Heller in Progress; Notes on Dredd 3D & The Raid

September 25th, 2012 by Max Allan Collins

Updates for the next four to six weeks will be on the brief side, mostly likely, because I am burrowed in on the new Heller, ASK NOT. I will be going to Bouchercon before long, and as much as I look forward to it, I don’t relish the four-day interruption. I really keep my head in a novel while I’m doing it, and don’t like to have the flow disrupted. I tend to be spacey as hell (Barb does most of the driving) and a distracted danger to others. A Heller project is the most intensive of anything I do, because of the combination of character concerns and the voluminous research that I continue reading even during the writing stage. Later this week, for example, I need to write a chapter with a central if obscure historical figure (Texas Ranger Clint Peoples), and the book I ordered about him two weeks ago hasn’t arrived yet. What do I do? Skip that chapter and write it later? These are the kind of obstacles I face, writing a Heller.

The strong advance reviews for TARGET LANCER continue to roll in. Check this one out.

And the recent one-day Kindle sale of 10 Heller novels for $1.99 prompted some kind words about the series. This was one is particularly nice.

Nate and Abby visited us over the weekend – they had to: we kidnapped their dog Toaster after the wedding two weeks ago – and we had a great time going to restaurants and watching movies. Specifically, we watched two movies that were very similar. THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011) and DREDD 3D (2012). The former is an Indonesian production with a British director, and is one of the wildest and most effective action films I’ve ever seen. The latter is (I think) a British/South African production, based on the famous UK comic book series “Judge Dredd.” It is also terrific, and in many respects even better – a sort of urban ROAD WARRIOR (there’s a pun in there, since Karl Urban plays Dredd). DREDD makes use of 3D better than any live-action action film I can think of. The odd thing is that these two films have nearly identical plots and a number of strikingly similar scenes. Set-up is a raid on a gang-controlled slum apartment highrise where a big-shot gangster is manufacturing drugs, keeping the entire building under video surveillance; trapped within, the law-enforcement raiders must fight their way up and back down against crazy odds. DREDD 3D is nominally futuristic, but otherwise it’s the same premise. Numerous scenes appear to have been lifted from one film to the other. But here’s the truly odd thing: they were shot more or less simultaneously (DREDD began a few months prior). Whatever the case, both are highly recommended (RAID on home video, DREDD 3D in the theaters now – hurry for the latter, because its box-office is thus far lack luster).


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4 Responses to “Heller in Progress; Notes on Dredd 3D & The Raid”

  1. Spike says:

    That is a good review of Heller. My 5 faves are:

    True Detective
    True Crime
    Stolen Away
    Chicago Confidential
    Neon Mirage

    I like the Heller books that show us what Heller
    is all about, what he’s like. The famous people
    he deals with aren’t as interesting as Heller
    himself. If these books weren’t written in first
    person, they wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.
    Heller reminds me a lot of McDonald’s Travis McGee,
    only not as macho and one dimensional.

  2. I agree that the main thing in Heller is Heller himself. I sometimes think that gets lost in the shuffle. Often readers and reviewers who love the books will leave him (and the novels) off lists of favorite P.I.s and favorite P.I. novels. The books are thought of as historicals, but it was always my intent to write one of the great private eye series — the best of my generation (is my hope). I also view historical figures as fictional characters of my own creation, an odd mind-set but an effective one, for me anyway.

    Thanks for the nice comments.

  3. Spike says:

    I never think of them as historicals. They don’t read as historicals,
    those who call them that are mistaken. The historical characters
    are merely foils for Heller to play off of. They showcase him, not the
    other way around. They flatter him, they accomodate him, he’s the
    star, not them. Perhaps its because many of the readers are ignorant
    of history, thats why they think the books are historicals.

    Take Sinatra, for instance. I’ve read a dozen Sinatra biographies, as well
    as those of his cronies. When Frankie appears in a Heller book, its never
    to glamorize Frank Sinatra, its always to serve the ends of Heller. He uses
    historical figures, he’s the hero of the piece, not the other way around.
    He’s rarely in awe of these people, on the contrary, they are often in awe
    of him. Thats what makes these PI books interesting and unique. The famous
    come and go in Heller’s life, he’s not fascinated by them, he’s not asking for
    autographs, their lives are better for knowing Nate Heller. He’s always the alpha

  4. Speaking of your research on lesser-known real-life figures, one of the lawyers at the firm I worked at last year is the son of James Bacon, the Hollywood columnist who has a cameo in Bye Bye Baby. I told him I’d just read a novel in which his father was a character. He said his father never really explained to him how he got past the police cordon the day of Marilyn’s death. I enjoyed steering him to your novel; I think he bought the book too. Also, speaking as a native Tennessean whose father admired few politicians but always thought highly of Estes Kefauver, I liked your portrayal of him in Chicago Confidential. Heller’s the important character, the essential ingredient, but these real-life figures add plenty of spice to the recipe as well.