Posts Tagged ‘Nate Heller’

Target Spillane

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The current issue of MYSTERY SCENE has a splashy Lawrence Block piece on Mickey Spillane. At the magazine’s editor’s request, I offered a few corrections to a reading list to accompany what I assumed would be a career overview of Mickey. Unfortunately it’s a patronizing, smugly casual dismissal of one fine writer’s work by another. This despite Block admitting he’s never much cared for (or read much of) Mickey’s work, ultimately dismissing it as unreadable “crap,” which makes me wonder why exactly a reading list was provided at all. There’s a particularly unfair discussion of Mickey’s famous line, “I’m a writer, not an author,” with Block pretending to be confused about what Mickey meant – that line (one of Mickey’s most frequently quoted) was almost always followed up by an explanation wherein Mickey cited the likes of one-book wonders like Margaret Mitchell or memoir-writing political figures like Churchill as “authors.” Writers, Mickey said, made a career of it. Block interprets the quote as meaning Mickey didn’t reach for the high literary standards of an “author” (Block might easily – and unfairly – be similarly dismissed due to his softcore porn roots and a career far more prolific than Spillane’s). He accepts the conventional wisdom that only the seven early novels are even worth mention, showing no signs he has read any of the later books (including THE TWISTED THING, which was actually the second Hammer novel written, though not published till 1966). He demeans Mickey’s selection as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America by giving his version of backroom discussions between two groups: one that thought Mickey was lousy and a disgrace to the genre, and another that thought Mickey was lousy but had been too commercially important to ignore (Block places himself in the latter camp). Members of both groups were anxious enough to pose for smiling photographs with celebrity Mickey at the Edgars banquet, like the one Block uses to illustrate his piece (though Mickey’s lovely wife Jane goes unidentified in the photo). Block closes out with a postscript saying that Mickey was “a nice guy,” sort of the “you don’t sweat much for a big old fat girl” moment.

I can’t imagine MYSTERY SCENE publishing a piece about any other major writer in the field that takes the approach of this one. “Agatha Christie wrote tripe, but she was a fun old gal at parties.” Who was it that said, “Pfui?”

Sixty-four years later, and the attacks on Mickey just never end, this one published in a magazine I admire and respect, from a writer I have long admired and respected. In the same issue, an article by Tom Nolan discusses current continuations of famous series characters, and my recent fairly high-profile Mike Hammer efforts are not mentioned though the Sam Spade book by Joe Gores (from several years back by a writer who has since passed away) is discussed alongside Jeff Deaver’s new 007 book. A mention in that piece – or perhaps a review of KISS HER GOODBYE, which has elsewhere received a lot of praise and attention – might have balanced things out a bit. Block mentions me at the top of his article, suggesting with false modesty that I would be more qualified to write the piece he’s about to undertake. Of course, I wasn’t asked by MYSTERY SCENE to write such a piece – Block was – and my role (minor) was merely to clairfy some publication data. Ironically, ads by publishers (and authors, including myself) involved in the current Spillane revival, are scattered throughout what is not my favorite issue of MYSTERY SCENE. (It should be noted that advertisers not having an impact on editorial content in a magazine is a positive, not a negative. An odd footnote is that Lawrence Block shares a publisher — Hard Case Crime — with Mickey and me.)

A much better new piece on Mickey – which also discusses the “I’m a writer, not an author” quote – can be found here.

I’m delighted to guide you to an excellent review of my son Nathan’s book SUMMER, FIREWORKS AND MY CORPSE from that very tough-minded critic, David Rachels. This is Nate’s translation for Viz of Otsuichi’s horror/noir tales.

And I’m also delighted to report that the long-postponed QUARRY’S EX got a very nice review from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY:

Set in 1980, Collins’s lean, sardonic 10th noir featuring the killer-for-hire who uses the pseudonym Quarry (after Quarry in the Middle) finds Quarry in Boot Hill, Nev., earning his keep in an unusual way. Drawing on his knowledge of the hit-man world derived from his years of working for a murder middleman known as the Broker, Quarry identifies intended targets of hits, then charges a hefty fee to eliminate the hired guns out to kill them. When he learns of a plot against B-movie director Arthur Stockwell, Quarry discovers that Stockwell’s wife is all too familiar–his ex-wife, Joni, whose betrayal led the Vietnam vet to use his murderous talents in civilian life. Leary of coincidence, Quarry works to understand how he can fulfill his professional obligation to Stockwell without Joni getting caught in the middle, even as he wonders whether she’s behind the contract. Collins amply leavens the violence with wit. (Sept.)

Quarry's Ex

Ron Fortier, a writer of comics and prose his own talented self, wrote a lovely review of the upcoming Nate Heller, BYE BYE, BABY. It’s always a thrill when a reader (and in this case a reviewer) really “gets it.” Ron, I’ve been saying that this is the first Heller in a decade, but it’s really only nine years.

An interview I gave a few years ago about ROAD TO PERDITION 2: ON THE ROAD has popped up. This probably is getting space because in addition to the upcoming RETURN TO PERDITION, new editions of ROAD TO PERDITION and RTP: ON THE ROAD will be published soon.

