Target Lancer Out Today

November 27th, 2012 by Max Allan Collins

Today (Nov. 27 2012) marks the official publication date of the new Nate Heller novel, TARGET LANCER, although it’s been spotted (snagged) in bookstores here and there for several weeks.

As is often the case, I didn’t receive my copies till just a few days ago (day before Thanksgiving). It’s a handsome book, and features a raised, foil title that is very attractive, and a nice surprise. I hope the book attracts some attention, both for Nate Heller and for the relatively unknown information about the JFK assassination that it reveals.

I am preparing to go out on a two-week book tour for TARGET LANCER, and I face a problem lots of writers do: my mind is filled with the novel I just completed, ASK NOT, the follow-up to LANCER, and I have to shift gears to discuss what to me is an “old” book.

I am happy and frankly relieved to have finished The JFK Trilogy (which began with BYE BYE, BABY). Funny thing – I have lately started to get “name-dropping” criticisms where Heller himself is concerned, and this goes back to the people who don’t grasp the concept of the saga…namely, that we are accessing and experiencing famous crimes/mysteries/events through the eyes of a traditional Chandleresque private detective. And that it is therefore necessary for past cases, however famous, to be mentioned and occasionally dealt with. I believe Heller and I do that with humor – nobody has to remind Heller that he’s been bodyguard to a shocking number of famous murder victims. To me it’s curious that nobody questions Perry Mason having hundreds of murder trials (factoring in the TV show – but even just the books it’s around 100) or Poirot and Nero Wolfe having seventy-some murder cases each, and so on. Readers seem to get the “suspension of disbelief” aspect of the genre in those cases. But some get tripped up by the famous nature of Heller’s cases and clients.

The fact is, Heller almost always fills the role (or roles) of somebody in history – often a real-life private eye. That lays a far more believable groundwork than any strictly fictional case could ever provide. And it occurred to me the other day that I had completed a JFK Trilogy in which JFK himself appears only once, in a not terribly flattering scene (in BYE BYE, BABY).

The reviews so far for TARGET LANCER have been stellar, but I anticipate getting the “name-dropping” dig again. One critic, who liked the book a lot, complained about Heller breaking the fourth wall and talking to the reader. That’s not going to stop, either.

If you still need a nudge, check out the sample chapter (the first) available at the fine Criminal Element web site. [Note from Nate: Leave a comment at that link before November 30 to enter a drawing for a free copy!]

Here’s a spiffy TARGET LANCER review you might want to check out.

And here’s a cool if short mention of LANCER.

Part one of a three-part in-depth look at my Nolan and Jon series has been posted at the Violent World of Parker (that’s Westlake’s Parker, not Spenser’s Parker). It’s very interesting and well-done, focusing on the first three novels (MOURN THE LIVING, BAIT MONEY, BLOOD MONEY), and not always loving them. That’s okay. I realize I was a precocious kid and talented but not really good yet. My God, MOURN was written, what? 44 years ago! As you might guess, I made a couple of comments that are posted there as well, which you may find worthwhile.

For those keeping track, I have just completed a screenplay called HOUSE OF BLOOD that I hope will be my next indie movie. It’s a back-door pilot for a Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories TV series (based on producer Carl Amari’s radio show that I’ve written about half of the scripts for). It may be a Kickstarter project, so stay tuned for lots more info.

Next up is a thriller called WHAT DOESN’T KILL YA. Matt Clemens is on board for this one, and we’re meeting today for him to deliver story and research materials he’s been working on. I start the book tomorrow, but it will be complicated by the two-week book tour.

You may have noticed I am going directly from one project into another (the screenplay, based on a radio script of mine, was started the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and completed the Sunday after), which is not ideal. But things got piled up on me this year. ASK NOT was a punishing project, particularly the research.

And I have also been very busy helping prepare fourteen back-list titles of mine for Thomas & Mercer to reprint – that’s fourteen covers, cover copy, galley proofs, etc., that had to be dealt with. These novels appear next month (that’s right, December 2012), as both trade paperbacks and e-books, and I’ll have more info for you soon.

Even with me working intermittently on the HOUSE OF BLOOD script, we managed to have a great Thanksgiving with Nate and his bride Abby and their demented dog Toaster. Barb cooked a fantastic traditional meal that calls into extreme doubt her insistence that she’s not a good cook. We saw an excellent 3-D movie, LIFE OF PI, which I highly recommend, and I spent so much on blu-rays on Cyber deals that I will probably have to keep this work pace up for another couple years. I even had a band job Saturday night at Ducky’s Lagoon in Andualusia, Illinois. So, yes, it was a busy weekend.

Next week, if I get ambitious, I may take a swing at rating the 24 James Bond films in order of excellence (and lack thereof) with my comments. Barb and I have been plowing through the 22-blu-ray boxed set. For the record, I don’t count the spoof movie of CASINO ROYALE (or the early TV show), but I do count NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. It has Sean Connery playing James Bond. That makes it more official than any movie with anybody else playing James Bond.

That doesn’t mean that some of the non-Connery movies aren’t better than a few of the lesser Connerys. But let me explain this – Sean Connery is James Bond the way John, Paul, Ringo and George are the Beatles. Everything else, however well played, is Beatlemania.


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9 Responses to “Target Lancer Out Today”

  1. Edmond D. Smith says:

    To hell with Heller’s critics. To me those things that seem to bother them are the very thing that makes the series so enjoyable. Is the name-dropping somewhat preposterous? Yeah and big deal. Most series have some conceits that place them somewhat out of the “real world”. Heller’s universe is internally consistent and abides by the rules it establishes. They are clever stories, well researched and terrifically satisfying. What more would any reader need?

  2. You put it much better than I did. Much appreciated.

    And hey, check out Nate’s new banner for TARGET LANCER! Wow. Nice job, son.

  3. patrick_o says:

    Okay, I’m sold on TARGET LANCER. To the bookstore at once! [60s Batman transition]

    When it comes to Bond, I like them all except for Lazenby, who kind of made a mess of one of my favourite Bond books. But I have never understood why people seem to hate Timothy Dalton so much. I particularly like LICENSE TO KILL and wish he’d made more. He didn’t, but at least we got GOLDENEYE as a sort of recompense.

  4. I found Lazenby a suitable place-holder. He might have worked out, if he’d been given proper direction and support (he was treated atrociously on set, which led to his own perceived misbehavior). Even so, OHMSS is a pretty terrific Bond film. I think Dalton’s reputation is improving. He is my favorite of the Bonds who aren’t Sean Connery, though Craig is close and actually so is Brosnan. I like Moore, but I prefer him as the Saint or even Beau Maverick to Bond, though (as is the case through the entire series) the bad decisions in his films were not his, but the producers’.

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