CARNAL HOURS by Max Allan Collins


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 Nassau, 1943. Hours after self-made billionaire Sir Harry Oakes hires Chicago shamus Nate Heller (Stolen Away, 1991, etc.) to dig up dirt on his daughter Nancy's fortune-hunting husband Count Freddie de Marigny, Sir Harry is dead--killed by a bizarre combination of head wounds, fire, and insecticide--and soon Nancy has Nate turned around, looking for evidence that will exonerate Freddie. A lesser detective would be daunted by the forces arrayed against him: the Attorney General is obviously railroading Freddie; the Duke of Windsor has imported a pair of Miami cops to preserve crime-scene fingerprints identified as Freddie's and destroy inconveniently non-Freddie prints; and Meyer Lansky makes it clear to Nate that, like the Duke, he has a vested interest in seeing the case go quietly to the jury. Luckily Nate will have the help of Hearst reporter Erle Stanley Gardner (who tells Nate, ``You're the genuine article! I'm the goddamn pretender'') and Naval Intelligencer Ian Fleming (``This aloof son of a bitch was a good storyteller,'' grudging Nate admits) in figuring out why everybody's determined to put Freddie on the spot, and who really did the dirty. 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.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1994
ISBN: 0-525-93758-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994


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