Posts Tagged ‘True Crime’

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.

Recommended.

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

M.A.C.

Quarry Pilot Casting News

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The producers of the HBO/Cinemax pilot QUARRY have added two more cast members to an already impressive roster:

Nikki Amuka-Bird of the top-notch British series LUTHER and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose many credits include the wonderful SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.

I got a fun e-mail from reader Lee Grant relating to the QUARRY pilot, and I’d like to share it with you:

My introduction to your work came back in the 1980s with The Baby Blue Rip Off and Kill Your Darlings. I graduated to the Nathan Heller novels and rediscovered comics again with Ms. Tree. The Nate Heller and disaster novels remain my favorites, though your treatment of Mike Hammer is right up there with the Mick. Now, if you could only do some Travis McGee or Nero Wolfe novels that would be the icing on the cake. Anyway, my wife and I are at home in Bartlett, TN last night when we receive a call from a woman who is doing advance location work for a movie to be set in an old house in Mississippi. She is interested in using my wife’s old family farm house in it – one that looks like it may have been used by Machine Gun Kelly (BTW) who did spend some time in this area. I don’t think much of the conversation other than it is interesting. I ask what the film is and my wife, Jayme, says the advance scout didn’t remember the title but that it was a mystery. So, Jayme goes to visit the scout today at the house in Independence, Mississppi and when she comes out she literally stuns me saying it is for a film based on a mystery by Max Allan Collins. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She tells me, “Yeah, it is about some hit man. I think his name is Quarry.” As my teenage daughter would say, “OMG.” I don’t say that myself, I would be more like Nate Heller, but I try to avoid that can of language in emails. The sad news is that the farm house, though no one has lived in it for 25 years, may be too nice to use according to the scout. So it probably won’t be in the film, but to think that it was considered for a Max Allan Collins’ film made my day. Anyway, good luck with the film. If you ever visit the set and need someone to show you some undiscovered BBQ places, or need a driver to Graceland, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to act as a guide. It would be my way of saying thank you for all of the hours of great reading you’ve given me these past 30+ years.

Any other readers out there who have a close encounter of the QUARRY kind are urged to let me know.

A few comments on recent movies and TV, just briefly….

MAN OF STEEL is well-cast, with both Superman (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) quite wonderful; like Glenn Ford in the first Christopher Reeve SUPERMAN, Kevin Costner gives the Smallville sections a nice homespun weight. But the last act is borderline dreadful, with oh-so-serious co-writer Christopher Nolan meeting up with the excesses of director Zack Snyder in a perfect storm of missteps – i.e., relentlessly idiotic and uninteresting TRANSFORMERS-style destruction of downtown Metropolis, topped off by Superman actually taking a life. And some of the screenwriting is truly abysmal – the movie opens with a lengthy, detailed study of Krypton’s final days, somewhat ponderous but not bad. Then when Russell Crowe as Marlon Brando, I mean Jo-El (Superman’s father), shows up as a ghost or something, he spends five minutes telling Kal-El (Superman) what happened in the first half hour of the movie! Wow. Exposition at its most clumsy, and pointless.

THIS IS THE END, on the other hand, is a truly great comedy, with star/writer Seth Rogen assembling James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and many other comic stars of his generation to play themselves in an Apocalyptic horror flick that is largely about these talents pimping themselves out. One of the best movies of the summer, maybe the year.

Barb and I binged on two American remakes/revamps of great foreign TV mini-series – HOUSE OF CARDS with Kevin Spacey standing in for the late Ian Richardson in an excellent U.S. take on the acid British political dark comedy. Not quite as good as the original, which is one of the greatest of all UK television mini-series, but damn good in its own right. Think of it as a very dark take on THE WEST WING.

THE KILLING begins as a faithful remake of the excellent Danish series of the same name (well, the UK name, anyway – the Danish name is Forbrydelsen, “The Crime”), but expands upon it and goes its own way, and ultimately rivals and perhaps exceeds the original. The show got a bad rap and rep because it didn’t solve the central murder by the end of the first season (it never pretended it was going to), but viewing the two seasons binge-style is a hypnotic, rewarding experience. And it’s back for a third season and a new central crime. Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman are the very strong leads, two damaged detectives who combine to make an unlikely and even reluctant team.

