Posts Tagged ‘True Detective’

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.

Nate Heller, Chuck Berry, and Five Free Books!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022
No Time to Spy Cover
E-Book: Amazon
Paperback: Amazon

Finally, our book giveaway of No Time to Spy, the massive collection of the John Sand trilogy, has arrived. We have only five (5) copies to give away. As usual, you agree to write an Amazon review (and/or at any other review site, like Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, your own blog, etc.). [All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support! — Nate]

We really need the reviews, as No Time to Spy has stalled out at a meager 18 ratings. By way of contrast, the new Quarry’s Blood already has 34 (and thank you for that!). Now, I understand John Sand and Quarry are two different animals, but the individual titles in the Sand series have fared very well (229 ratings for Come Spy with Me for an average of four stars).

If you have read the trilogy as it came out, novel by novel, and liked what you read, please consider reviewing the collection at Amazon to help build up interest. Right now it’s looking like the fourth Sand, resolving a hell of a cliffhanger (if Matt Clemens and I may be so bold to suggest), will never be written.

On this subject – and I think I’ve made this clear before – I am well aware that not everything I write appeals to the same group of readers. Right now I’m working on The Big Bundle, the new Nate Heller novel (about 2/3’s in), and am cognizant of the fact that what some readers relate to in my work is my first-person voice. That’s not just one voice, of course – Mike Hammer and Quarry and Heller are not the same voice, but they are variations on my voice and reflect whatever facility I may have in first person. Some readers may not relate as well to a third-person voice, as used in John Sand, Nolan, the Perdition prose novels and more.

And some people who like, say, Quarry like to lambast me when I write anything else. But I need to stay fresh and nimble and that requires writing different things, although mostly I work in suspense/mystery. But I get it. I have writers whose work I like who occasionally throw me a curve I can’t catch. One of my favorite writers is Mark Harris – his baseball trilogy (The Southpaw is the first, Bang the Drum Slowly is the most famous) is to me a marvel of first-person storytelling.

Harris, who I met and then corresponded with, saw himself as a literary writer and throughout his career he tried all kinds of things. Usually I at least like what he did, at times I loved what he did, but on a few occasions I didn’t connect with him at all. When someone dislikes my work in general, I like to say the reader and I are not a good fit. When someone who likes some of what I do complains about a work that doesn’t work for him or her, I chalk it up similarly – that reader isn’t a good fit with that particular work.

A good example is the Antiques series that Barb and I write together. These are cozy mysteries, albeit somewhat of a subversive take on that sub-genre, told in the first person by two narrators. The novels combine what we think are good solid mysteries with a lot of fairly off-the-wall humor. A surprising number (surprising to me) of readers of noir-ish things of mine like Quarry, Heller and Hammer also like these books. But I completely understand the readers who, despite generally being fans of mine, don’t cotton to Brandy and Vivian Borne.

Writing this new Heller raises a number of issues in my aging mind. I understand that some fans of my Quarry and Nolan and Hammer novels don’t respond to Heller, despite my own feeling that the Heller saga is my signature work. While the Heller books have the violence and sex for which I am known and loved, they also are long books…this one will be 80,000 words and I believe Stolen Away was 125,000 words…and they are more detailed and explore the historical crimes they’re dealing with in depth. The violence and sex stuff is there, but not every other chapter.

The Big Bundle cover

Another factor I’m facing is the degree of difficulty. Even now I can write a Quarry novel in a month. The real-life case I’m dealing with in The Big Bundle is not as complicated (or frankly as famous) as, say, the assassination of Huey Long (Blood and Thunder) or the disappearance of Amelia Earhart (Flying Blind). But at this age I have to review the research extensively before working on a chapter covered by that material; this includes new research, beyond the several months of reading that preceded the writing, stuff I’m picking up on the fly.

I also find I am re-plotting several times as I go along. That happens with any novel, because I don’t let my synopsis dictate things – if characters want to do something different, I let them. If something occurs to me as an interesting turn to take, I take it.

