Posts Tagged ‘Disaster Series’

Choice Reviews!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Quarry's Choice

QUARRY’S CHOICE comes out this week, and I’ve been a little worried because there hadn’t been a single advance review, despite Hard Case Crime sending out a bunch of ARC’s.

Just recently, though, two of my favorite writers – Ed Gorman and Bill Crider – have posted excellent reviews of the novel, one of which is getting some decent play at other blogs (more about that below). But QUARRY’S CHOICE could still use a boost, so if you’re a Quarry fan, and get and like the book, please consider posting an Amazon review.

Also, if you have a blog or some other place where you review books, contact me at and I’ll try to rustle up a review copy for you. (Please, no one tell Nero Wolfe I used “contact” as a verb.)

I thought THE WRONG QUARRY was about as good a Quarry as I could muster, but I have to admit CHOICE seems to me at least its equal. It’s set very early in Quarry’s career (still working as a hitman for the Broker), so if you haven’t read one, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Meanwhile, I have completed the new Heller – BETTER DEAD – and I feel like I fell out a high window, which is not coincidentally one of the crimes covered in the novel. This one is about the McCarthy era and Bettie Page is in it. Do you suppose Heller gets frisky with her? No, I better not spoil it for you….

When I say I’ve completed the book, I should say “completed,” because I will spend the next couple of days giving it a last read-through, looking for typos and tweaking things, hoping to God it all hangs together. I always feel that I’ve got a solid chapter written before going onto the next, but I also always fear that the pile of chapters will not assemble coherently into a book. This has never happened, but I live in terror of the time it does.

* * *

I’m going to discuss something at the risk of sounding like a total prick. For some, that will mean only the added adjective. But here goes….

I have helped a lot of writers in my time. I taught for twenty-some years at a summer writer’s conference, for example, out of which a good ten published writers emerged from my classes. Matthew Clemens was a student of mine there, and he turned out not half-bad. I also taught a summer program at the University of Iowa a couple of times. The great Hugh Holton was one of my students.

So I am not against helping writers. I probably won’t teach again, but I’ve put in my time, and have nothing to apologize about.

But I keep running into a kind of writer locally – I mean right here in Muscatine, Iowa – who imposes on me in a way that drives me crazy. Or at least, I feel imposed upon – I might be wrong (that’s where the total prick thing comes in). Here are a couple of examples.

On three different occasions in the last few months, the same man – friendly, nice – approached me at various functions…two parties, once a dance my band was playing at (during a break where I needed to catch my breath)…and pumped me hard for writing advice. Well, not writing advice so much as publishing advice. This ranged from where he should send his stuff to how to approach the people he would send it to, etc. I don’t know this man, particularly – he was a friendly acquaintance of my father’s. But he buttonholed me three times and pumped and pumped.

What I suppose makes me feel like this is an imposition is this: not once did he mention anything I’d written, not even saying he’d seen the film of ROAD TO PERDITION. He was not a fan. I sensed he’d either not read me or had and wasn’t impressed. What impressed him was that I was a professional who lived in his hometown who he could utilize.

Not long ago Barb and I went to a fall cook-out down the street. A woman from our neighborhood who I did not recognize came over to the picnic table where I was sitting and handed me a five-page essay she’d written. She was taking some kind of college class and wanted to know why she hadn’t received a better grade. At this social function, with people around me roasting and eating hot dogs and S’mores, I sat and for at least half an hour dealing with her, reading the paper, giving her a critique, showing her the good, the bad. Here’s the ugly: when I was done, she wanted to know if she could e-mail me her future papers for my critiques, apparently to have me check them before she handed them in. I said no, I just didn’t have time. She was offended.

This next example isn’t a writer. It’s a nice guy down the street who comes out and talks to me when Barb and I are out for a walk, and who at neighborhood parties gravitates to me for a talk. Generally I find him pleasant and smart. But he continually talks to me about mystery and suspense writers he’s reading, telling me his opinions, which is mostly how good they are – I know more about Lee Child than most people who have actually read him. He never mentions my work. Never indicates he’s ever read me. Finally I gave him a couple of books of mine. He’s never said a word about either (one was TRUE DETECTIVE).

This strikes me as peculiar. He obviously thinks because I’m a mystery writer that I would like to hear his opinions on the genre. But if he doesn’t read me, or have any interest in my work, why should he care what I think? And why should I listen?

The phenomenon seems to be strictly hometown – I can’t think of a parallel with (let’s call them) real readers who I encounter at a convention or at a bookstore (sometimes an event, sometimes just somebody who recognizes me and stops to say something nice about my work).

Do I have a right to tell somebody looking for free help that I’m at a social event and don’t care to talk shop? Or something? Should I ask my neighbor why he wants to talk to me about mysteries when he doesn’t read or like mine?

Just wondering.

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What a pleasure to read a great, insightful review from a writer you admire. Here are Ed Gorman and Bill Crider reviewing QUARRY’S CHOICE.

KING OF THE WEEDS has made another ten best list!

Check out this lovely review of BYE BYE, BABY.

Here’s a very solid New York Times article on movie and TV tie-ins, in which I am quoted.

Here’s a great look at the Disaster series.

I have written an introduction for a collection of pre-Disney ZORRO comic books for Hermes Press. It’s a lovely book and the stories are great fun. This reviewer isn’t much impressed, but it’s still worth checking his review out.

And finally here’s a very nice write-up about my work in general and Nate Heller in particular.

M.A.C.

March Kindle Sale: THE LUSITANIA MURDERS for $2.99!

