester Vinicky who suspects his wife, Rose, is unfaithful. NH solves her murder in one day. With Patrick Cullen (Chicago police captain), Charles Mullaney (Chicago police inspector – worked on pickpocket detail with NH and Bill Drury) [“That Kind of Nag”]

June 24-August 31, 1946
Reference: 6 operatives (including Lou Sapperstein, Walt Pelitier, Bill Tendlar, O’Toole) working for NH. Tendlar betrays NH and is let go. NH interested in linking his agency with one run by Fred Rubinski (and 4 operatives) in Los Angeles [Neon Mirage]

Chicago, IL – A1DA hired to protect James Ragen (owner of Continental Press Service), but Ragen is gravely injured in an assassination attempt. With Bill Drury, Jake Guzik (gangster), Sylvester “Two Gun Pete” Jefferson (Chicago cop), Arthur “Mickey” McBride (ex-partner of Jim Ragen) [Neon Mirage: 1 – A Killing in Chicago]

Los Angeles, CA – NH goes to California to find Peggy Hogan. With George Raft, Virginia Hill, Tony Cornero (gangster), Mickey Cohen (gangster), Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (gangster) [Neon Mirage: 1 – A Killing in Chicago]

Chicago, IL – Jim Ragen dies in hospital of mercury poisoning [Neon Mirage: 1 – A Killing in Chicago]

October-November 1946
Reference: NH meets and eventually breaks up with Elizabeth Short in Chicago [Angel in Black]

December 15-30, 1946
Reference: NH in Los Angeles just prior to going to Vegas. Since August he merged with Fred Rubinski and became president of the new business, with Fred as vp. NH marries Peggy Hogan 12/30/1946 [Neon Mirage]

Las Vegas, NV – NH hired by Ben Siegel to train security personel for The Flamingo on spotting pickpockets. With Moe Sedway (gangster), Ben Siegel (gangster), Virginia Hill, George Raft, Westbrook Pegler [Neon Mirage: 2 – A Killing in Vegas]

1947
Reference: NH hired by Joseph Kennedy to undo the marriage of his son, John Fitzgerald, to “Dulcie Something” and make “the wedding documents in the local courthouse disappear.” [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!] [Better Dead: Red Scare]

January 1947
Reference: NH in LA on extended honeymoon. Peggy works to break into show business. January 15, 1947 is referred to as the one-month anniversary for NH and Peggy. Teddy Hertel is an operative in the LA branch of A1DA [Angel in Black]

Los Angeles, CA – NH called by former girlfriend Elizabeth Short to pay for abortion. Wife Peggy announces she is pregnant. NH gets involved in murder of Beth Short, “The Black Dahlia.” With Aggie Underwood (newspaper reporter), Harry “the Hat” Hansen (LAPD detective), Jim Richardson (LA Examiner city editor), Orson Welles (actor), Eliot Ness, Barney Ross [Angel in Black]

March 1947
Reference: NH and wife on vacation, which is extended for a few weeks at the expense of the state of California so NH can testify at Overell trial [“Unreasonable Doubt”]

Los Angeles, CA – NH gets involved in Overell murders [“Unreasonable Doubt”]

June 20-21, 1947
Reference: NH working on lining up a New York office for A1DA. Chicago office has 10 operative and LA has 6 [Neon Mirage]

Los Angeles, CA – NH in LA on business with Fred Rubinski. He is with Ben Siegel when Siegel is killed. Kills Bud Quinn (head of security at The Flamingo), Joseph “Blinky” Leonard (bookie), Davey Finkel (bookie), and Snaden (mob doctor) [Neon Mirage: 2 – A Killing in Vegas]

July 1947
Reference: NH living in Lincolnwood, IL, with pregnant wife Peggy. A1DA just moved to Rookery Building in the Loop. Takes on 2 more operatives. [“Dying in the Post-War World”]

Chicago, IL – hired to find victim of kidnapping/murder, and gets involved with the Lipstick Killer. Kills George Morello (gangster) and James Watson (kidnapper/murderer). With Sam “Mooney” Flood aka Sam Giancana (gangster) [“Dying in the Post-War World”]

September 27, 1947
Reference: born Nathan Samuel Heller, Jr, to Nathan and Peggy Heller, who are living in a brick bungalow in Lincolnwood [“Dying in the Post-War World”; Angel in Black, Bye Bye, Baby:Something’s Got to Give!] [Ask Not]