That’s all well and good, but in a Heller novel I am dealing with history. The first book, True Detective, in the very title established the rules: these would be true stories. I allow myself some liberties – time compression and occasional composite characters are typical elements in a Heller. But mostly it’s just the facts, ma’am, presented in the context of a private eye novel and striving to come up with the truth…most happily (as has been often the case) with a new solution to a controversial real mystery.

What I am up against now is that pesky degree of difficulty. I think I’m writing as well as ever (possibly self-delusion, but it keeps me going). With Heller, however, the amount of time for me to feel I get it right is at odds with the speed at which I was long able to work. I understand that’s a function of old age; but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. Just annoying. Frustrating.

I have committed to one more Heller after this one – the two books will complete the cycle of Heller novels involving JFK and RFK. Bobby Kennedy isn’t in The Big Bundle much, but he’s a vital element; next time he will be the focus.

I have been expecting to spend my remaining writing years with a focus on Heller. I am nearing the end of the Hammer manuscripts, and I’ve written and published endings to Nolan and Quarry (two each!). But I question whether I am up to the Heller degree of difficulty in relation to how much time it takes to arrive at what satisfies me.

On top of this are newer projects – like Fancy Anders and John Sand – that interest me. I am extremely proud of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton; it’s one of my best books (thank you Dave Thomas!). Barb and I are developing a standalone thriller, and I’m doing three novellas for Neo-Text on unlikely American heroes. There a few more Spillane/Hammer books left to write.

But Heller is what I’m proudest of. Probably the deciding factor will be if I can’t hit the mark, can’t write about him in a way that pleases me.

One interesting thing about Heller is how writing the books can lead me into rewarding areas that I didn’t anticipate. In Big Bundle, I decided to do a scene in St. Louis at a club where Chuck Berry was playing. Berry isn’t being used as a famous historical character in the novel – it’s just me looking for a fun setting for a scene.

That’s always a problem in private eye novels. The form is basically a series of interviews with witnesses and suspects – look at The Maltese Falcon. So I try in Heller (well, in all novels that touch on the PI form) to use interesting locations. With an historical saga like Heller’s, it’s an opportunity to suggest the times and put the place in context – using famous defunct restaurants, for instance.

Chuck Berry at the Cosmo

I read about the Cosmopolitan Club, where Berry basically put rock ‘n’ roll on stage for the first time, and found that the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987) had refurbished the defunct East St. Louis club for a mini-concert celebrating (and sort of recreating) Berry’s tenure there. I got caught up in the documentary and it got me interested in Berry and his music, which I had frankly (stupidly) taken for granted. On reflection, I was reminded that everything from the Beach Boys to the Beatles came from him, and recalled how many, many songs of his my various bands had played.

So I sent for another documentary (Chuck Berry, 2018), and several books, and three CD’s. That’s a bonus that comes out of the Heller research – I stumble onto things that are only tangential to the book at hand but that roar into the centerstage of my personal interests.

If you’ve never seen Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, by the way, you haven’t lived till you watch Chuck Berry schooling Keith Richards on how to play rock ‘n’ guitar. One particular sequence is singled out as demonstrating how difficult Chuck could be; but for those of us who’ve played in bands, we know: Chuck was right.

One bittersweet aspect was my realization that I had blown a great opportunity. My son Nate lived in St. Louis for better than half a decade, and during that time Barb and I visited him (and later, Nate and his wife Abby, and later than that, grandson Sam too) often. Meanwhile, hometown boy Chuck Berry was playing once a month at Blueberry Hill, a fantastic club in the Delmar loop. And I – we – didn’t bother to see him.

As Fats Domino would say, “Ain’t that a shame.”

* * *

This Paperback Warrior review of Quarry’s Blood appeared on my birthday, March 3, and I couldn’t ask for a better present.

The New York Times recommended ten books last week, and Quarry’s Blood was one of them.

Finally, Daedalus Books has the hardcover of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher for $6.95.

M.A.C.

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!…Right?

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
Do No Harm

In the writing game, you never know when – or even if – honors will come your way. I’ve been lucky, and I mark the first big non-Dick Tracy career breakthrough for me as winning the Best Novel “Shamus” from the Private Eye Writers of America for True Detective in 1984. That put me, and Nate Heller, on the map.