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The Lusitania Murders on Amazon

For the month of March, Amazon is featuring The Lusitania Murders for $2.99 on the Kindle storefront. Lusitania was nominated for the 2003 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel, and Publishers Weekly wrote of the novel: “[Collins] ably weaves a well-paced, closed-environment mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie.” Here’s the scoop:

The Lusitania’s final voyage is a newsman’s dream. First come the torpedo warnings. Then come the murders…

Journalist and mystery writer Willard Huntington Wright boards the Lusitania in pursuit of a hot story. Under the guise of conducting interviews with prominent passengers, his real assignment is to investigate rumors that the luxury liner is carrying illicit cargo for the British war effort against Germany.

But Wright, traveling under the pseudonym S.S. Van Dine, isn’t the only passenger with an ulterior motive. Hours after the ship receives torpedo threats, three German stowaways are found murdered. And Wright suspects the deaths are part of a larger conspiracy. Comparing clues and matching wits with Detective Philomina Vance, the pair must solve the murders before the killer can sabotage the entire ship. Recreating the days up to the ship’s fatal encounter with a German U-boat, The Lusitania Murders is historical fiction at its entertaining best.

If you haven’t read any of the Disaster series, this is a great place to start. The Disaster books are a series in theme rather than continuity, and each book stands alone. For more information on the series, I recommend this December Kindle Post interview: Max Allan Collins on The Disaster Series.

Don’t forget that Lusitania and the rest of the Disaster novels are also available in handsome physical editions at all major online retailers as well as your local bookseller through indiebound.org.

The Lusitania Murders on Amazon

A Tale of Two Christmas Eves

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Here’s a piece about my two most memorable Christmases that I wrote recently for Bookreporter. Happy holidays, everyone, and thank you for your interest and support in 2012.

My ambition, from junior high school onward, was to be a mystery writer, specifically to write and publish the kind of hardboiled fiction people are calling “noir” these days.

I had written four novels in high school and a number of short stories, spending my summers creating the manuscripts that I would send out during the school year. I had any number of encouraging responses, but no sales.

At the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, I was blessed to have Richard Yates — the great mainstream author of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD — as my mentor. He helped me shape my pulp fiction into something that strove to be something more, even if it didn’t always. He got me an appropriate agent in New York, a crusty ex-paperback editor named Knox Burger, who said of my Raymond Chandler/Mickey Spillane-inspired work, “I’m afraid young Mr. Collins has learned to be a blacksmith in an automotive age.” Yates had told Burger that he thought I was another Dashiell Hammett. Burger said, “No — W.R. Burnett maybe.”

The story continues over at Bookreporter.com.

And here are pics from my appearance at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park, Illiniois, doing a Q and A at the Midwest MWA Christmas party on Dec. 16.

Before I sign off, here are a few links you might like to check out.

Here’s an interview I did about the Disaster series, in support of the current reprint program from Thomas & Mercer.

This is a well-done “get to know” me and my work from the fun site Mystery People.

The private eye-centric blog Sons of Spade has a nice TARGET LANCER review.

And here’s a very much appreciated positive review (and more) from the great Bill Crider about the forthcoming (February) SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

M.A.C.

Collect ‘Em All, Kids!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Last week, Amazon offered for sale the new Thomas & Mercer trade paperbacks (and corresponding e-books) of fourteen of my novels, including two by Barb and myself appearing for the first time under our “Barbara Allan” byline (REGENERATION, BOMBSHELL).

These are outstanding packages, with outstanding covers, really just beautiful. I’m thrilled that these novels – all out of print, some out of print for years – are available again. It’s any author’s dream to have his or her work perpetually available, and one positive aspect of the changing world of publishing is that that dream has come true for many writers, myself included.

The five Mallory novels and the six “disaster” mysteries make up the bulk of the list, with the Barbara Allan titles and the standalone eco-thriller MIDNIGHT HAUL rounding it out. Virtually everything of mine is in print now – Perfect Crime has the Nolan and Quarry series, and Speaking Volumes has Eliot Ness.

The new Thomas & Mercer titles are priced very reasonably, and look for great promo deals from Amazon after the first of the year. I have done interviews on both Mallory and the disaster books, and Barb and I did a “Barbara Allan” interview, and I’ll let you know when and where those are going to show up. [Note from Nate: Click each cover for links to purchase Kindle, trade paperback, and audiobook editions at Amazon, major booksellers, as well as local independent booksellers via Indiebound]

Barb and I appeared at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, Illinois, on Sunday. This was a great event – lots of fans, plus we were generously made a part of the Midwest chapter of the Mystery Writers of America’s Christmas party. In fact, my Q and A was the entertainment. It was a treat seeing so many wonderful writers, particularly my friends Bob Goldsborough and Raymond Benson, who are with me in the very small club of writers being chosen to continue great series (Nero Wolfe, James Bond and Mike Hammer respectively). Centuries & Sleuths, with its history and mystery theme, is one cool bookstore. The book tour has one last stop, in nearby Davenport’s BAM! on Dec. 22.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, be prepared for books, comic books, video games, rap music, movies, and other popular culture to be served up as a safe, convenient scapegoat. This is a very old, sour tune that our society just can’t get enough of – just like it can’t get enough of violent entertainment. Personally, I would like to see the assault rifle ban reinstated, and a campaign of education to advise people of the risks taken by owning a hand gun in a home where mentally disturbed and/or depressed people live. If you have a troubled loner son, maybe taking him to the shooting range to “learn responsibility” isn’t such a great idea.

The second of three installments of Dan Luft’s in-depth look at the Nolan series has just appeared. Smart stuff.

Take a look at this incredible TARGET LANCER review.

And speaking of censoring pop culture, here’s another nice advance review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

M.A.C.