Posts Tagged ‘Scratch Fever’

One More Time for Nolan?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Apparently I told an interviewer a while back – a few years ago least – that the Nolan series was complete. That I had no interest in writing another, and wouldn’t under any circumstances write a new Nolan novel.

So, of course, I am preparing to write one. I’ll be spending December and January on Skim Deep, the cover for which (by the wonderful Mark Eastbrook, my personal choice among a bunch of wonderful artists provided as possibilities by editor Charles Ardai) appears with this update.

For those of you who came in late, Nolan was the hero (anti-hero?) of my first published novel, Bait Money, written around 1969 and published in December 1972. Nolan (no first name) is professional thief, who – approaching the ripe old age of fifty – wants to pull one last big job and retire. I teamed him with a young would-be cartoonist, Jon (no last name), whose first heist this would be.

Nolan was (and is) an homage (French for “rip-off”) to Richard Stark’s Parker. For a long time, Nolan died at the end of Bait Money, and until an editor returned the manuscript with coffee spilled on it, I had ignored my then agent Knox Burger’s request to un-kill Nolan, which he thought would help the book sell. I did, and it did.

When the publisher (Curtis Books) asked for more, I suddenly had a series. I asked Don Westlake (who of course was Richard Stark) if it was all right with him for me to do a series so blatantly imitative of his own. Don, who’d been mentoring me by mail, was nice enough to say that Nolan with the addition of the surrogate son, Jon, was different enough from Parker for me to proceed with his blessing.

So Blood Money followed, and later came Fly Paper, Hush Money, Hard Cash and Scratch Fever, and finally in the mid-‘80s, Spree. The publishing history is torturous and I won’t go into here, though I’ve discussed it elsewhere in detail.

There’s also a prequel of sorts called Mourn the Living, which was the first Nolan, unsold and tucked away by me till fanzine editor Wayne Dundee heard about it and requested that I allow him to serialize it. Which I did, and it was eventually published a couple of places.

When, a decade and a half ago or so, Charles Ardai was putting Hard Case Crime together, he was nice enough to want to reprint my novel Blood Money, which for inexplicable reasons was and is a favorite of his. I said yes on the condition that he combine it with Bait Money, to make its sequel Blood Money more coherent, into a single volume. He did this. Hard Case Crime is noted for its terrific retro covers, but the Nolan duo – now titled Two for the Money – was possibly the weakest Hard Case Crime cover ever…the only time dark, mustache Nolan was depicted as looking like blond Nick Nolte.

When Charles came around wanting another M.A.C. reprint, I offered to do a new book – The Last Quarry – instead, for the same reprint money, as long as I could get a Robert McGinnis cover. Also, I wanted a chance to finish that cult-ish series once and for all. While I got my McGinnis cover, the rest of the plan didn’t exactly work out that way, and now – with a bunch of new Quarry novels, a Ms. Tree prose novel, several Spillane projects and a couple of graphic novels under our collective belt – Charles has twisted my arm into doing another Nolan.

Part of what made that attractive to me was Charles bringing all of the Nolan novels back out, in the two-per-book format, so that – like the Quarry novels – the entire canon is under one imprint. Better still, we have new covers…including Two for the Money.

Double Down will include Fly Paper and Hush Money. Tough Tender will include Hard Cash and Scratch Fever (these appeared under that join title before but not at HCC). And Mad Money will have Spree and, as a sort of bonus, Mourn the Living.

What will Skim Deep be about? I haven’t plotted it yet, but the premise has to do with a Vegas honeymoon, casino skimming, and a Comfort or two. If you’ve read the Nolan novels, you understand that last bit.

As with the Quarry novels, I will be doing this one in period – probably within a year of the action in Spree.

Am I looking forward to it? Sort of. I have this nagging feeling that by writing another Nolan, at this age, after all this time, I could be bookending my career. So my ambition is not to fucking die immediately after finishing it (or during it, for that matter). I have other contracts to fill, and miles to go before I sleep.

But it sure is fun to see these new HCC covers. The Van Cleef resemblance (which was part of the Pinnacle covers, to a degree, and very much an element of the Perfect Crime reprints) is mentioned prominently in the novels. I met him once, interviewed him, and he treated me with amusement and at one point got briefly irritated with me. It was unsettling but memorable, being Jon to his Nolan. No guns were involved.

* * *

Here’s a nice essay by my frequent collaborator, Matthew Clemens, on what he learned about suspense writing from the film Jaws.