Late 1948
Reference: NH and Peggy divorce [Angel in Black]

March 1949
Reference: A1DA now in the Monadnock Building on West Jefferson in Chicago “brimming with offices, operatives and secretaries” [Majic Man]

Washington DC – NH investigates James V Forrestal’s (Secretary of Defense)claims that he is being followed and his life is in danger. With Josephine Forrestal, Jack Anderson (legman for Drew Pearson), U E Baughman (Chief of the Secret Service), Frank Wilson (security consultant with the Atomic Energy Commission), Harry S Truman (President of the United States), Theodor “Teddy” Kollek (fund-raiser and recruiter for the Haganah), Drew Pearson. Also interviews Major Jesse Marcel (Strategic Air Command) about Roswell incident for Pearson [Majic Man – One: Red Scare]

April 1949
Roswell, NM – hired by Drew Pearson to investigate Roswell incident [Majic Man – Two: Blue Skies)]

May 1949
Washington DC [Majic Man – Three: White Lies]

July 1949
Reference: Fred Rubinski (vice-president of A1DA) is a business partner of NH – since late 1946 FR operates the Los Angeles branch of the A1A, operating out of the Bradbury Building at Third and Broadway. FR also co-owner of Sherry’s cocktail lounge/restaurant. NH divorce from actress wife not yet final [“Shoot-Out on Sunset”]

Los Angeles, CA – Consulting with Mickey Cohen (gangster) over some security matters. MC survives an assassination attempt. With Florabel Muir (newpaper columnist) [“Shoot-Out on Sunset”]

May 1, 1950
Reference: A1DA with Los Angeles Branch, and in the Monadnock Building in Chicago, with partner Lou Sapperstein, six operatives, and secretary Gladys Fortunato. [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Mosinee, WI – NH in town during a mock communist invasion to ask a favor of Joe McCarthy on behalf of a client. [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Summer 1950
Los Angeles, CA – NH bumps into Mickey Cohen (gangster) at Sherry’s [“Shoot-Out on Sunset”]

September 1950
Reference: NH recently divorced from Peggy on grounds of adultery [Chicago Confidential]

Los Angeles, CA – [Chicago Confidential]

August 1951
Cleveland, OH – NH finds “athletic midget” Eddie Gaedel for Bill Veeck (baseball club owner) [“Strike Zone”]

1953
Reference: Life magazine features article about Nate Heller, detective to the stars [“Kisses of Death”]

March 26, 1953
Reference: NH refers to “my new Manhattan branch.” [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Reference: Joe Kennedy was “an occasional client of mine since the mid-‘40s” [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Washington, DC – Dashiell Hammett hires NH to investigate Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who are on death row. Joe McCarthy hires NH to investigate Hammett & friends. Drew Pearson will pay NH expenses on the Hammett job in return for exclusive access. With Bobby Kennedy. [Better Dead: Red
Scare]

April 1953
Reference: “the A1 office in the Empire State Building…” “…forty-sixth floor…” “Robert Hasty, who I’d stolen from Bradford Investigations in D.C. to head up my Manhattan branch. We’d only opened shop a few months ago.” [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Reference: NH: ”…I have a son, and an ex-wife…” [Better Dead: Red Scare]

Ossining, NY – NH visits the Rosenbergs in Sing Sing prison. [Better Dead: Red Scare]

New York City, NY – NH has encounter with Frank Costello. [Better Dead: Red Scare]

June 1953
Reference: A1DA in Monadnock Building [“Kisses of Death”]

Chicago, IL – hired by Ben Hecht (screenwriter & author) to escort Marilyn Monroe to benefit for Maxwell Bodenheim (poet). With Ric Riccardo(restauranteur) [“Kisses of Death”]

August(?) 1953
Reference: NH serves as bodyguard to Marilyn Monroe during Gentlemen Prefer Blondes junket [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

November 1953
Reference: NH and Bob Hasty finish assembling a staff for the New York branch of the A1DA. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

Reference: NH’s son, Sam, is five-years-old. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

New York City, NY: NH meets with Bettie Page about getting her out of testifying before the Kefauver Committee. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

