Posts Tagged ‘Too Many Bullets’

No Book Today, No Antiques Giveaway (Sung to the Tune of “No Milk Today” by Herman’s Hermits)

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022
Antiques Liquidation Cover
Hardcover:
E-Book: Kobo

We would have liked on this update to announce a book giveaway for the Barbara Allan mystery, Antiques Liquidation, from Severn, the publication date of which is…today. But the copies we requested for the promotion have not yet arrived, so that will have to wait.

You may have more difficulty than usual finding this new novel about the comic misadventures of Brandy and Vivian Borne, because the last two books don’t seem to have made it into the Barnes & Noble buying system, at least not in any major way. Or BAM! either. That may change, and the handsome trade paperback of the previous one, Antiques Carry On, may be easier to find. (The return policy of our UK-based publisher is kinder on the trade paperbacks than the hardcovers.)

The focus of Severn (not exclusively, but their main market) is libraries, where the Trash ‘n’ Treasures mysteries have always been strong.

Barb is working on her draft of the next one, Antiques Foe (pun on “faux”) while I work on the Nate Heller RFK book, Too Many Bullets. We have another book on the Severn contract so there will be at least one more of those. Barb is making noises about wrapping up the series, and she may be serious, but she has been making that threat for the last several books. They read fast and are fun, but they are hard books to write.

A long-running series has its delights and pitfalls, which are sometimes the same thing, like the pleasure of spending time with old friends (Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe are too of my favorite people even though they never really existed) and the nagging feeling you’re repeating yourself.

Probably the best (and hardest) thing about writing the Nate Heller novels is that each real crime/mystery I deal with is so different from the others that I never fall into the trap so many mystery writers have in their series – writing the same book again and again. Chandler is as good they come and yet he worked a very small patch of farmland over and over and never even bothered to rotate the crops.

Even when a Heller has a similar crime – the forthcoming The Big Bundle, like Stolen Away, is about a kidnapping – the difference in eras and personalities involved as well as the circumstances of the crimes keeps thing nicely different.

Barb is endlessly inventive in ways to get the girls into trouble, and I hope she’ll do at least three or four more of ‘em.

* * *

I hesitate to talk about my health issues because it only gets people writing me with concern even as I come across alarmist and whiny. But just about everybody my age has health issues, and lately mine has been A-fib. I had the cardioversion procedure not long ago – the third or fourth I’ve had since my 2016 heart adventures began – but it didn’t take (this is where I am jump-started like an old Buick). I have to go back in to repeat the procedure later this month.

Prepping for it, I was put on a really strong medication that set me on my ass (a medical condition, obviously) whereby my shortness of breath and wheezing, related to the A-fib, got much, much worse. Last night was an utterly sleepless one. Obviously, a bad reaction to the meds.

So I have stopped taking that particular medication and am close to normal (as if I ever was) but I tire easily and will be lucky just to keep up with my work till I get this behind me.

There is a very good chance that stress is responsible, and of course that I am responsible for that stress. I am a rave and ranter. My wife, in her first-floor office, hears coming from above blistering flurries of obscenities and rage that would bring tears to the gentle eyes
of any United States Marine. I am trying to keep in mind the mantra from Bill Murray in Meatballs – “It just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter….”

And it really doesn’t. But everything I’ve accomplished in my career has come out of enthusiasm and intensity, by caring more about my work than I logically should. My biggest concern right now is that I don’t die before finishing Too Many Bullets. Which is a dumb-ass thing to be thinking, particularly from a guy who has been finishing one Mickey Spillane novel after another.

The punchline of this self-pitying soliloquy is that that’s why his week’s update is so damn short.

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A Long Time Dead Cover
Softcover:
E-Book: Amazon Nook Kobo iTunes

Some very nice reviews for Kill Me If You Can, the 75th anniversary Mike Hammer novel, at Amazon. Here’s a link where you can read them (and order the book!).

A very nice review of the Hammer short story “Skin” appears at the essential site, Paperback Warrior. [“Skin” can be found in the short story collection A Long Time Dead. The e-book is currently only $2.99 at Amazon and B&N. –Nate]

Here’s an interesting look at the locations used shooting the film version of Road to Perdition.

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M.A.C.

Hear Me If You Can

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

The Skyboat audio version of Kill Me If You Can is available now, ahead of the September 20 release of the Titan hardcover edition. Stefan Rudnicki again narrates the novel as well as the five bonus Spillane/Collins short stories (two of which are Mike Hammer yarns) that are part of the 75th anniversary package.

