Books by Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller historical thrillers; his other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the bestselling CSI series. His comics writing ranges from the graphic novel Road

GIRL MOST LIKELY by Max Allan Collins
Released: April 1, 2019

"The result is a sedate thriller that reads less like Collins' usual retro-pulp (Quarry's Climax, 2017, etc.) and more like that of his wife, Barbara Collins. Not that there's anything wrong with that."
Among the million visitors the little town of Galena, Illinois—the birthplace of U.S. Grant—attracts in a year are the attendees of a high school class reunion that seems to include a very determined killer. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 14, 2018

"A fast-paced tale related with novelistic drama."
A gritty dual biography reveals the underworld of crime and corruption in 1920s and '30s America. Read full book review >
QUARRY'S CLIMAX by Max Allan Collins
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"Plenty of fatalities, but you won't mourn them, since they're all a lot more forgettable than the vintage '70s soundtrack that seems to be pounding away in every room in Memphis."
A 1970s hit man who starred in last year's Cinemax series gets his strangest assignment to date: to prevent an unknown rival contractor from killing his target. Read full book review >
QUARRY IN THE BLACK by Max Allan Collins
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

"The inevitable friction between killers with very different agendas pays off in gory scenes and tawdry revelations that won't shock a soul. But historical-noir specialist Collins (Better Dead, 2016, etc.) provides appropriately retro pulpy pleasures along the way."
Just in time to celebrate his debut on the small screen in a Cinemax series, veteran hit man Quarry (Primary Target, 1987, etc.) returns to bookstores to execute a contract on a noted civil rights leader. Read full book review >
A LONG TIME DEAD by Mickey Spillane
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"But you didn't really need to read a word of this, since Spillane is by any measure the most review-proof name in the genre, and you'll have known perfectly well from the get-go whether or not you want to plunge into these not-quite-new adventures."
Though midcentury publishing phenom Spillane died 10 years ago, his notorious hero Mike Hammer lives again in these eight reprints of short stories completed by his latter-day collaborator Collins (Kill Me, Darling, 2015, etc.) and published, mostly in the Strand Magazine, over the past eight years. Read full book review >
BETTER DEAD by Max Allan Collins
Released: May 3, 2016

"Veteran author Collins knows detective novels work best when there's a rugged, flawed, self-aware sleuth, a shades-of-gray atmosphere, a righteous quest, and a bed-ready damsel, Bettie Page filling the bill here."
The prolific Collins (Ask Not, 2013, etc.) finds veteran gumshoe Nathan Heller in the McCarthy era, when Wisconsin's demagogue senator looked for a Commie under every bed and his counsel Roy Cohn manipulated the Rosenbergs into the electric chair. Read full book review >
ASK NOT by Max Allan Collins
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"No threat to the Warren Commission, but a fun, light foray into alternative history."
Collins (of Road to Perdition fame) wraps up his trilogy of thrillers on the John F. Kennedy assassination (Target Lancer, 2012, etc.), piling the conspiracy theories nearly as high as the corpses. Read full book review >
BYE BYE, BABY by Max Allan Collins
Released: Aug. 16, 2011

"Nothing new or very interesting in this rehashing of rumors surrounding Monroe's death, even for those who were around when she died."
Collins resurrects hard-boiled private eye Nathan Heller in this celebrity-studded take on Marilyn Monroe's death in August 1962. Read full book review >
KISS HER GOODBYE by Mickey Spillane
Released: May 25, 2011

"Working from an unfinished novel by the late Spillane, Collins provides the franchise's trademark winking salacity, self-congratulatory vigilantism and sadistic violence, topped off with a climax that combines the final scenes of two of Mike's most celebrated cases."
The violent death of his old cop mentor calls Mike Hammer back to New York and more of the same death-dealing intrigue he first made his specialty in I, the Jury 64 years ago. Read full book review >
THE GOLIATH BONE by Mickey Spillane
Released: Oct. 13, 2008