Sean Leary, a talented writer from the Quad Cities, has written a nice piece on the thriller collaborations by Matt Clemens and me, specifically NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU.

And this overview of upcoming Hard Case Crime publications goes out of its way to give my stuff plenty of space.

The KISS ME DEADLY Criterion DVD/Blu-ray reviews just keep a’comin’…with nice things about my new cut of MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE. Check this one out, and this one, too.

Finally, here’s a strong review of KISS HER GOODBYE at the always fascinating Noir Journal.

Oh, in case you haven’t seen the news elsewhere online, Matt and I did not win the Thriller award for Best Paperback (YOU CAN’T STOP ME), nor did I win for my Spillane short story (“A Long Time Dead”). But I was the only writer to lose twice!

M.A.C.

Galley Slave

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
Flying Blind

I am working on the galleys of the upcoming TRUE DETECTIVE reprint. I am never crazy about reading my old stuff, because I want to rewrite it. I am doing very, very minor tweaks and correcting historical mistakes. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to proofread all of the books myself because (at least as it’s now scheduled), all twelve Hellers are coming out in their new editions in August.

As I write this, it’s July 4th morning, with my son Nate (and girl Abby and dog Toaster) wrapping up a long-weekend visit, and tonight Crusin’ has an outdoor gig overlooking the Mississippi.

In the week or two after I wrap up a big project (like the recently completed JFK Heller, TARGET LANCER), I have smaller projects that I’ve been waiting to get to. One of those is a short story about Damon Runyon, “The Devil’s Face,” that Matt Clemens and I have collaborated on for a Bob Randisi anthology. We’re also doing a write-up on the Spenser TV series for an Otto Penzler project.

Next project – which I will begin very soon – is LADY GO, DIE! That’s the late ‘40s Mike Hammer novel – finishing Mickey’s second Hammer book!

A very nice and insightful review of THE LAST QUARRY popped up recently.

And the first review (although it’s more a plot summary) of THE CONSUMMATA has appeared.

The Criterion KISS ME DEADLY DVD/Blu-ray continues to get rave reviews, often with nice mentions of my documentary, MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE. There’s a fun one here.

And another here.

And the Mike Hammer novel series gets a write-up here.

Watch for news here soon of my San Diego Comic-on panels (Barb is making her first San Diego panel appearance!) and of our first west coast book tour in many years, which will happen in August. Details to follow.

M.A.C.

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.

Nate Heller Finished?!?!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Big news this week is that I have completed the new Heller, TARGET LANCER, dealing with the JFK assassination in an entirely new way. It was finished last week, and I spent the weekend tweaking it before shipping it this morning. The title refers to the code name the Secret Service gave JFK. There will undoubtedly be revisions and I am sending my research associate George Hagenauer a copy to check for Chicago inaccuracies. But I admit to feeling a huge weight is off my shoulders.

True Detective

Be sure to check out the Amazon listings of the Nathan Heller reprint series. All of them are going for around $10 on pre-order, including the new short story collection, CHICAGO LIGHTNING.

Our illo this week is the new cover for TRUE DETECTIVE, though I believe it may change somewhat. There are possible issues over the Frank Nitti image. But this will give you the idea of the design flavor. I’ve been working closely with AmazonEncore on developing this look – after my dissatisfaction with so many other covers of mine, cooperation/collaboration like this is a real treat.

Over at the Top Suspense blog, we are starting an ongoing conversation on the writing of crime fiction. I have a posting later this week, but check out the conversation from the very start here.

The KISS HER GOODBYE reviews keep coming, and here’s a fun one.

And Audiofile weighs in favorably on Stacy Keach’s wonderful reading of KISS HER GOODBYE.

At the Tor/Forge blog, they are bragging about that starred review BYE BYE, BABY got last week from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY. I was interviewed by PW a few weeks ago, but it hasn’t appeared yet.

The KISS ME DEADLY Blu-ray is getting rave reviews. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY gave it a B+, mentioning the special features as a major plus, and even listed it on their front-of-the-mag MUST LIST. On the web the reviews of this great release are everywhere, and here is a nice example, and another one.

KISS HER GOODBYE has made several of these “Page-Turner” lists, apparently for so-called beach books. Here’s one of them. The overwhelmingly favorable response to the new Mike Hammer novel has been colored by frequent apologies from reviewers, most hilariously represented by the A/V Club review. Nobody apologizes for liking James Bond or Batman or Tarzan, but Hammer still seems to be a guilty pleasure. I don’t really care, as long as I’m able to get these books out there. Many reviewers assume I’m working from plot notes at this point, no matter how many times I state that Mickey left behind substantial manuscripts on six Hammer novels (not to mention DEAD STREET and the forthcoming Morgan the Raider sequel, THE DELTA FACTOR). So far, I have been working from fragments around 100 pages long or more. Usually there are plot and character notes, but not always. CONSUMMATA was around 100 double-spaced pages, without plot and character notes, though I had THE DELTA FACTOR to guide me.

M.A.C.