STOLEN AWAY by Max Allan Collins


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 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. Sent east to help Slim Lindbergh after a false alarm in Chicago gives him the reputation of a kidnapping specialist (he really does recover the child, but it isn't Lindbergh's), Nate chases leads too wild for the uniformed boys--one trip to super- psychic Edgar Cayce in Virginia Beach, another to suspect spiritualist Sister Sarah Sivella and her fly-by-night husband Martin Marinelli, all of whose leads lead nowhere--and cultivates his suspicions of the Lindberghs' self-appointed go-between, Professor John F. ``Jafsie'' Condon, of Lindbergh servants Oliver and Elsie Whately and Violet Sharpe, of speak-easy king Mickey Rosner--in fact, of almost everybody involved that he's not actually sleeping with (an unlikely one-nighter with sister Sarah, and a much longer stint with Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who's willing to pay mobster Gaston Means a hundred grand to recover the baby). Nate's cynicism, of course, is all too justified: neither of the ransom payoffs pays off; a dead baby is identified as the kidnap victim; and Nate retreats to Chicago after Bruno Richard Hauptmann's arrest. And when New Jersey Governor Harold Hoffman invites him back four years later to dig up last-minute evidence for Hauptmann's reprieve, Nate quickly uncovers evidence that Hauptmann's been railroaded and that serious mob kingpins (Capone, Nitti) have been in on the case from the beginning--evidence that, like his identification of Lindbergh Junior as living in Michigan, he'll never be able to use in court. Ashes, ashes. Though Nate sometimes writes as if he's been shanghaied by history (``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.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-553-07133-5
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991


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