"Fans who aren't put off when Mike finally ties the knot with his preternaturally patient girl Friday, Velda Sterling, can relax. They're in good hands with Collins, who keeps up the vigilantism and the body count, tones down the violence and writes no worse than his master."
Spillane's posthumous novel, completed by his sometime collaborator Collins (co-editors: A Century of Noir, 2001, etc.), pits Mike Hammer against—who else?—Middle Eastern terrorists scrabbling for a priceless artifact. Read full book review >
ROAD TO PARADISE by Max Allan Collins
Released: Dec. 1, 2005

"Strong plotting and historical research can't redeem cardboard characters, stilted dialogue and heavy-handed themes."
The mobster trilogy reaches the end of the road, though the prose could use some visuals to bring the wooden writing to life. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 15, 2005

"Hardcore Spillane fans (are there any other kind?) will be thrilled. Others may hear a distinct scraping from the bottom of the barrel."
Still more rarities from the vaults of the blood-and-guts king of the 1950s: stories, comics, journalism, poetry. They even show Spillane's softer side. Read full book review >
ROAD TO PURGATORY by Max Allan Collins
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

"Collins clearly wants to be Mickey Spillane, and there's plenty of blazing .45 action to satisfy lovers of that sort of thing. But without the robotic Michael possessing a single human emotion, it's hard to care much what happens."
The Angel of Death is dead, but his spirit of vengeance lives on in his war-hero son, back to get revenge on the Chicago Outfit—again. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

"For the rest, Dick Lochte serves up an atmospheric triple-cross; Loren D. Estleman spins enough plot twists to make you forget, very briefly, about the low-orgasm count; and eight other tales bring the coupling back up to its normal speed for the series: about Mach 3."
A third helping of the stuff that makes the world go round, along with the stuff that brings it to an end, more often with a bang than a whimper. Read full book review >
KISSES OF DEATH by Max Allan Collins
Released: July 31, 2001

The doyen of the hard-boiled historical (Mourn the Living, 1999, etc.) has taken time out from his feverish production of novels, stories, and comic strips to assemble six stories and a novella, 1996-2001, in which Nate Heller, private eye to celebrity clients, tromps through American history from the '30s through the '60s, investigating the death of Thelma Todd, pursuing Frank Nitti, hobnobbing with Bill Veeck, and serving as bodyguard to Marilyn Monroe. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2001

"More menace than mystery, but Nate's return to Chicago restores him to his roots, moves this venerable series up to 1950, and shows a deeper grasp of criminal history than most of Nate's star-studded cases (Majic Man, 1999, etc.)."
There's no percentage in Nate Heller's getting involved with Senator Estes Kefauver's investigation of organized crime. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

"The only major disappointment among the 18 otherwise-new stories is Mickey Spillane's quaint reminder of how little it took to make a mystery look risqué back in 1973."
Somebody must sure like sex capped by murder (few crimes here less weighty than homicide), since this sequel to Collins and Gelb's 2001 Flesh & Blood has appeared with all the impatient haste of a john circling a city block. Read full book review >
FLESH & BLOOD by Max Allan Collins
Released: April 1, 2001

"Memo to next volume's contributors: Lust makes a great appetizer between the covers, but a more satisfying entrée between the sheets."
The concept must have seemed irresistible: Instead of using cats on vacation or Sherlock Holmes's Christmas to hang a collection of mysteries on, why not use something people are actually interested in reading about, like sweaty sex? Read full book review >
MURDER—HIS AND HERS by Barbara Collins
Released: April 1, 2001

Following a pair (naturally) of brief introductions, this husband-and-wife team presents eight reprints from the past decade: three by hard-boiled specialist Max (Mourn the Living, 1999, etc.), three by short-story specialist Barbara (Too Many Tomcats, 1999), and two collaborations: "Eddie Haskell in a Short Skirt," which pits a father-daughter detective team against their embezzling, then defunct, business manager; and "A Cruise to Forget," in which a Caribbean cruise does nothing for the love-life of a wealthy woman and her much younger husband. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

