Thursday, September 05, 2013

Ask Not -- Max Allan Collins

If you've read Bye Bye, Baby and Target Lancer, the two previous novels in Max Allan Collins' Nate Heller series, you've probably been looking forward to this one as much as I have.  And if you've read them and still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman, well, this may be the book that convinces you he wasn't.

(A personal aside, a little story that's part of our family lore.  When it was announced that JFK would be visiting Dallas, my great uncle, Ben Jackson, said, "He's crazy.  If he comes to Dallas, LBJ will have him killed."  So my family has always been a little ahead of the conspiracy curve.)

The JFK assassination is pretty much old news as the book opens.  Heller's interest in the case is at first purely personal.  Someone attempts to run him and his son down as they're leaving a Beatles concert in Chicago, and Heller recognizes the driver of the car as one of the men involved in the conspiracy laid out on Target Lancer.  Heller thinks someone's trying to get rid of loose ends, and he determines to put a stop to that.  (Lots of other loose ends connected to the assassination died in odd ways later on, as the novel makes clear, so Heller is right to be concerned.) 

Heller travels all over the country, from Chicago to L. A. to New Orleans, before winding up in Dallas, where a reporter (based on Dorothy Kilgallen) gets him involved with her investigation of the Kennedy assassination.  

Once again Heller's involved with all sorts of historical characters, from Jack Ruby to Robert Kennedy.  Most of them are given their real names, though some, like the reporter I mentioned above, are not.  Collins tells you all about them in the novel's afterword, which also demonstrated the impressive breadth and depth of his and George Hagenhauer's research.  

This is a fast-moving and fascinating account of what might have happened, and it makes for irresistible reading.  Collins had once thought that Heller's career might end here, but the good news is that he's considering moving on the the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.  I'm sure he'll have some new angles and insights on these crimes, and I hope he carries out his plans.


Jerry House said...

Like you, I've been looking forward to this one for quite some time. I've enjoyed everything I have read by Collins.

Gerard said...

I started listening to MILLION DOLLAR WOUND last night.