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A very nice review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT in the Cedar Rapids Gazette has been picked up around the Net.

Here’s a review of TWO FOR THE MONEY, the Hard Case crime collection of the first two NOLAN novels, BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY.

Here’s a little preview of THE WRONG QUARRY with a nice uncluttered look at the cover art.

Finally, take a look at this terrific review of TRUE CRIME. I’m so pleased Heller is getting a whole new round of readers thanks to the Amazon reprints.

M.A.C.

Nero Nom For Antiques Disposal—Satisfactory

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barb and I (and for that matter our son Nate) are huge Nero Wolfe fans. Our preferred mode of enjoyment is the fine series of audio books read by Michael Pritchard, which Barb and I have listened to perhaps five times. I am also a fan of Bob Goldsborough’s continuation of Rex Stout’s great series – he was a role model for me in my work on Mickey’s unfinished novels.

So it was with particular pleasure and even a little pride that Barb and I learned that we’d been nominated for the Wolfe Pack’s prestigious Nero Award. This award is, rivaled only by the Edgar, the remaining award in mystery fiction that I still dream of winning – in part because it’s physically cool, being a bust of Wolfe himself. Read about it at the Rap Sheet, where you can see who the other three nominees are (like I’m going to tell you!).

The other big news this week is that top-flight actor Stellan Skadrsgard (THOR, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), has been cast as the Broker in the Cinemax QUARRY pilot. This will be a recurring role, if the pilot goes to series, at least for the first season (regular readers of the Quarry books know why the Broker will not likely be around for the long haul…).

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I have learned that reviews of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER cannot go up on Amazon until after the book has been published. So those of you got review copies from me will have to wait until then, although you can post at Goodreads any time and the also on blogs of your own. When the book comes out in September, I will remind you to post those reviews.

By the way – and this was mentioned in a comment response here, but many of you may not have seen it – I am close to signing with Hard Case Crime to do another Quarry novel, which I would write later this year. The title will probably be QUARRY’S CHOICE. It will not be a “list” novel, but will return to the period where Quarry works for the Broker. (THE WRONG QUARRY will be out in January, and I immodestly suggest it’s among the strongest in the series.)

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Favorable reviews of COMPLEX 90 continue to roll in, but I really get a kick out of it when a young woman like the reviewer at Nerds in Babeland connects with Mike Hammer and his world, particularly a smart one who recognizes how strong Velda and the other female characters are.

A very well-conducted interview, part of the COMPLEX 90 blog tour, is here, at Celebrity Cafe.

And here’s another one, nicely handled by the interviewer, at blogcritics.

David Williams continues to review Heller novels in succinct, smart fashion, as in this look at BYE BYE, BABY.

And Just a Guy That Likes to Read liked reading TRUE CRIME very much, as his review indicates.

An annotated reprinting of my BATMAN comic strip story (illoed by the great Marshall Rogers) is here. I’ve posted this before, but this is a revised, expanded version.

And here’s a fun look at the “Barbara Allan” Marilyn Monroe thriller, BOMBSHELL, a book that really got lost between the cracks until Thomas & Mercer gave it a new lease on life.

M.A.C.

True Crime for Kindle $1.99 Today Only

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

All day today (Saturday, September 1st), TRUE CRIME is on sale for $1.99 on the Amazon Kindle store. The second novel in the Nate Heller series (currently rated at 4.5 out of 5 stars) finds the detective facing Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson, and perhaps the biggest and most dangerous question in his life: Who was the man shot down in the alley next to the Biograph Theater, the man the FBI had confidently identified as John Dillinger?

Don’t miss out on the novel the New York Times said has “enough twists, gritty period color and sheer violent momentum to keep crime buffs eagerly turning the pages,” and the Detroit Free Press called “a true gem.” And if that’s not convincing, how about praise from one Mickey Spillane: “Terrific!”

http://amzn.to/PJO4Ks