Wednesday, January 9, 2019

True Detective: Max Allan Collins

True Detective is a historical mystery, with a private detective as the protagonist. Likable, not damaged, but not perfect either. And set in a very interesting time and place: Chicago during Prohibition, early 1930s.

Nate Heller has always wanted to be a detective, and started out in the Chicago police. After having to go along with some illegal activities within the department, he decides that isn't the type of detective he wants to be, and sets himself up as a private investigator. He doesn't have much money but he is very resourceful and has some useful friends.

The author, Max Allan Collins, sets the stories for this series alongside real historical events. In this book, some of the real characters are obvious... Eliot Ness and George Raft for example. There are a lot of other real people involved, but I did not know enough history to recognize many of them, so it did not spoil my enjoyment at all. The story begins in 1932, at the end of Prohibition, and includes the election of Franklin Roosevelt, and the World's Fair of 1933.

I loved how this was written and I found Nate Heller to be a fantastic character. The story is told from his point of view in first person, which I always enjoy. It is on the hard-boiled side, with no coziness at all, and a good bit of sex and violence.


Several sections of the book begin with period photos from the time: Maxwell Street in Chicago, Hooverville, the Chicago Water Tower, the Chicago World's Fair.

Max Allan Collins is a very prolific and versatile author. He has written several other popular series: the Frank Nolan series, the Quarry series, the Mallory series, and a Disaster series. Between 1977 and 1993, he scripted Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip. And much more.


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Publisher:   Tor Books, 1986 (orig. publ. 1983)
Length:      370 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       Nathan Heller, #1
Setting:      Chicago, 1932-33 
Genre:       Historical Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book... a long time ago.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad that you reviewed this one, Tracy. I've been wanting to read this series and just haven't yet. It sounds really enjoyable, and it's good to hear you like it so well.

J. Kingston Pierce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Kingston Pierce said...

I've read all of Max Allan Collins' Nate Heller novels, with delight. I look forward to the next one, which I understand will be titled DO NO HARM, and will place Heller in the midst of the confusing Sam Sheppard murder case.

Cheers,
Jeff

Rick Robinson said...

Nice review, Tracy. I really like the Heller books, my favorites of Collins' fiction. I have a few left to read, including this one, but the are all sitting on the shelf.

Peggy Arthurs said...

Sounds interesting Tracy. I like the historical aspect of it too!

TracyK said...

I was very pleased with this book, Margot, and I plan to read more of the series.

TracyK said...

I am glad to hear that, Jeff. I did not know that a new book in the series is coming out. I plan to read the books in order, but not sure if that is necessary.

TracyK said...

I do want to try other series by Collins, Rick, but will probably focus on this one.

TracyK said...

I don't know why it took me so long to get to reading this, Peggy, but very glad I did. I was not bothered by real characters included in the story at all.

Jerry House said...

There's a lot of research behind this series, which gets Heller involved in some of the Twentieth Century's most notable mysteries, including the Lindberg kidnapping,the Amelia Earhart disappearance, the Roswell sightings, and the JFK assassination. I'm a big Collins fan and have found nearly everything he writes to be well-plotted and highly enjoyable.

Mathew Paust said...

I've enjoyed several of the Nate Keller mysteries. Nate meets a lot of pretty girls, all with "heart-shaped" faces. I've a feeling I know what type of face turns Maxie on!

TracyK said...

Thanks for that information, Jerry. I definitely plan to read all of this series. I will also try some other series. Right now I have some of the Disaster series and the comic book series (Jack and Maggie Starr).

TracyK said...

Glad to hear that, Mathew. I had a feeling that Nate wasn't going to settle down anytime soon.

Clothes In Books said...

Oh this sounds interesting. I am sure I have read something by this author, but not sure what it was!

Graham Powell said...

I read it quite a while ago but it still stands out in my memory. A really good and original work.

TracyK said...

It was very good, Moira. I would like to try other series he has written, but I am even more interested in continuing this one.

TracyK said...

Yes, this is a very unique book, Graham. The Toby Peters series by Stuart Kaminsky is has similar elements, but more humorous, if I remember correctly.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I definitely intend to read (for the first time) Max Allan Collins' work this year. I have read that he is a terrific writer.

TracyK said...

I know you will like whatever you choose by this author, Prashant. And he has written various types of mysteries, so there is lots to choose from.

col2910 said...

Glad you enjoyed this one Tracy. I hope you read more from him.