Washington, D.C.: NH talks with Estes Kefauver about Bettie Page. He then sees Joe McCarthy who asks him to talk with scientist Frank Olson about the CIA. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

Frederick, MD: NH talks with Frank Olson, who tells him about CIA toxins and mind control activities. Later in the month Olson goes missing from his home, and NH tries to find him. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

New York City, NY: NH punches Roy Cohn. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

1954
Reference: Frank Sinatra and Joe Dimaggio hired a detective attached to A1DA in L.A. to check up on Marilyn Monroe. Detective led them to wrong apartment and scandal ensued. NH clears both of the celebrities. [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

February 1954
New York, NY – hired by Ben Hecht to find Maxwell Bodenheim to sign contract for book re-issue – ends up investigating Bodenheim and wife’s death [“Kisses of Death”]

1955
Reference: NH, vacationing in New York with Linda, runs into Seymour Weiss [Blood and Thunder]

1957
Reference: NH hired by Jimmy Hoffa to infiltrate the “Rackets” Committee run by Senator John L McClellan, but NH was secretly working for Robert Kennedy, chief counsel of the committee [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

NH worked for Hoffa while being employed by Bobby Kennedy and the Senate rackets committee. The double-agent period was one he’d been lucky to survive. As of 1963, Hoffa was unaware of the duplicity. [Target Lancer]

Reference: A1DA begins $1500/year retainer with Playboy magazine, which lasts at least 5 years [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

c1960
Reference: Working for Marilyn Monroe, NH tracks down Stanley Gifford, who Monroe believed was her father. [“more recently” Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

September 1960
Reference: At a party at the home of Hugh Hefner, presidential candidate JFK asks NH to be his intermediary with mobsters (like Johnny Rosselli or Sam Giancana), if he is elected. NH familiar with guests Frank Sinatra and Judith Campbell [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

Fall 1960
Reference: NH’s 13-year-old son, Sam, is in junior high. [Target Lancer]

Chicago, IL – Edward Shepherd, a CIA security chief, asks NH to contact the mob about assassinating Fidel Castro. [Target Lancer]

Los Angeles, CA – NH tells Johnny Rosselli that the CIA wants the mob to assassinate Fidel Castro. [Target Lancer]

October 1960
Miami Beach, FL – NH meets with Sam Giancana, Johnny Rosselli, and Santo Trafficante about the Castro assassination, and they agree to take it on. [Target Lancer]

c1961
Reference: NH, for the CIA, approached Sam Giancana about assassinating Fidel Castro. [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

June 1961
Reference: A1DA has “many operatives” [“Pinch-Hitter”]

Chicago, IL – hired by Bill Veeck (baseball executive) to investigate death of Eddie Gaedel (midget baseball player) [“Pinch-Hitter”]

May 23 – July 29, 1962
Reference: A1DA has locations in L.A., Manhattan, and the original Chicago office. NH is in L.A. interviewing new detectives with partner Fred Rubinski. L.A. office still located in the Bradbury Building (southeast corner of Third and Broadway), and had expanded to four suites on the fifth floor with ten operatives – eight male and two female. NH and Rubinski are part owners of Sherry’s, a restaurant, which they sell by 1963. Chicago office still in the Monadnock Building in the Loop where the agency had a large corner suite with a bullpen for its over ten agents and private offices for NH and semi-retired partner Lou Sapperstein, who was in his early seventies. NH’s ex-wife lives in L.A. with their son. [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

NH and son attend filming of Marilyn Monroe’s new movie (Something’s Got to Give!). Later Monroe asks NH to tap her phones, then Jimmy Hoffa hires him to spy on Monroe. With Peter and Pat Lawford, Bobby Kennedy, Joe Dimaggio, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Rosselli, Sam Giancana. [Bye Bye, Baby: Something’s Got to Give!]

August 5 -12, 1962
NH investigates Marilyn Monroe’s death with Flo Kilgore. With Peter Lawford, Thad Brown, Bobby Kennedy. He kills the person who did the actual killing, but the instigators are too highly placed. [Bye Bye, Baby: What a Way to Go!]

