The Legend of Caleb York

April 28th, 2015 by Max Allan Collins
The Legend of Caleb York

E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

Audio MP3 CD:

Audio CD:


THE LEGEND OF CALEB YORK is available as a hardcover right now. I can wait while you order it. (Collins humming themes from “Maverick” followed by “Rawhide,” concluding with a rousing rendition of the title song of “The Gunfight at O.K. Corral”). (You have to admit the song would not be as cool if it were “The Gunfight in the Vacant Lot Between Two Buildings Adjacent to the O.K. Corral.” Not only do we sometimes have to print the legend, sometimes we have to sing it.)

Okay, you’re back? Just for your info, there’s an audio book, too, which I’ll report on once I’ve listened to it, and a large print edition for people with eyesight even worse than mine.

If you’re a fan of Mickey Spillane’s, or mine, or both, you will surely want to grab this. In the late 1950s, Mickey wrote a screenplay, “The Saga of Cali York,” for his pal John Wayne that never got produced. It was one of three unproduced screenplays waiting for me in the Spillane files that Mickey had his wife Jane turn over to me. I based the novel on Mickey’s screenplay, which I thought was very good – it’s a traditional 1950s western in the vein of a really top-notch Randolph Scott, Joel McCrae or Audie Murphy flick.

What separates “York” from other westerns is the Spillane-style toughness and the explicit violence. Wayne presumably did not produce the film because his company Batjac got in financial hot water due to the way-over-budget production of THE ALAMO. But it’s also possible the over-the-top violence, at times anticipating Sam Peckinpah, made it a problematic project. It’s somewhat sexually steamy for the 1950s, too.

Writing the novel was tricky. I am right now in the early days of writing a sequel, utilizing material from Mickey’s notes and various drafts of the “York” script, and I spend as much time on Google doing research – and utilizing two shelves of my office library cart with books on the Old West – as I do writing.

Just the same, nobody should expect the level of historical accuracy that I bring to the Nathan Heller (or other historical crime) novels of mine. While I try to drop in tidbits of authenticity, Mickey was clearly operating in a movie/TV world, specifically of the ‘50s. Think of the Warner Bros. westerns of that period, or movies by Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Budd Boetticher. That’s the world.

So I don’t know how western fans will react. And I’m not sure how Heller fans will, either. BLACK HATS showed me taking the Heller approach to Wyatt Earp, but the Spillane westerns I’m doing for Kensington (there will be at least three) are definitely exploring the myth. Exploring it violently, but exploring it.

Not many reviews yet, but two really nice ones popped up last week, including one by modern-day pulpster, Ron Fortier.

And here’s a good one, very smart I think, from the Kindle Taproom.

Speaking of Spillane, I was thrilled to get another Mike Hammer review from the UK’s great Mike Carlson. He really digs KILL ME, DARLING.

Another Hammer review popped up for a title released a few years back, THE BIG BANG.

And, finally, out of nowhere came this write-up about the DICK TRACY comic strip collection, DICK TRACY AND THE NIGHTMARE MACHINE.


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5 Responses to “The Legend of Caleb York”

  1. Sean Kelly says:

    I just e-mailed my “local” bookseller – Inkwood Books in Tampa – to order it. Since I am in Japan, I can’t just walk into the bookstore and pick it up off the shelf, but Inkwood gets the job done.

    Have any of your books been translated into Japanese? I am making the effort to find my favorite authors in the local lingo.

  2. Nathan Collins says:

    I actually have several of his books in Japanese. A good number of tie-ins (including CSI and Dark Angel) have been translated, but also some of the originals:

    Stolen Away (リンドバーグ・デッドライン)
    Angel in Black (黒衣のダリア)
    The Baby Blue Rip-Off (想い出は奪えない)
    The Titanic Murders (タイタニック号の殺人)
    The Hindenburg Murders (ヒンデルブルク号の殺人)

    His name is usually translated as マックス・アラン・コリンズ or マックス・A・コリンズ. It’s sometimes hard to find books in the bookstores because they sort by publisher, but I’ve had good luck in Book Offs, and you can buy many new or used on Amazon Japan:

  3. Sean Kelly says:

    Thanks for the tips. I was just in the bookstore yesterday looking, but no joy in the section I was perusing. I’ll keep looking. My Katakana reading is getting better so I can spot authors I like more.

    I did find Waterworld on the shelf of the English section of the Yokohama Library though.

  4. Tom Zappe/St. Louis says:

    Upon some reflection, I think you could have also hummed the theme from “Have Gun, Will Travel”.

  5. Max Allan Collins says:

    Mickey always claimed to have created HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL, or at least the basic idea, and had it lifted from him. He was, incidentally, great pals with one of that series’ writers…you may have heard of him: Gene Roddenberry.