I can’t say enough about the great job Stefan does. Having to fill the shoes of Stacy Keach is hardly an enviable job, but Stefan pulls it off. Skyboat has been a big supporter of my work, and recently signed to do new audio versions of Regeneration and Bombshell by Barb and me.

Kill Me If You Can audiobook cover
Digital Audiobook: Google Play Audiobook Store
Audiobook MP3 CD:
Audiobook CD:
* * *

Rehearsals are heating up for our local Muscatine, Iowa, presentation of Encore for Murder featuring Gary Sandy as Mike Hammer. (For those of you in the area, or considering a road trip, here’s the info.

We had a table read with Gary joining us by phone – a conference call set-up – and it went well. My co-director Karen Cooney has done a great job casting and getting the show on its feet. I’m getting more involved now, doing some fine-tuning, but this is a strong local cast and I’m very pleased. Karen and several others of us mounting the production were able to look at the auditorium and do some in depth planning – it’s a great venue, seating 600.

We start working with sound effects and music (the latter culled from Mickey’s 1954 record album, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story) this coming week, with a second Gary Sandy table read on Thursday.

* * *

A number of things are coming out soon – the aforementioned Kill Me If You Can and, on Oct. 4, Antiques Liquidation, which just got a snark-free review from Kirkus. Check it out:

Antiques Liquidation cover
ANTIQUES LIQUIDATION
BY BARBARA ALLAN

The mother-daughter pair of Vivian and Brandy Borne may appear to be simple antiques dealers, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.

When Vivian wakes Brandy at 2 a.m. to get a jump on a warehouse full of things that are going to be auctioned off soon—thanks to some sensitive information Vivian has about Conrad Norris, the auctioneer—Brandy gathers up her dog, Sushi, and they all drive to the warehouse where Norris awaits. They leave with a barrel of pearl buttons that Sushi picks out, two valuable toy arks, and a set of dishes. When the auction itself takes place, Norris is drunk and many people are left unsatisfied. Vivian does buy something, though—she couldn’t resist attending the auction, even having picked off some items beforehand—and when she and Brandy return to the warehouse to pick it up, they find Norris dead. Naturally, Chief of Police Tony Cassato—Brandy’s fiance—is called in. Vivian fancies herself a sleuth, and she and Brandy have solved quite a few murders together—a fact that does not incline Tony to want their help. Vivian drags Brandy along on her investigations, knowing that Norris was far from beloved by many people. Someone steals the ark Brandy had given to her best friend’s daughter, but Brandy is hesitant to finger the two collectors she knows fought fiercely to buy the remaining arks at the auction. Vivian and Brandy may be amateur detectives, but they know a hawk from a handsaw and are determined to track down the killer, especially once a skeleton is found in their button barrel, opening up a long-dead case.

Amusing mystery chockablock with antiques lore.

We intend to have book giveaways on both Kill Me If You Can and Antiques Liquidation, so stay tuned.

Before too very long we should be seeing the publication of Fancy Anders for the Boys and Cut-out from Neo-Text. These will be available both as e-books and physical books. (Cut-out is a Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins collaboration.)

And the new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, will be out in hardcover from Hard Case Crime in early December.

I am about to begin the writing of Too Many Bullets, the RFK assassination Heller novel, after months of research. Those months will mean that the flow of books out of here will lessen next year, probably to just three. Some of this has to do with me deciding to slow down because I’m (damnit) 74. Some of it has to do with the amount a research that goes into any Heller novel, but this one has been unexpectedly onerous.

Like a lot of Americans, I assumed the Sirhan Sirhan assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was an open-and-shut case. I knew there were doubts and expected to explore them. But I did not (although I should have) expect the number of rabbit holes I’d be drawn down into.

After filling three notebooks, I have fashioned a rough synopsis, which I will be refining and expanding starting this afternoon. I hope to be writing this week.

As I’ve mentioned, I had intended this novel to cover Jimmy Hoffa material in a lengthy (middle section of the book) flashback. But as an echo of what happened to me writing True Detective in 1981 and ‘82, I found myself facing a book of potentially 1000 pages and had to retool.

(What happened with True Detective is that it turned into two books, the second one being True Crime, the first section of which was planned as the final section of True Detective.)

So Hoffa will probably become a separate book, out of chronology (although there hasn’t really been a linear chronology for Heller since after Neon Mirage).

