Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Nightrunners: Michael Collins

I love the beginning paragraphs of this book... They set the story up so well.
It was the kind of house that made my father feel small–a nobody, nothing. Three stories, nearly thirty rooms, and half hidden by its own tall trees on some ten acres of Connecticut woods. A rolled lawn still green in November before the first snow, and a triple garage, with rooms above, that had been a coach house when the country was young. Not the Rockefeller mansion, no, but you knew that the people who lived here were someone.
My father had looked at houses like this one and talked about being no one. Not when I was small, but later, just before he disappeared. When I was small he'd been proud of being a New York City cop,  but later he watched important men in big cars driving out of big houses and talked about not even existing.
In this ninth book in the series, Dan Fortune has been summoned by Wallace Kern, President of Kern Laboratories, to find Kern's brother, William, a gambler who has disappeared. Fortune succeeds in this mission, but soon realizes that there is more to the story, and continues investigating. This story has twists and turns I did not anticipate, and not only in the mystery plot. Primarily set in New York, there are also side trips to Southern California and Mexico.

Fortune has only one arm, and he feels this makes him depend on his common sense and intelligence. Not much is said here about how he lost his arm. I enjoyed getting to know Dan Fortune and I liked the author's writing style. In this book, there is less action and gun play, and more emphasis on brains and persistence. Dan doesn't like to give up on a case. I will be going back to the beginning of the series to see the character's development, but also because the first novel in the series, Act of Fear, was very highly acclaimed.

Michael Collins was a pseudonym for Dennis Lynds. Lynds was from New York like his protagonist, but he moved to Santa Barbara when he was 41 and several of the books in the Dan Fortune series are set there. In Santa Barbara, Lynds became friends with Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar),  who "wrote a letter of introduction on Collins’ behalf to his old editor Ray Bond at Dodd, Mead paving the way for Act of Fear’s publication.  Macdonald also hooked Collins up with literary agent Dorothy Olding." (See this interesting article and interview at Mystery*File).

See Barry Ergang's review at Kevin Tipple's blog, Kevin's Corner.

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Publisher:  Robert Hale, London, 1979 (orig. pub. 1978)
Length:      216 pages
Format:     Hardcover
Series:      Dan Fortune, #9
Setting:     New York
Genre:      Mystery, Private Investigator
Source:     I purchased my copy

18 comments:

  1. I read one of the Fortune short stories and really liked it - really want to try and track some of novels down now. Thanks Tracy.

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    1. I enjoyed this and I look forward to reading Act of Fear sometime soon, Sergio. I have a book of short stories called Fortune's World, but I want to read more of the novels first.

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  2. Oh, I like Dan Fortune's character, Tracy, and I'm so glad you featured one of these stories. I agree about Collins' style, too (wasn't he prolific?). It's good to hear you enjoyed this one, and I hope you get the time to read more.

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    1. I hope I find time to read more books by Collins also, Margot. And I am glad I finally got started reading his books.

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  3. Hmm... you're having me wavering over this series now.I'm extremely interested!
    I have the first in a tub which I will try and dig out next year. Shame the series is about 20 books long. That said I think they are only a couple of pounds each on Kindle - the early ones at least.

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    1. I know, Col, another long series to start. But the first book is supposed to especially good. And I did notice that they are available on Kindle, I had not realized that.

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  4. Tracy – That really is a good opening. Thanks. I’ve put in a library request for ACT OF FEAR. And thanks for the links to more on Collins/Lynds.

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    1. You are welcome, Elgin. I was happy to find some good resources on Dennis Lynds and his writing career.

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  5. Bang-up opener, Tracy, and enticing review. I hadn't known of Collins, but intend soon to check him out.

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    1. He probably would not have been on my radar, Mathew, if it were not for the Santa Barbara connection. He has been on my "want" list for a long time and I finally ran into one of his books. Now I will seek out more of them.

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  6. Thanks, Tracy, for acknowledging my review. Lynds was a superb writer who merits the same kind of high critical regard Ross Macdonald has.

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    1. I agree, Barry. I have my copy of Act of Fear, and look forward to reading it soon. I was at my local independent book store today, and was encouraged to see that they stocked a copy of Act of Fear, next to Gayle Lynds' book (The Assassins, I think).

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  7. Somehow never heard of this guy, Tracy. But I like the sound of this book - like the sound of the main character. Thanks for the intro.

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    1. The character seems a bit different to me, Yvette. Seems like I will never run out of new authors to read.

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  8. New author to me, but I totally agree with you about the opening paragraphs - just the kind of thing I like, and promises really well...

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    1. Yes, Moira, I am hoping I like the earlier books in the Dan Fortune series as well as this one.

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  9. I remember buying Act of Fear in paper but never read it. Since you've shared the author's real name, I looked and found that he's published all of his books under his real name Lynds and bought the first ebook in the series. Thanks for the review and the info. This series looks good. --Keishon

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    1. Keishon, I had only noticed recently that all the Dan Fortune books had come out as e-books and trade paperbacks. His widow Gayle Lynds, also an author, worked to make them all available. I hope you enjoy the first one.

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