The First Comics News blog has Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother on its Christmas gift list.

And here Ms. Tree is on another holiday gift guide, from Previews no less.

M.A.C.

New Edition Nolan Trade Paperbacks 20% Off

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

To celebrate the new editions of heist artist Nolan’s adventures, Perfect Crime Books is offering a 20% discount through the end of May when ordering straight from the printer’s secure store at createspace.com. Each book comes with a new introduction from Max (aside from Mourn the Living, which includes the intro from the Five Star Press run). For me, shipping on one book came out to be around $3.50, and was only a couple dollars more for an order of all six, so the deal is better the more you buy.

Click on the covers below and enter the following code at checkout:

LX2E2WBF

For the maxallancollins.com book pages:
Fly Paper | Hush Money | Hard Cash | Scratch Fever | Spree | Mourn the Living

Star Trek and Conventional Wisdom

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I am immersed in the writing of KISS HER GOODBYE, just completely absorbed by Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane and their world.

Nice things keep appearing on the net about my work. For example…

My pal Ed Gorman was kind enough to write about the Nolan novel, SCRATCH FEVER, as one of the weekly “Forgotten Books” at Patti Abbott’s website, but also on Ed’s own blog, with some interesting comments only seen there. Easiest way to read SCRATCH FEVER is to track down the omnibus paperback, TOUGH TENDER, which has it and HARD CASH combined.

ROAD TO PERDITION is number one on another list of comic book-derived movies, specifically ones that some people apparently don’t know came from comics.

Barb and I are working our way through the third season of STAR TREK on blu-ray. All day I work on Mike Hammer, and all evening I watch STAR TREK (and in the company of a beautiful blonde). Life is good. But I am reminded by how much I truly, deeply despise conventional wisdom and regurgitated opinions.

I’ve revealed here previously that I am a first-generation Trekkie (not Trekker — Trekkie was the term Gene Roddenberry preferred). Here’s proof: Barb and I went to see William Shatner in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH at the Pheasant Run theater outside Chicago; and attended a George McGovern rally in DeKalb, Illinois, because Nimoy was hosting. Satisfied?

Anyway, Barb and I have watched the second season and third on blu-ray essentially back to back, and the first season not so long ago. Conventional wisdom says the first season is great, the second season very, very good, and the third season an embarrassment. The truth is STAR TREK in all three seasons has embarrassing episodes. And every season has a bunch of solid, meat-and-potatoes episodes. And a handful of excellent ones. If I had to nominate a weak season, it might be the second one, with its many, many earth culture planets (the Roman planet, the gangster planet, the Nazi planet, OMEGA GLORY with its tattered and very unlikely American flag, etc.). But the second season also owns AMOK TIME, one of the very best episodes.

Is There In Truth No BeautyThe third season admittedly has the two worst stinkers in the entire STAR TREK line-up – LET THIS BE OUR LAST BATTLEFIELD, the dismal racial parable (the one where Frank Gorshin does the Riddler as half black and half white, chasing around the Enterprise his fellow scenery chewer Lou Antonio who is half white and half black) and the truly abysmal WAY TO EDEN, the hippies in outer space episode, which manages to waste Charles Napier. But the third season has also the surrealistic gem SPECTRE OF THE GUN (one of the first negative views of Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral – and with DeForest Kelley, who was in the Burt Lancaster/Kirk Douglas film version, as one of the Earps!), and possibly the three best STAR TREK episodes of all, THE EMPATH, IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY and ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. Some of the best STAR TREK episodes feature music by George Duning, sometimes re-frying his BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE score.

Without breaking it down, I would say (looking at the entire run of the show), there are probably about eight great STAR TREK episodes, and probably about half a dozen really, really lousy ones. The rest are solid entertainment, if of varying degrees.

I have always felt the success of the show had more than anything to do with the combination of Roddenberry’s concept and an exceptionally well-assembled cast. Say what you will about Shatner, he provides a dashing, charismatic hero (and you have to go to the lousy episodes, where he is really working hard, to find him truly hammy), and Nimoy’s Spock remains one of the great series TV characterizations, endlessly fascinating (I said I was a Trekkie), while DeForest Kelley provides compassionate glue, a friend and irritant to the other two leads, as need be. The rest of the cast is excellent, too, with its interracial components. In the third season, my old friend Walter Koenig in particular shines as Chekov, whose character is poorly defined by the writers but is beautifully portrayed and pulled together by the actor.

Live long, prosper, and quit listening to conventional wisdom.

M.A.C.