A second Heller win (Stolen Away), and numerous Heller nominations over the years, culminated with the PWA honoring the series itself with the Hammer Award for its contribution to the genre. Then, for the last several Heller novels, it’s been quiet…too quiet.

Now, I am thrilled to say, the most current Nathan Heller novel, Do No Harm, has been nominated for the Best Novel “Shamus” by the PWA.

I spent several decades of my writing life supplementing my Heller and other novels with tie-in writing, doing novelizations of movies and original novels of popular TV series, the latter often with Matthew V. Clemens (we’re doing our John Sand series together at Wolfpack currently). One of the frustrations about writing media tie-in novels had always been the lack of respect and attention they got, quite apart from their quality (or for that matter lack of it).

My fellow tie-in writer Lee Goldberg – an actual TV screenwriter in addition to author of novels tied-in with shows where he’d contributed scripts, Monk and Diagnosis: Murder among them – had been thinking about starting an organization like the MWA and PWA for tie-in writers. I was having the same thought at the same time, and both of us had a particular goal of having annual awards, including a grand master award.

We threw in together and founded the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers in 2006, and created the Scribe Awards for various categories, with the Faust as a grand master award. Faust refers not only to the Faustian bargain tie-in writers agree to with the owners of the properties, but also to Frederick Faust, aka Max Brand, a prolific writer whose creations included Destry (of Destry Rides Again fame) and Dr. Kildare (for which he wrote his own novelizations).

Lee and I stepped down from leadership a few years ago, but the organization – now led by multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning suspense author Jonathan Maberry – is still going strong.

On the heels of the Shamus nomination, I received a second, rather overwhelming honor from the IAMTW, and have been chosen this year’s Faust winner – my third lifetime achievement award (preceded by the Eye from the PWA and the Grand Master Edgar from MWA), which is either an incredible honor bestowed upon me by my peers, or an indication that they think I’ve lived long enough.

Maybe both.

At any rate, I am shocked and pleased by this honor. The previous Faust winners include some of the best writers in the business (not just the tie-in business). I was further honored by a Best Novel “Scribe” nomination for the newest Mike Hammer, Masquerade for Murder.

All of these honors are wonderful, but the greatest honor of all is being married to Barbara Collins for 53 years. We’ve been together 55 – starting to go together at Muscatine Community College in 1966 – and getting married on June 1, 1968.

For our most ambitious post-lockdown day trip, Barb and I went to a favorite spot of ours, Galena, Illinois, to celebrate our anniversary. The accompanying picture is of us at Vinny Vanucchi’s, our favorite Galena restaurant. We shopped and just enjoyed a lovely day, but also stopped by the police department to see Chief Lori Huntington.

Lori is retiring after nine years in that position, and almost thirty years in Galena law enforcement. She was my consultant on both The Girl Most Likely and The Girl Can’t Help It. I could lie and say she was the inspiration for Chief Krista Larson in those novels, but I had conceived of that character before discovering that Galena indeed had a female chief of police.

But knowing Lori, and talking to her at length over the writing of the two novels, meant she had a huge impact on how the character was shaped, as well as keeping me honest about law enforcement in her little town – a tourist center that can see a million visitors, easily, in a year. She has generously agreed to let me stay in touch should I get around to writing a third Krista and Keith Larson novel, which I hope to do.

* * *

Barb and I finally finished listening to – thanks to the Galena drive – the audio book of Do No Harm. What a terrific job Dan John Miller did! He especially nails famous defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey (who passed away recently).

You may recall my continued praise for one of my favorite movies, Anatomy of a Murder. There’s a terrific write-up about the film at AV Club here.

Kristen Lopez has a wonderful podcast called Ticklish Business on which I guested. We discussed the 1964 version of The Killers. I think you’ll enjoy this. Kristen and her equally young female cohorts Drea Clark and Samantha Ellis talk pop culture in a way that gives me hope for the future (there’s an emphasis on classic film).