Late summer, 1962
Reference: Las Vegas is A1DA’s newest branch. [Ask Not]

New Orleans, LA – NH working for Paul Fudala. Meets with Carlos Marcello (mob boss of Louisiana) who threatens JFK. [Ask Not]

October 25, 1963
Reference: A1DA took up much of the seventh floor of the Monadnock Building in Chicago, and included fourteen local agents with branch offices in Los Angeles and Manhattan. Tom Ellison had once “done some flack [public relations] jobs for me when he worked for a local agency.” [Target Lancer]

Chicago, IL – Tom Ellison asks NH for a (payable) favor to watch his back when he hands over an envelope of cash to “Jake” in the 606 Club. With Louis Nathan (Club 606), Jack Ruby, Lee “Osborne” [Harvey Oswald].

October 26, 1963
Reference: For a couple of years, NH lives in the top two floors of a brick three story house on Eugenie Street, one block north of North Avenue, in Chicago, which was purchased by his agency. The first floor is used as a guest apartment by the agency. [Target Lancer]

Chicago, IL – NH has a date with Sally Rand, who he hasn’t seen in about ten years. [Target Lancer]

October 27, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH attends a Bear’s football game as a guest of Jimmy Hoffa, who wanted to know NH’s connection with Tom Ellison. With Sally Rand.
[Target Lancer]

October 28, 1963
Reference: A1 office manager Gladys Fortunate (“I hired her in the early ‘40s”) married Lou Sapperstein (“now a full partner”) about 10 years ago.

Chicago, IL – At the invitation of the police, NH finds murdered Tom Ellison at the Pick-Congress Hotel. He meets with Tom’s wife that evening, and agrees to investigate Tom’s death. With Sally Rand, Jimmy Hoffa. [Target Lancer]

October 29, 1963
Chicago, IL – A Secret Service agent (Eben Boldt) escorts NH to Bobby Kennedy at the Glenview Naval Air Station, who drafts him as a special investigator attached to the Justice Department on loan to the Treasury Department, to work with the Secret Service and help protect JFK during his upcoming visit to Chicago. [Target Lancer]

October 30, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH talks to a man (Thomas Vallee) who threatened to kill the president. That evening he runs into Jack Ruby at a strip club. With Sally Rand, Candy Barr. [Target Lancer]

October 31, 1963
Chicago, IL – Chuckie Nicoletti and Mad Sam DeStefano, mob hitmen, are sent by Johnny Rosselli to fetch NH, who drives himself to see Rosselli. With Sally Rand. [Target Lancer]

November 1, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH and a Secret Service agent capture two Puerto Ricans who are suspected of plotting to assassinate the president. [Target Lancer]

November 2, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH finds and kills two assassins just before finding out the president cancelled his trip to Chicago. The CIA and the Secret Service cover up his involvement. He suspects a conspiracy to assassinate the president, and Dick Cain (Chicago Police/Cook County Sheriff/CIA operative/mob hitman) of involvement in the killing Tom Ellison. [Target Lancer]

November 22, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH learns of JFK’s assassination at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in the company of Miss November. [Ask Not]

November 29, 1963
Chicago, IL – NH meets Eben Boldt & wife at a south side club to listen to Muddy Waters & Band and finds out more about the conspiracy that culminated in the death of JFK. [Target Lancer]

Summer 1964
Reference: NH runs into Deacon Jones, defendant in Massie trial, at Palmer House restaurant in Chicago [Damned in Paradise]

September 5, 1964
Reference: Sam Jr. “would be seventeen later this month…” NH still living in the three-story brick home on Eugenie Street, with the ground level furnished apartment used by A1DA. [Ask Not]

Chicago, IL – A1DA providing personal security for the Beatles enables NH and son meet the Beatles, and attend their concert that evening. Afterward, attempt made to kill NH by one of the Cubans who were involved in the attempted assassination of JKF in early November 1963. [Ask Not]

September 8, 1964
Reference: A1DA has been on retainer with Playboy since 1955. [Ask Not]

Chicago, IL – NH meets with Edward Shepherd of the CIA at the Playboy club to find out if the CIA is trying to kill him. [Ask Not]

September 12, 1964
Los Angeles, CA – NH meets with Johnny Rosselli at Chasen’s restaurant. [Ask Not]

September 14, 1964
Reference: A1DA on seventh floor of the Monadnock building in Chicago.