I know some of you would prefer I write about Quarry or even Nolan (a few still request Mallory). I will indeed write about Quarry again, if I’m able, though I’ve stuck a fork in Nolan with Skim Deep. Of course, if the Lionsgate production of a Nolan film actually happens, I’ll be tempted to sell out. There’s always another story to tell if there’s money involved.

Mallory seems almost certainly a “no.” He was too on-the-nose “me.” I prefer the slightly off-kilter “me” of Heller and Quarry. And of course I’m occasionally called upon to channel Mike Hammer.

* * *

Speaking of Nate Heller, here’s an essay that includes the Heller saga as among the best novels that deserve to be made into TV shows.

Road to Perdition is recommended as one of the best movies to watch on Paramount+ right now.

An in-depth and very positive overview look at my series of Quarry novels – something that has rarely been done – can be found here.

M.A.C.

A Sumner/Collins Interview and Where To Find Sympathy

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

My friend and editor at Titan in the UK – the great Andrew Sumner – did an interview with me about the Mike Hammer novel being published September 13th (Kill Me If You Can) as part of the 75th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s great private eye.

Andrew has edited the last three or four Hammers, at my request. Several previous editors at Titan – while good, smart people – were not familiar with Hammer or Collins or the quirky way of American tough-guy argot. Andrew is, and he’s been a pleasure to work with.

I will spoil the punchline of the interview by revealing here that I have signed with Titan to complete the Mike Hammer Legacy series with two final Mike Hammer novels, to be published in 2023 and 2024. These final two books will, as have all of the books in this series of Collins completed novels, contain genuine Spillane content.

What an honor and pleasure it has been to undertake this task. It’s not entirely over, because a number of non-Hammer fragments remain that may generate Spillane novels, and there’s even the possibility of a couple of Hammer short stories. But the novel saga of Mike Hammer is drawing to a close, with the shelf of 13 expanding to 29 plus a short story collection (A Long Time Dead) rounding the series to an impressive 30.

I should also thank Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press, who published the first three Spillane/Collins Hammer novels (The Goliath Bone, The Big Bang and Kiss Her Goodbye, all under the Titan umbrella now) as well as the short story collection. Otto’s understanding and appreciation of Mickey and Mike’s legacy will continue with the January 2023 publication of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction (by James L. Traylor and myself).

This will be a somewhat short update because, frankly, I am dealing with a health issue. I hesitate to mention it because – as with the recent passing of our family dog, Toaster – this might elicit an outpouring of support, good thoughts and even prayers. Which is always appreciated, but I don’t think any of this is a big deal – just the price of living this long and trying to stay active.

One aspect of my heart problems – which my open-heart surgery in 2016 dealt with effectively – is an occasional recurrence of Afib. Some people can handle Afib as a part of their daily lives, but it throws me for a loop. Nonetheless I didn’t realize I’d slipped back into Afib until I took a previously scheduled PET stress test a few days ago.

I’d been dragging around and fighting sleepless nights for about a week, and had suffered through a band job where I could barely tear down and set up and tear down my keyboards, and where my performance was perfunctory at best. Having been through Afib several times before, I should have tipped to it immediately. But didn’t. The stress test had barely begun when the nurse informed me I was in Afib.

Actually, what she said was, “Did you know you were in Afib?”

I said I didn’t, managing not to proceed that with “duh,” as I’d been experiencing every symptom.

Anyway, luckily I am able to go in tomorrow (Monday) for cardioversion, which is essentially jump-starting your heart. Usually it’s just one long day in the hospital. This is Sunday as I write this, and will happen Monday, while this Update appears on Tuesday, so good wishes are not necessary – the shooting match will be over.

I share this with you because, obviously, it’s on my mind. I began writing F.O.M.A.C. (Friends and Family of Max Allan Collins) updates decades ago. This was prior to using the Internet for that purpose – these were literal, physical newsletters that went out once or twice a year, and announced bookstore and convention appearances, and let readers know what novels and comics and even movies were coming out.

At some point – and I have zero memory when – we moved this to the Internet, and again the occasional postings were prompted by appearances and publications. My son Nate suggested the infrequence and irregularity of these updates were not helpful and nudged me into more regular postings. Before long we switched to weekly ones.

Frankly I focused on promo of my work, links to favorable reviews, and not much else for a while, until again my son said I needed to be more personal (something he came to regret to a degree). Nate particularly encouraged me to pull back the curtain on the writing process – talking about how Nate Heller is researched and so on. To mix metaphors, to share how the sausage is made.

