What I Am Reading – Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins writes a lot. He writes a ton of movie/tv tie-ins. He writes about hit men (see his Quarry novels). He writes a lot of Mickey Spillane (what do you call it when an author completes the unfinished work of a deceased legend?). He writes graphic novels (Road to Perdition…of Tom Hanks fame). Probably massive amount of other stuff, that I am forgetting. What I always turn to MAC for, however, is his Nate Heller books.

Heller is a PI that somehow finds himself involved in nearly every high-profile “crime” case in the 20th century. I’ve read cases involving Chicago gangsters, the Roswell incident, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Marilyn Monroe’s death, and, now, the Black Dahlia case. I haven’t read all of the series, and I certainly haven’t read them in order, but visiting with Nate is nearly alway a good time.

Of course, this encounter with Nate was spurred on by my recent watching of I Am the Night. I’ve also ready Jame Ellroy’s Black Dahlia a couple of times, and have seen the movie based on it. Point being, this particular case isn’t new ground for me (or most anyone). Still MAC’s take on it is original and very readable. It does deal with the standard uncomfortable material, but some doesn’t come off completely weirdo.  And, as far as I know MAC’s whodunnit is a completely original proposition. (Which I will not spoil).

I never really know where the historical stops and the fictional picks up in a Heller book, and this one was no different.  I think that is a good sign for an historical fiction writer.

If you have any interest at all in Historical Mysteries or P.I. fiction, you should give this series a look:

http://www.maxallancollins.com/books/

By the way, in the Longarm post I mentioned that I had scored a handful of Harry Whittington penned Longarms. I’ve made it through the first one Whittington wrote, and it was just great, pure pulp fun. I’d even go so far to say that the Larry Flint material was light for a Longarm… which is okay by me!

–TD

white petaled flower
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What I Am Watching – I Am the Night

Last week, I binge watched the TNT mini-series I Am the Night. The fact that I binge watched it, probably tells you that I enjoyed it.

<Possible Spoilers>

The Black Dahlia connection was what got me to the couch, but it isn’t what kept me there. After all, there have been plenty of Dahlia stories over the years. I Am the Night shares the downright creepiness of all of the Dahlia stories, but it’s really where it departs from the typical Dahlia telling that it shines.

You see, the Black Dahlia is only flimsily connected to this story. In fact, if you haven’t heard the name George Hodel before and you come at the series without any of the hype, you may not catch on to a Dahlia connection until late in episode 2 or maybe episode 3 (I don’t recall).

This is really the story of Fauna Hodel, and her search for answers to her mysterious origins. And let me tell you, those mysterious origins are almost as creepy as anything else you heard about the Dahlia case.

The acting is strong.

It’s a period piece. I like period pieces.  The fact that it is set in the 60’s and not the 40’s is one of those departures I mention above.

It’s attached to a historical unsolved crime.

Those are all reasons I loved the show.  But my recommendation comes with a caveat… if any of these things bother you to a point you can’t enjoy a story, think twice.

Inter-racial relations.  Incest. Mutilation. Queasy sex.

It’s a very uncomfortable story, but it is fascinating and you will be rooting for Fauna by the end.

— TD

If you need a reprieve from the darkness, my books about corrupt NCAA recruiting schemes and a murdered nun with a shady past pale by comparison.

Universal links:

Everything is Broken

and

North County Girl