Lou Sapperstein still Vice-President (Fred Rubinski is listed as Vice-President at Los Angeles office). Millie (aka Mildred), late twenties, is the receptionist, and Gladys Sapperstein is still the office manager (hired in 1939, now about 60 years-old. Three Negro employees at this time. NH’s ex-wife, Margaret “Peggy” “Maggie” Hagen, was the niece of Jim Ragen, who ran a racing wire service in Chicago for bookies nationwide, and was killed when he refused to sell out to the Outfit. [Ask Not]

Chicago, IL – A1DA takes on a case involving the suicide of his client’s husband (Joseph Plett), and connections with Billy Sol Estes. [Ask Not]

September – October 1964
Reference: Bill Queen, ex-NYPD cop, is an agent of the Manhattan branch of the A1DA. [Ask Not]

Waco, TX – NH meets Captain Clint Peoples of the Texas Rangers to discuss the suicide of his client’s husband. He’s directed to investigate MacWallace, with the implication that LBJ may be indirectly involved. [Ask Not]

Dallas, TX – NH meets an old flame, stripper Jada (Janet Adams), who works where Mac Wallace is known to frequent, and who also worked for Jack Ruby. After confronting Wallace, NH’s client is notified that her insurance claim will be paid. Later he meets with Flo Kilgore who is in Dallas investigating the JFK assassination, and who wants to hire NH. [Ask Not]

Buffalo, NY – NH talks with Bobby Kennedy about working for Flo Kilgore. [Ask Not]

November 1964
Dallas, TX – NH and Flo Kilgore interview many witnesses over several days. They also interview Jack Ruby at the Criminal Courts Building. With Jada (Janet Adams), Barney Ross. [Ask Not]

Chicago, IL – NH gets a call from Flo Kilgore’s husband in New York telling him that Flo is dead of overdosing with “booze mixed with pills.” [Ask Not]
Riverside, IL – NH talks with Chuckie Nicoletti about Johnny Rosselli. [Ask Not]

New York, NY – NH visits Flo Kilgore’s home and interviews three individuals: her husband, hairdresser, and assistant. [Ask Not]

New Orleans, LA – Trying to keep from getting killed, NH goes to New Orleans to find out is Carlos Marcello had Flo Kilgore killed. NH is “taken for a ride” by Mac Wallace, and ends up killing him and two others. He warns Marcello of consequences should NH die unexpectedly. With Jada (Janet Adams), Jim Garrison. [Ask Not]

Chicago, IL – NH meets Edward “Shep” Shepherd at the Playboy club and discusses the JFK assassination and cover up. NH tells him not to contact him again. [Ask Not]

February 14, 1970
Boca Raton, FL – NH hired by JT “Buddy” Walsh to go to Saipan with him to find grave of Amelia Earhart [Flying Blind]

March 1970
Saipan – [Flying Blind: Epilogue]

December 1973
Chicago, IL – NH arranges for killing of Dick Cain in retribution for death of Tom Ellison. [Target Lancer]

1980
Reference: NH and wife attend USS Arizona memorial dedication at Pearl Harbor [Damned in Paradise]

February 1982
Reference: NH still chairman of the board of A1DA, but his son is president, working out of LA [Angel in Black]

Los Angeles, CA – NH talks with writer about Black Dahlia case. Kills Arnold Wilson [Angel in Black]

1990
Fred Rubinski dies. [Bye Bye, Baby: What a Way to Go!]

1991
Reference: NH partially responsible for exhumation of Dr. Carl Weiss, presumed assassin of Huey Long. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

1994
Reference: NH retired in Boca Raton with his second wife. Son Sam runs A1DA and its six branches. NH has some grandchildren. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

2002
Reference: NH still alive. [Better Dead: Deep Creek]

A Movie We Didn’t Walk Out On

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

The truth of it is, Barb and I rarely walk out of movies. But when we do, I usually post a rant about it here at the weekly update.

This week we saw Tomb Raider somewhat accidentally – I was trying to drag Barb along to see Pacific Rim: Uprising, having really liked the first movie, but we were there to see it in 3-D, as the Internet had assured us this screening would be.

It wasn’t.

So Barb and I went to Tomb Raider in 3-D instead.

We entered about a minute late, because of the Pacific Rim screw-up. This is rare, as I hate not seeing a movie from the very beginning. But we had made a trip to Quad Cities to see a movie in 3-D and I will not be denied, at least not with such important matters.

