Monday, July 25, 2011

Bye Bye, Baby -- Max Allan Collins

I don't know how much input Max Allan Collins has on his covers, but Nate Heller's sure looking a lot like Mickey Spillane here, I think. Which of course has nothing to do with the book itself. Just something I thought I'd throw in as a bonus. You can't get this kind of stuff just anywhere, you know.

Since the start of his career, Nate Heller's been involved in more cases from history than anybody else I can think of. This time it's the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe that gets his attention, and not just because she was his close personal friend if you know what I mean and I think you do. Heller knows that the picture of Marilyn in her last days that's being presented to the public is far from the truth, and he knows a lot of other secrets, too.

The two things I like best about the Heller books are Collins' ability to capture the era he's talking about and his ability to convince the reader that his fiction might really be closer to the truth of the matter than the official accounts. Both those strengths are on display here, and I could especially relate to the era this time, having been just about to turn 21 when Monroe died and having followed the case in the papers and magazines. As for the solution, well, let's just say that all the interlocking conspiracies Heller encounters take into account everything you've imagined and suspected. Collins brings them all together and comes up with a believable and satisfying solution that may be be as close to truth as we'll ever get. And it leaves Heller open to taking on what's sure to be the biggest case of his career in the next book.

This book's bound to be on a lot of award lists at year's end, and deservedly so. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

I saw a comment by Max that he's not particularly happy about that resemblance. I don't blame him. said...

I dislike the cover in general, though it's handsome. It comes from a photo session that had many better choices. This one is historically inaccurate and has that unfortunate reemblance of Spillane centerstage...that's not supposed to be Heller, by the way. Other shots in the photo session revealed the psuedo Spillane as an LAPD cop. Heller looks more like Peter Gunn or Stu Baliey at this age than Mike Hammer at any age.

Love the review, though....