Posts Tagged ‘The Second Gunman’

Nate Heller Will Return

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

I’m pleased to report that Forge has exercised its option for me to write two more Nathan Heller novels. I have asked for fifteen months for each book, which means the one-a-year schedule the JFK trilogy established won’t be met this time. Lots of research for me (and George Hagenauer) to do.

The first book, currently titled RED SCARE (although I’m also considering BETTER DEAD – any thoughts?) will deal with the McCarthy era. Regular followers of the series will note that we have moved backward for this one, to the early 1950s. Right now the book rather ambitiously deals with the Rosenbergs, Dashiell Hammett, McCarthy, and CIA LSD murder. I hope to cover all of this, but discussions with George (and research) may convince me to tighten the scope.

The second book is also ambitious in scope – dealing with both Robert Kennedy’s assassination and a lengthy flashback finally exploring Heller’s role on the Rackets Committee as an undercover operative infiltrating Jimmy Hoffa’s organization. Right now I’m calling this THE SECOND GUNMAN, but I’m not married to that title.

Both of these novels deal with material I always knew I wanted to explore with but skipped over because, in order to get Heller back with a publisher, I felt the Kennedy trilogy was the more commercial bet. Part of my strategy was to get JFK done, because that was always the end game for the series. We haven’t set the world on fire with the JFK novels, at least not so far, but we’ve done well enough for me to get offered another two books.

Of course, I am now not sure that JFK is the chronological end of the saga. I am considering MLK and Watergate. But that’s another contract.

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A couple of movie and TV notes.

Freaks and Geeks

Barb and I recently re-watched FREAKS & GEEKS, which is among the greatest TV shows of all time. This is where Seth Rogen, Jason Seigel and James Franco began (and arguably so did Judd Apatow, but the cast includes so many other great people. The regular cast (my favorite is Martin Starr, who went on to co-star in the also wonderful PARTY DOWN) is supported by all sorts of stars to be – Shia LeBeouf (a little kid here), Lizzy Caplan (also with PARTY DOWN in her future), Rashida Jones (THE OFFICE, PARKS & RECREATION). It’s merely the best show ever done about high school (set in the ‘80s but timeless). Tom Wilson (Biff in BACK TO THE FUTURE!) is a semi-regular, and so are Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu of MST3K. MST3K veteran and CINEMATIC TITANIC cast member J. Elvis Weinstein is a writer/producer on the show. 18 classic episodes.

The one-season follow-up, UNDECLARED, about first-year college students, is a worthy add-on, with Rogen back and really developing as both writer and actor, and lots of FREAKS & GEEKS actors returning as semi-regulars or guest stars. Judd Apatow is the creator, while FREAKS & GEEKS creator Paul Feig directs an episode.

On the film front, Barb and I took in the wonderful I-MAX 3-D version of THE WIZARD OF OZ (this may not be in theaters now – I think it was a one-week limited engagement) and a screening of VERTIGO at the same multi-plex. As Terry Beatty has pointed out, the 3-D restored OZ is oddly more intimate than before. VERTIGO remains my favorite film and an incredibly layered piece of work – the only private eye story that really rivals THE MALTESE FALCON for first position in the genre. James Stewart, in a career littered with great performances and classic films, delivers his finest performance.

Of new movies, we caught DeNiro in Luc Besson’s underrated black comedy, THE FAMILY. Barb and I were very surprised by how much we liked that one. Dark and funny and with a (warped) good heart.

There are several much-hyped movies, some well-reviewed, that I can’t make myself see. RUSH is a subject I don’t care about, and director Ron Howard is notorious for his movies going on too long. DON JON – really? The story of a New Jersey lummox who gives up porn for Scarlett Johansson? How’s that for a conflict….

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Booklist gave us a very good review on WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER. Don’t know how to link this, so here it is:

Jordan Rivera has spent the last 10 years at Cleveland’s St. Dymphna’s psychiatric clinic, refusing to speak after her family was murdered in an attack she managed to survive. But when she sees a news report on a similar killing, she’s convinced her attacker is still targeting families. Resolved to avenge her family’s deaths, Jordan starts talking, and soon she’s released and making connections in a victims’ support group. As the group shares stories, they find that they are all sole survivors of unsolved attacks on their families, and they feed their hunger to fight back by reinvestigating their cases as serial killings. They find unexpected assistance from Mark Pryor, Jordan’s high-school crush, now a police detective working Jordan’s case off the books. But that may not protect them from their quarry, who’s been waiting for Jordan to abandon the clinic’s protective walls. Collins, known for his outstanding Nathan Heller historical series, courts contemporary thriller fans with the victims-turned-hunters premise and riveting amateur investigation. Some suspension of disbelief is necessary, but the ride offers sure thrills, and the company is great.

Here’s a Spinetingler review of COMPLEX 90:

Reviewed by Theodore FeitThis novel is based on an original manuscript written by Mickey Spillane, one of two entrusted “for safekeeping” to Mr. Collins shortly before his death. It was originally scheduled for publication in the 1960’s, but never appeared. It is now made possible through Collins’ collaborative effort.Complex 90 is set during the Cold War, pitting one-man army Mike Hammer against the entire might of the USSR. It begins when he takes on a job as a bodyguard to protect a U.S. Senator during a party in his home. A gunman invades the home, shoots and kills another security person, a friend named Marley, and a bullet hits Mike in the thigh. Mike replaces Marley as the Senator’s bodyguard on a trip to Moscow on a fact-finding tour. There Mike is arrested and taken to a prison, from which he escapes, killing 45 Russians, and, after two months, crossing into Turkey, where he gets on a plane to return to the U.S. Russia demands extradition, and Mike thumbs his nose. (All of this action transpires very early in the book.)

Will it be a major international incident, or will Mike overpower both the American and Soviet governments? Of course, the gore and sex which play a prominent part in the novel are trademarks of Spillane, purely Mike Hammer at his wise-cracking best. It’s hard to tell where Spillane leaves off and Collins picks up.


Finally, here’s a wonderful review of TRUE CRIME. Never too late!