Anyway, we had seen the preview of Tomb Raider, thought it looked like a passable Saturday or Sunday afternoon matinee. We were wrong. Surprise: it’s more than that. It is a very good, rip-roaring, occasionally amusing, sometimes exciting and even scary Indiana Jones-type adventure, a sort of haunted house of a movie wherein the ghosts are 1940s serials.

Is it a great movie? No. But it delivers on what it promises – imagine that! Yes, it’s a movie based on a video game, and those underpinnings are there, and typically silly. But if you take the ride, assuming such a ride sounds like fun to you, you will be pleased. This reboot is superior to the earlier Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie (the second of those being particularly dire). Alicia Vikander is intelligent and charismatic as Lara Croft, and the villain is played by the great Walton Goggins of Justified and Vice Principals. A number of fine British actors pop up here and there, too. Oh, and a tomb is raided.

By the way, among the many things that make going to movies in theaters less and less appealing is the general stupidity of the audiences. I refer not to what they seem to put up with (we were surrounded by people in Red Sparrow who seemed to like it, apparently sadomasochists) but actual sheep-like, lemming-like stupidity.

When Barb and I entered Tomb Raider a minute or two late, it was clear we were not in a 3-D screening. Since we were only here because the film we came for was not in 3-D, as advertised, that this one wasn’t in 3-D was…an irritant. Everyone had their 3-D glasses on. No 3-D was happening. No one seemed to notice or care, though everyone had paid extra for the 3-D experience.

We went out to the lobby, reported the lack of 3-D and the mistake was rectified. The movie was in 3-D now. But if Barb and I hadn’t gone out to the lobby, Tomb Raider would have played flat, much like the graph line of mental activity in the brains of the rest of the attendees.

This is not the first weird thing that has happened to me at the movies lately, not hardly.

On my birthday (my 70th, goddamnit and get off my lawn), Barb and I were visiting our son Nathan, his bride Abby and our hilarious genius grandson, Sam. Nate and I left the rest of the brood home and went to a movie, driving some distance to see Annihilation, a s-f film about which more later. I bought my popcorn and Coke Zero and we were soon seated in the theater. About two minutes into the film, someone came in.

This someone was stomping on the floor and laughing manically. Not an exaggeration – if the Joker had been there, he’d have said, “Who’s the lunatic?” The somewhat late arrival stomped slowly up the steps and took a seat in back, making this weird, loud sort of laugh as he went.

I immediately turned to Nate and said, “Let’s go.”

He understood and nodded. We exited quickly and quietly.

Here’s the thing. We were in St. Louis, a big city. For the first time in my life, during which I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands of movies in theaters, I have never thought I might be in danger. But my response now was instant: this person may be here to kill us.

I’m not going to go into a rant about gun control and mental health and school shootings and movie house mayhem. I am going to let you conjure all that yourself. But it says a lot that I did not hesitate to leave at once in the circumstances described above. Nate and I both wondered if we were overreacting. But neither of us wanted to sit through a movie with someone loudly making noise in the back row (which I figured was a good spot for a shooter, but never mind) even if our lives weren’t in potential danger.

We scouted for another movie on another screen and were spotted by someone with the theater, wondering what we were up to. We reported the incident (if that’s what it was) and, eventually, were given a refund. We drove quite a while to another theater where we indeed saw Annihilation, which is interesting but pretentious, and needlessly unpleasant…or was I not for some reason in the mood for a violent movie?

* * *

I have completed Girl Most Likely. I am setting it aside for much of the rest of the week, to dig into the Scarface and the Untouchable galley proofs…all 700 pages. When I’m done, I will return to Girl with some distance and will do the final read-through, tweaking, chasing down typos and fixing errors and inconsistencies. Should be shipping it in about a week.

Right now I feel very pleased. I think I’ve done something different enough to attract some new readers and not so different as to alienate the rest of you.

Meanwhile, Barb is doing very well on her draft of the new Antiques novel. Her steady development as a writer is impressive and a little scary.

* * *

Here is an absolutely splendid Cinema Retro review of The Last Stand, dealing both with the title story and “A Bullet for Satisfaction,” which I co-wrote.

The Mystery Site has posted a smart review of The First Quarry.

The Criminal Element has chosen The Last Stand as one of the five new books you should read.

And, finally, the indefatigable Jeff Pierce provides several links pertaining to Mickey Spillane and me.

M.A.C.