The greatest unsolved mystery of the twentieth century -- the disappearance of Amelia Earhart -- has finally been solved. But the answers don't lie in recently unclassified top-secret government documents or as the result of far-flung expeditions to the islands of the Pacific. Instead, the long-sought solution can be found in Flying Blind (Dutton, $24.95) by award-winning mystery writer Max Allan Collins.

Collins has been widely acclaimed as the "master of true-crime fiction," intensively researching famous unsolved mysteries as if he were mounting the definitive non-fiction book on the subject, and then instead writing a classic Raymond Chandler-style detective story. While the early Heller novels focused on such vintage mobsters as Al Capone and Frank Nitti, and outlaws like John Dillinger and "Baby Face" Nelson, the recent Collins historicals have found the author and his detective moving into such mainstream subjects as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the assassination of Huey Long.

Flying Blind finds Collins' detective Nate Heller -- in March 1935 -- providing security for famed pilot, Amelia Earhart, promoting her new line of designer clothes at Marshall Field's. In an action-filled, decades-spanning tale, the detective's love affair with the aviatrix takes Heller from Chicago to Saipan in search of the missing Earhart. And if anyone could find Amelia Earhart, it's Heller and Collins.

As in previous Heller novels, Collins has developed a credible theory for "whatever happened to" history's most famous missing pilot that despite its fictional presentation will no doubt be taken seriously by scholars. (The Heller novels have been regularly showing up in the bibliographies of nonfiction books, a rare distinction for fictional works.)

"Many of the books about Amelia view her through rose-colored glasses," Collins said, "and there is plenty to admire about this singular woman. But I've attempted to depict a flesh-and-blood human being, with flaws as well as attributes, and I think Amelia comes alive in Flying Blind in a way she does not in any previous work."

With the exception of Heller's presence, Collins sticks to the facts of the true cases, digging out information that "fell through the cracks of history."

This approach has won Collins both acclaim and awards --the Heller books have received an unprecedented eight nominations for the "Shamus" award presented by the Private Eye Writers of America, winning twice (True Detective, 1983, and Stolen Away, 1991); Sue Grafton is the only other mystery writer ever to win the "Shamus" for Best Novel twice.

In tandem with the hardcover release of Flying Blind, the previous Heller novel will make its paperback debut -- Damned in Paradise, which received glowing notices, including a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and a four-star review in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Collins is no stranger to crime or detectives. For fifteen years (ending in 1993), the author wrote the syndicated comic-strip adventures of DICK TRACY, and has scripted both the BATMAN comic book and newspaper strip. His DC comics feature MS. TREE (co-created with artist Terry Beatty in 1981) is regarded as the first of the modern wave of female private detectives. He recently collaborated with bestselling mystery novelist Mickey Spillane on MIKE DANGER, a science-fiction detective comic book, and his current epic graphic novel, Road to Perdition, has been called a comic-book masterpiece.

The versatile writer -- hailed as "the Renaissance Man of mystery fiction" -- is also active in moviemaking. His screenplay "The Expert" appeared on HBO as a World Premiere in April 1995, and "Mommy" -- a suspense film Collins wrote, directed and executive-produced -- made its network debut on Lifetime last year. He has filmed a sequel, "Mommy's Day," now in release from V.C.I. Home Video, and is shooting a documentary on his friend and literary role model, Mickey Spillane.

Collins is also one of the leading authors of movie tie-in novels. His In the Line of Fire, Maverick, Waterworld and Air Force One were international bestsellers. Currently on the stands is the author's latest movie novel, Saving Private Ryan (Signet, $5.99), starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Collins lives in Iowa with his wife, acclaimed short-story writer Barbara Collins, and their fifteen year-old son Nathan, who has collaborated with his father on a story for a Random House "great writers and their kids" anthology.

The author will be on tour in the midwest and on the west coast during the month of August, appearing at bookstores to meet readers and sign copies of Flying Blind.

Further information/author interviews: M.A.C. Productions, L.C. 3O1 Fairview Avenue Muscatine IA 52761. Phone: 319-263-4473 Fax: 319-263-6366 E-mail:

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