Now and then I wandered into politics and again my son warned me against it, and he was right. I weaken now and then, and still make no secret of my politics; but no real political opinion stuff appears here. What I drifted into was reviews and other discussion of popular culture, which I enjoy doing and get good response doing it. A more personal side began creeping in.

I was a big fan (and a friend) of Harlan Ellison’s. I told him often that I loved his collections of stories where he introduced and discussed his own work. I really loved (and love) that sense of who was behind the fiction being part of the mix. This has crept into my books, with introductions and afterwords (particularly of reprinted material), containing autobiographical looks at how novels or stories came to be written – for example, the convoluted tale of how Nolan began at Curtis Books in the early ‘70s, with only two of the five books seeing print by that company before they were swallowed up by Popular Library; and how the remaining three and one new one were picked up by Pinnacle in the ‘80s. And how Don Pendleton thought I was stealing from him because Nolan rhymed with Bolan.

And the Nolan story is a lot more complicated than that, but my essays about it can be found in the Hard Case Crime two-fer collections of the novels.

A turning point came in 2016 when I had open-heart surgery and wrote about the experience here. My writer pal Steve Mertz said that was some of my best stuff ever, and he knows whereof he speaks. So I have been more frank here, although my son from time to time protects me when I get out of hand…as when recently I went ballistic about a review that irritates me and he reminded me it was a three-year-old review and I should probably get over it. So we cut that bit.

Maybe someday I’ll collect some of the best of F.O.M.A.C. and let the censored stuff see the ill-advised light of day.

Anyway, this is a long-winded way to say that I don’t write about sad and personal and medical things here to get your sympathy. As my late friend Paul Thomas used to say (quoting his father), “If you want sympathy, it’s between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.”

Nonetheless, I want to thank you for reading these blog entries. With luck, I’ll see you here next week.

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This is an interesting column by a reader who has picked up Girl Most Likely and is experiencing it via the book and audio being able to sync up. She promises a review of the novel soon.

In the current entry of the Rap Sheet, J. Kingston Pierce talks about my announcement of Too Many Bullets, and how it will deal with “the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, he explains, but will also ‘cover both Jimmy Hoffa and Sirhan Sirhan,’” and how it may be the last Nate Heller novel. Turns out I am an unreliable narrator, because (with editor Charles Ardai’s blessing) I have already decided to turn Too Many Bullets into two Heller novels. Too Many Bullets will be the RFK assassination novel. The as yet untitled Heller after that will go back and deal with the Jimmy Hoffa story. This came about because – as is always the case – the research has led me places I did not expect to go.

Fifteen movies are recommended here, and one of them is Road to Perdition.

And Road to Perdition is also one of the best movies that have moved to Amazon Prime.

M.A.C.

A Darling Deal, and Heller on My Mind

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022
Kill Me, Darling cover
E-Book: Google Play Kobo

Another book deal has popped up, this time BookBub, and it applies to Kill Me, Darling, one of my favorite of the posthumous Spillane collaborations. I was working from a false start on The Girl Hunters where Velda’s disappearance didn’t have to do with Russia and espionage, but rather Florida and vice. (So in the Hammer canon Velda now disappears twice…not counting kidnappings.)

Anyway, I don’t understand BookBub and if someone wants to straighten me out, I’m fine with that. But it would appear this deal lasts for about a month. Like the still ongoing Girl Most Likely and Girl Can’t Help It offers, Kill Me, Darling is 99-cents on e-book. Unlike the Amazon deal, this extends to Nook and other e-book platforms.

Here’s how BookBub describes Kill Me, Darling:

From the authors of Murder Never Knocks. Private investigator Mike Hammer heads to Miami to find his ex-lover Velda — and figure out her connection to the disturbing murder of her old colleague. “Mike Hammer is undeniably an icon of our culture” (The New York Times).
$0.99 (regular price $7.99).

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Seduction of the Innocent band photo

You may have seen my Seduction of the Innocent bandmate Steve Leialoha’s query to me in the comments last week, regarding my current project, Too Many Bullets, Nate Heller looking into the RFK assassination. He asked me if I’d ever talked to Miguel about the night of the assassination at the Ambassador Hotel, saying that Miggie and his mom were there that night.

This was news to me, and I kicked myself, because I’ve known for years I would eventually do Bobby Kennedy, and I never discussed it generally with Miguel. Why would I? You might ask.

Well, Miguel was a big Nate Heller fan. He always requested signed copies to read on set in his trailer (actors have a lot of down time). We talked Heller a lot. We were hoping to do a movie at one point with him in the lead (the novella Dying in the Post-war World was written with that in mind). Didn’t happen but I sure do wish it had.

