Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Lightning’

Heller Gets Romantic

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Publisher’s Weekly – where a rave review of the upcoming BYE BYE, BABY appeared recently – has just further showcased the new Heller novel with an interview with me in the current issue. Nate Heller is the “Zelig” of mystery fiction, we’re told. For a while he was the Forrest Gump of mystery fiction, but now he’s Zelig again, it would seem. Either way’s cool with me.

Romantic Times – where “Barbara Allan” has frequently received wonderful reviews and where I have never been individually reviewed (before) – has offered a splendid BYE BYE, BABY review. Check this out:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Mystery, Historical

Sharp dialogue, perfect pacing, fascinating characters and the unraveling of a mystery that has always caught the public’s imagination makes for riveting fiction. This is a Hollywood novel that’s more interesting than the true story — if, in fact, it’s not what really happened anyway. Collins’ twist on this American mystery simply can’t be put down until the last page has been read.

In 1962, Marilyn Monroe is being harassed by everyone from her studio to the president and his brother, who want her to disappear almost as much as they want to bed her. Marilyn asks PI Nate Heller to tap her phone so she’ll have a record of the calls. Nate finds out she’s already being tapped — by the CIA, the FBI and the mafia. An icon whose connection to the White House makes her an object of interest for too many parties, Marilyn turns up dead not long after Nate plants the bug — by all accounts either a suicide or an accident. Nate’s not buying it and feels he owes it to her to find out what happened. (FORGE, Aug., 336 pp., $24.99)

Reviewed By: Pat Cooper

Canada’s National Post interviewed me for an article about continuing iconic characters, as I have with Mike Hammer and as Jeff Deaver is doing with James Bond. A nice little article worth checking out.

This article gives us the 13 most infamous Irish gangsters – and the first is Mickey Spillane…not Mike Hammer’s Mickey, but the real-life mob guy with whom our Mickey was frequently confused. Also include is John Looney, who likely would not have made this list without his latterdary ROAD TO PERDITION fame (which rates a mention).

The amazing Paul Bishop has been kind enough to talk up the forthcoming Heller collection, CHICAGO LIGHTNING, at his fun site, as well as the AmazonEncore reprints of the first twelve novels in the saga.

Out of the blue comes a nice little write-up on my years on the DICK TRACY strip. Two quibbles: Flattop is a ‘40s villain, not a ‘30s one; and frankly my years on the strip don’t have many naysayers that I ever heard about.

I was a little shocked, if pleasantly so, to discover this really smart and appreciative review of my 2001 security-cam feature, REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET. This is worth a look.

Somebody else out there in the cyberverse has noticed my DVD collection, SHADES OF NOIR – with an emphasis on the Quarrry short film, “A Matter of Principal.” The writer has no idea a novel and film were expanded from that, but it’s a nice write-up, anyway.

Successful novelist Jonathan Maberry has gathered Scribes nominees together for a joint interview, of which I am a part.

And at the Top Suspense blog, we’re still discussing techniques of suspense, with my contribution finally getting posted.

The rave reviews of the Criterion DVD/Blu-ray of KISS ME DEADLY (often with nice mention of my documentary, MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE, a special feature on the disc) keep rolling in.

This KISS ME DEADLY review has lots of information but opinions that seem questionable (though the guy likes my documentary, so he’s not all bad).

And here’s another KISS ME DEADLY review.

And another.

And another – one of the most interesting.

Finally, please check out Ed Gorman’s coverage at his blog of the passing of the great Marty Greenberg. My comments about him as an editor and man are included. If you have been a reader of mystery and/or science-fiction short stories in the past four decades or so, you have been touched by this wonderful man.

M.A.C.

Heller of a Week

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I’ve made passing references to the Nate Heller backlist coming back into print, but now it’s official. AmazonEncore has put out a press release on upcoming titles, and this paragraph should be of interest:

“Award-winning author Max Allan Collins’ Chicago Lightning: The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories, to be published by Thomas & Mercer on October 4, features Chicago PI Nathan Heller as the narrator of thirteen crime stories based on real cases from the 1930s and 1940s. Known for his graphic novel, Road to Perdition, the basis of the Academy Award-winning film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, Max Allan Collins is a recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America lifetime achievement award, the Eye, and is the writer and director of five feature films and two documentaries. Leading up to the publication of Chicago Lightning, AmazonEncore will re-release twelve other Nathan Heller books in August.”