"Readers looking for the true highlights of this all-American genre, though, will need to look elsewhere."
First bad news: This "century" of reprints goes back only to a smartly depressing 1933 vignette by Chester Himes. Read full book review >
MOURN THE LIVING by Max Allan Collins
Released: Dec. 1, 1999

"But die-hard Collins fans might be curious to read how his career started, and heartened to see how much better he's gotten."
The first of Collins's five mystery series to see print, the pulp-action Nolan books, opened with Bait Money (1973) and apparently ended with Spree (1987). Read full book review >
MAJIC MAN by Max Allan Collins
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

"But not here."
Columnist Drew Pearson and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal see eye-to-eye on virtually nothing, though Nathan Heller (Flying Blind, 1998, etc.) gets hired by both. Read full book review >
FLYING BLIND by Max Allan Collins
Released: Aug. 3, 1998

"By and large, though, Nate's ninth is an entertaining case—if you aren't put off by the author's characteristically clunky prose."
Detective Nathan Heller (Damned in Paradise, 1996, etc.), trying to live the good life in Florida after his time with the Chicago PD, sets out to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance. Read full book review >
DAMNED IN PARADISE by Max Allan Collins
Released: Oct. 16, 1996

"Solid mid-grade work, well below the heights of Nate's seventh novel (Blood and Thunder, 1995, etc.)—mostly because the mystery is consistently less interesting than the oil-and-water cast of proletarians and socialites."
You wouldn't expect to find Clarence Darrow defending a quartet of vigilantes who shot a man a jury hadn't been able to convict of rape, but that's exactly what he spent the winter of 193132 doing—and, according to Collins's fictionalization, Nathan Heller, on leave from the Chicago police department, was at his side. Read full book review >
BLOOD AND THUNDER by Max Allan Collins
Released: Aug. 14, 1995

"Even though he fails again as a bodyguard, Nate's eighth book (Carnal Hours, 1994, etc.) may be his finest hour."
Nathan Heller may be a great detective, but you don't want the man as your bodyguard. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 8, 1994

"A solid collection guaranteed to get your adrenalin flowing, though your brain may remain in neutral."
Collins's new series of hard-boiled anthologies begins snappily with this collection of 17 stories about professional killers. Read full book review >
CARNAL HOURS by Max Allan Collins
Released: April 7, 1994

"Hardboiled true-crime fictionalizer Collins handles the political intrigue more expertly than the mystery; promising complications vanish in a haze of red herrings, but Nate still has a fine time making monkeys of an international alliance of lawmen."
MURDER BY THE NUMBERS by Max Allan Collins
Released: March 25, 1993

"Gritty details of interracial crime and punishment (the crime inevitably more rousing) enliven this otherwise routine Black Mask pastiche."
Legendary cop Elliot Ness, who's become a fixture in Collins's fact-based novels (Bullet Proof, 1989, etc.), goes up against Cleveland's Mayfield Road gang, the brainchild of two cousins, Black Sal Lombardi and Angelo Scalise, who've muscled in on the formerly black East Side numbers racket in 1938. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

"A collection most notable for the way it bridges the gap between the straightforward twists of Black Mask and the current slanted ironies of Paretsky and Estleman."
Nate Heller, president and sole employee of Chicago's A-1 Detective Agency (Stolen Away, etc.), takes on six real-life unsolved mysteries in this collection of stories set in the 30's and 40's. Read full book review >
STOLEN AWAY by Max Allan Collins
Released: May 15, 1991

"Her smile was a tragic fucking thing''), this is a meaty, satisfying rehash of the crime of the century—required reading for people who still wonder."
The Lindbergh kidnapping, with its pendant of unsolved mysteries and its merry-go-round of motley extortionists, is tailor-made for hard-boiled historical specialist Nate Heller (True Detective, Neon Mirage), whose hit-or-miss author pulls out all the stops in this lavish fictionalization. Read full book review >