Here’s a wonderfully insightful review of the paperback of Mike Hammer in Kiss Her Goodbye (with my original uncensored ending)

A “great Tom Hanks gangster movie just hit Netflix” – wonder what it is?

Here’s a terrific review of Two for the Money, the HCC two-fer of Bait Money and Blood Money.

M.A.C.

Live Fast, Try Hard to Find It…Shoot-Out Where?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

You apparently can pre-order the print version of Live Fast, Spy Hard at Amazon now, although for some reason the book doesn’t turn up when you search anywhere except at the listing for Come Spy With Me, which provides a link to the next book (this one) in the John Sand series. Since the book in both Kindle and trade Paperback is being published this week, that’s a little disconcerting. But there’s no reason not to go ahead and pre-order here.

Matt Clemens and I are already working on the third novel, To Live and Spy in Berlin.

Matt and I are both longtime Bond/Ian Fleming/’60s-era spy fiction fans. I have told here, a number of times, how I gravitated to Ian Fleming when I ran out of Mickey Spillane books to read, and that I was a Bond fan well before the first movie came out. And that I talked my parents into driving me, on a school night, to Davenport – thirty miles away – to see Dr. No. I was in junior high.

If you drop by here regularly, or even now and then, you may be aware that I wrote novels every summer during my high school years and spent the following school year trying (unsuccessfully) to market them. There were four such novels, the first three starring private eye Matt Savage, but the fourth of the novels – the last of the high school novels – was a Bond imitation about spy Eric Flayr (I don’t remember the novel’s title). I was very much caught up in the spy mania, as were many of my male schoolmates. We carried briefcases to school (after From Russia With Love) and were caught up in an imaginary plot to overthrow the school.

It seemed innocent then.

So writing about John Sand, the spy James Bond was based on (the implied conceit of the series), has brought me full circle. I think Matt feels the same way. It’s gratifying that readers, so far, have responded well to the series and understand where we are coming from. We studiously avoid camp, but it’s fair to say we’re slightly tongue-in-cheek.

And we are grateful to Wolfpack, editor Paul Bishop, and publisher Mike Bray for allowing us to indulge ourselves in a fashion that appears to be entertaining readers.

The fact that you have to go hunting on Amazon to find the Live Fast, Spy Hard listing is an ongoing frustration to me. Any number of forthcoming titles of mine are not showing up when my name is searched, and yet my listings are littered with the works of other authors who Amazon is pushing to readers who enjoy my stuff. Here is a startling concept that seems to elude Amazon and its trusty algorithms – readers who like my stuff may wish to encounter the titles of things of mine they haven’t read. (NOTE: After further checking, searching “Max Allan Collins” on Amazon, the books don’t come up; but apparently without quotes those books do.)

Some interesting things have turned up on the web that I’d like to share with you.

Ron Fortier at Pulp Fiction Reviews is looking at each novel in the Caleb York western series, but he’s doing so out of order, as he’s able to get his hands on the various titles. Here he takes a splendid look at The Bloody Spur, book three in the Spillane/Collins series.


Hardcover:
E-Book: Google Play Kobo

There’s a new one coming soon, Shoot-out at Sugar Creek. Here’s a first look at the cover.

The Mystery File site has put a review from pulp fiction expert Art Scott of my long-ago Mallory title, Kill Your Darlings, from 1001 Midnights.

They have also posted a review by the late, very great John Lutz about the first Nathan Heller novel, True Detective. This is well worth looking at, particularly in light of the warmly received news that I will be doing two Heller novels for Hard Case Crime.

For reasons mysterious to me, my novelizations of the three Brendan Fraser Mummy movies appear to remain very popular (though out of print for decades now) and have generated a number of quotations at various web sites – like this one.

Finally, this is an hysterical (in several senses of the word) You Tube rant by a big guy who likes my novel Quarry till he finds out Quarry (whose name he hilariously mispronounces) weighs 155 pounds. Everything else about the book he seems to like, even love, but he refuses to read the rest of the series (despite salivating over the McGinnis covers) because Quarry isn’t a big guy. Dude – ever hear of Audie Murphy?

M.A.C.