Every one of the previous Heller novels (from TRUE DETECTIVE through CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL) will be reprinted in handsome, uniform trade paperback editions as well as e-books. CHICAGO LIGHTNING and the forthcoming TRIPLE PLAY are two new collections that take the place of (and expand upon) the previous Heller collections, DYING IN THE POSTWAR WORLD and KISSES OF DEATH. CHICAGO LIGHTNING is all the short stories thus far (including several never before collected) and TRIPLE PLAY will include the three Heller novellas-to-date (“Dying in the Postwar World,” “Kisses of Death,” and “Strike Zone”).

Obviously I am thrilled to have Heller climb back into print, timed to support and cross-promote the new Heller novels from Forge.

Speaking of which – and is very big news indeed – BYE BYE, BABY has received a starred PW review. Here it is:

“Set in 1962, Collins’s excellent 13th novel featuring Chicago PI Nate Heller (last seen in 2002’s Chicago Confidential) finds Heller–who’s investigated such high-profile crimes as the Lindbergh kidnapping and Huey Long’s assassination–looking into the death of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. The book’s first half covers the movie star’s last two months, as she tries to deal with attacks on many fronts–by the movie studio that fired her; by her abusive ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio; and by the Kennedys. By the time a drug overdose claims her, there’s no shortage of people who wanted her dead. Heller, Monroe’s sometime lover, who refuses to buy the official line that she committed suicide, steps on powerful toes with his usual tenacity and stubbornness to reach the truth. Collins convincingly portrays the real-life players in the drama, who include Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Sinatra. Readers with a taste for hard-boiled roman à clef will hope that more Heller is in the offing. (Aug.)”

Chicago Lightning

Mike Hammer remains very much in the public eye. An amusing review of KISS HER GOODBYE from AV Club is getting a lot of web distribution. Once again, the reviewer spends most of his time apologizing for liking the novel. But by the end he grudgingly, embarrassedly admits he did enjoy it (and bestows a B grade, not at all bad for the snarky AV Club). You may wish to read some of the comments, which are often hilarious in their idiocy (one guy doesn’t read my stuff because I look like a “nerd” in my author photos) and the knee-jerk political correctness rants that Spillane, even deceased, even in the 21st Century, can still inspire. Also, mention Spillane and “experts” will announce a predictable list of other hardboiled writers you should be reading instead.

This web review of KISS HER GOODBYE is fun and right on the money. Worth checking out.

So is this brief but lovely review of the audio, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER.

Here’s a nice review of the new Criterion Blu-ray of KISS ME DEADLY. I have an advance copy and it’s a lovely package, and the film looks great. So, I say unblushingly, does my new updated cut of the documentary, MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE, there as a bonus feature. I am grateful to Criterion for including it, because the sharp-looking booklet and some of the other features (notably the disappointing commentary) make the usual uniformed, sloppy, prejudiced comments about the original material. Constantly we’re told director Aldrich and screenwriter Bezzerides just “threw the novel away.” In fact, Bezzerides used Mickey’s basic plot, most of the characters (including their names), many memorable sequences (the opening of the film, for example, and the death of mobster Carl Evello) and even the fiery ending is a variation on Mickey’s. For Hollywood of the period, it’s quite faithful to its source, and evokes the surrealistic, fever-dream feel of early Hammer uncannily. Commentators continually talk about Hammer as if the books are predominantly about the P.I. taking on “Commies” (the only book of the first impactful six that does so is ONE LONELY NIGHT – a book in which SPOILER ALERT the bad guy turns out to be a thinly disguised Joe McCarthy). END SPOILER ALERT. Director Alex Cox has a piece where he’s enthusiastic about the film, but makes many dubious observations, including that Hammer is stupid in the novel and even more stupid in the film. At least Cox seems to have skimmed the book, which is more than most of the commentators have.

Finally, I recently did a little project with my frequent collaborator, actor Mike Cornelison (Pat Chambers on THE LITTLE DEATH and ENCORE FOR MURDER, and narrator of my Spillane documentary). It was a competition to write and produce a short play in just under a week. I hope to have a You Tube link to the production, called “Alley Cats,” soon.

In the meantime, here’s how we did:

The Judge’s Choice Award for night of competition, Friday, June 10, 2011.

This award signifies that the three-judge panel found “Alley Cats” the best theatrical presentation among the nine shows presented that night. That which most represented the spirit of the 711 competition, created the most engaging theatrical experience and adhered most closely to the rules of the game.

In addition, “Alley Cats” received the “Technical Excellence” award, which is voted by the technical staff of the 711 Project, and given to that production that shows the clearest vision, best use of lighting, sound and design and most concise and effective communication of their needs to the technical staff.

“Team Caligula,” which presented “Alley Cats,” is made up of Max Allan Collins (playwright), Michael Cornelison (director/actor), Nick Cornelison (producer/actor) and Jared Hammer (actor).

M.A.C.