Miggie’s (and my) pal Bill Mumy, a fellow Seductive One, was…and probably still is…a Heller fan, too. Like Miguel, he has read Heller novels during on-set downtime, and after all he wrote the song “True Detective” for our CD, The Golden Age. I’m proud to have these two among Heller’s supporters. And it hurts that Miguel didn’t get to read any Heller past Ask Not. Maybe, somewhere, Miggie and Bill Crider and Ed Gorman are in a book club, keeping tabs on me.

Chris Christensen, the other Seduction bandmate, also reads Heller, or anyway he used to. Chris did the music for my documentaries Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane and Caveman: V.T. Hamlin and Alley Oop). Very talented guy, and like all the Seductive Ones nice and fun.

If you were unaware of my friendship with Miguel, or even if you were and this is old news, you may wish to read this post from January 2017. It’s one of my favorites.

That Miguel could have shared his memories about a tragic, historic night about which I have yet to write gives me an extra pang in an already sensitive part of my psyche. But it also points out how weird the experience of writing Nathan Heller can be.

Miguel and his mom (Rosemary Clooney!) had been at the Ambassador Hotel that wonderful-turned-terrible night, and in an odd way that connected me. I already had an odd Kennedy connection because Jackie Onassis had been my editor on a book I co-wrote with a political figure (a ghost job). I had spoken on the phone with her many times and got to know her in that “phone friendship” way that can be very real. I have a letter she wrote me saying what a great job I did on the book. My University of Iowa mentor, Richard Yates, had been a Bobby Kennedy speech writer, as I learned after I plucked a copy of The Enemy Within off my mentor’s shelf and saw that it had been warmly signed to him. My collaborator Dave Thomas is a fellow assassination buff who knows Paul Schrade and promises to connect me with him. Paul Schrade was standing in back of Bobby Kennedy that night and also got shot in the head, but survived and is now 97 and still researching the case he was in the middle of.

This brings up an interesting point or two. I never know, in doing a Heller, whether I should talk to living participants in the cases I explore. They tend to have their own agendas and I can get caught up in them. For years after writing Stolen Away, I got phone calls from two of the men who thought they were the Lindbergh baby (and one might have been). I need to have my own point of view. My own take.

The other thing is weirder yet. Barb and I were on our honeymoon in Chicago – we were married on June 1 – when the Robert Kennedy assassination occurred in the early hours of June 5. We were staunchly anti-war and were RFK supporters. The news, made strange by not being home at the time, hit us hard, but…and this is the weirdest thing…I remember that I felt (can’t speak for Barb) that American political assassination had become just something to be expected. I was in high school when JFK got it, and not long before Bobby was killed MLK had been taken down, and I was at least vaguely aware of Malcolm X being in the same category. I remember thinking, “So this is how it’s going to be now.”

Maybe the lone nuts decided to find a new hobby (they certainly have one now). Or maybe the powerful figures in the darkness moving chess pieces decided their moves were getting too obvious. But the next time I had a similar feeling was on Jan. 6, last year. I paused writing in my office and went downstairs to get something to drink, and flipped on the TV, and saw Trump’s mob crawling over the face of the Capitol like bearded ants.

And with a shrug I said softly to nobody, “That’s about right.”

It looked like this was how it was going to be now.

Getting back specifically to Nate Heller, my overriding job with all of these cases – unsolved or controversially solved – is to write a hard-hitting private eye novel, with the humor and sex and violence that people expect out of me. That I expect out of me. Part of a Heller novel can be disturbing and even sad, like Chinatown. But it also has to be exciting and interesting and, yes, fun. Like Chinatown.

So how do I face something as terrible, as nation-shaking as Bobby Kennedy’s death without trivializing it?

That is very much on my mind right now. Serving history. Serving my readers. And not doing either of them an injustice.

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Here’s a story about Mickey Spillane walking out on I, the Jury in 1953. Maybe it’s true. The sentiment on his part is accurate. But the movie’s actually pretty good.

The great James Reasoner writes about the collection of the Mike Hammer comic strip that I edited and introduced for Hermes Press a while back.

Nice Road to Perdition (the film) essay here.

This review looks at Headed for a Hearse by Jonathan Latimer and my introduction (which was written some time ago for an earlier edition, though the writer seems unaware of that). It’s a pretty good essay but drifts into the area of judging yesterday’s fiction by today’s politically correct attitudes. The reviewer better not read the first chapter of Farewell, My Lovely.

M.A.C.