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Target Lancer (Nathan Heller #16)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Long before November 22, 1963, Nathan Heller, “P.I. to the Stars,” knows that a conspiracy is in the works. Several years earlier, Heller had been involved with the Kennedys, the Mob, and the CIA in the early stages of a plan to assassinate Fidel Castro. Shortly after, Heller’s Mafia contact is murdered.

After being interrogated by gangsters and contacted by U.S. Attorney G
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Forge Books (first published November 27th 2012)
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There’s a sense half way through "Target Lancer" that Max Allen Collins has maybe found a crime that looms too large in the American psyche to cleanly tackle. The newest Nate Heller mystery (can we call the Heller series mysteries?) uncovers an assassination conspiracy against President John F. Kennedy. But instead of Dallas, November 22nd, we’re in Chicago three weeks earlier with a scenario of multiple gunmen setting up a patsy as the lone gunman fall guy. Sound Familiar?

This is a great story
It's now over thirty years since Max Allan Collins began the True Detective, Nate Heller, series. We have seen Heller progress from a Chicago cop to a private detective to the head of a multi-city detective agency. In telling these tales, Collins has merged several genres including: historical fiction, pulp fiction, police procedural and speculative fiction. That he is able to carry this off with continuing style and grace is no small accomplishment.

First, he gets his history well grounded. He
Mitch Duckworth
Max Allan Collins writes an absorbing fictionalized account of the Kennedy assassination that wasn't; the Chicago plot that was scheduled to go down on November 2, 1963. The conspiracy and its players were in place and ready to strike when the White House opted for a last-minute change of schedule. The President did not go to Chicago, and in his sixteenth appearance as a protagonist in a Max Allan Collins novel, sleuth Nathan Heller helped foil a conspiracy that shared the hallmarks that were to ...more
When I sat down and started reading TARGET LANCER, it didn't take me long to realize it was not the story I expected. Oh, there's a plot to kill President Kennedy alright, just not the one I expected. In his research for this book, Max Collins discovered there had been another known plan that would happen in Chicago. Not a lot is known, but enough to whet the author's imagination.

Heller gets pulled in when a man who'd did some PR work for him years ago asks him to function as a bodyguard while h
Max Allan Collins has insinuated his Chicago detective Nate Heller into some of history's most notorious events: Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater, Huey Long, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Amelia Earhart's disappearance and many more. In "Target Lancer" Collins has Nathan Heller in the middle of perhaps America's biggest mystery/conspiracy~the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In "Target Lancer" Collins avoids Dallas entirely, instead focusing on the often overlooked but very real plot
Gloria Feit
There are so many conspiracy theories about the assassination of President Kennedy that another one hardly is necessary. Except that this entertaining mystery novel is not only entertaining, but actually based on a little-known event that took place in Chicago, days before Dallas. It is another in the Nate Heller series, all of which are based on some historical occurrence, such aske the Lindbergh kidnapping, the assassination of Chicago Mayor Cermak (when the real attempt was meant for FDR), Hu ...more
I read a couple thrillers every week and most of the time I don't see any reason to review them. They're fun for me, but not noteworthy. I'm reviewing this one because of the unusual premise: the hero foils a plot to assassinate JFK -- in Chicago!-- at the end of October, 1963. It starts out with the cliché: do you remember where you were...? I loved the way real-life characters were woven into the story. There were lots of details of Chicago society and real estate in the mid-60s. The author is ...more
Nate Heller, "P.I. to the stars," has been involved in big cases before: Huey Long, Amelia Earhart, etc. This time he's involved with the largely unknown attempt to assassinate JFK in Chicago on November 2, 1963. It's not a practice run for Dallas. Dallas is a fallback after the failure of the Chicago attempt (and an attempt after Chicago in Tampa). The members of the hit team (Cuban emigres, CIA hangers-on, the Mafia, and right-wing elements) are all familiar, save for a Oswald look-alike (Vall ...more
Stephen Terrell
When it comes to the JFK assassination, I'm an absolutist. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Jack Ruby acted out of rage and because he thought he would be a hero. There was no conspiracy.

But if I was inclined to believe in conspiracies, it would be the tale crafted by Max Allan Collins. A story set in Chicago 3 weeks before Dallas. There are enough actual facts weaved through this story to make it plausible. Cubans, Jimmy Hoffa, Ruby and Oswald, the Mob, the Company, Operation Mongoose and even fa
Brian Clarke
This one's about a plot to assassinate JFK in Chicago in early November, 1963. Obviously it is going to fail, because if it didn't, that would be changing history, and Collins isn't about to do that.
This is another winner in a great series, which dates all the way back to 1983, almost 30 years and no sign of slowing down. Even though Heller is now in his late fifties.
I've heard that the next book will be about the assassination of Robert F Kennedy. I'm looking forward to it! but that's at lea
the second of the JFK assassination trilogy. I liked the Marilyn one better - but this is still a good historical novel explaining history using information that only recently became available. History isn't always what you remember...
Michael A
more background in this the middle book of the assignation trilogy.
Max Allan Collins again fuses fact with fiction to create a thrilling detective story. The plot to kill JFK isn't new, but damn if Collins didn't come up with an angle that hooks the reader in and just doesn't let go. And the research by Collins and George Hagenauer is exemplary. Chicago, 1963, just comes alive in the book. As do the characters, both real and fictional.
Kate Krake
While the JFK legend isn't really my thing (something I put down generally to my age and my nationality), this is a pretty commendable work of historical fiction slash conspiracy fiction and a decent read overall. Anyone interested in the JFK conspiracies will be sure to get a kick out of it, as will a lot of fans of crime writing in general.

Mark Burnham
Good take on the JFK story.
Thomas D Sinex
Lots of JFK conspiracy B.S., but enjoyable stuff...
Max Allan Collins' Target Lancer is a mixture of researched historical fact woven into plausible fiction. He tells the story of a foiled plot to murder JFK in Chicago, three weeks before the Dallas assassination...a story that could possibly be less fictitious than the Warren Commission's report. I like Collins' style, and I will be seeking out more of his Nathan Heller series.
When combined with the following novel, "Ask Not" ,Collins has created a story line that will give JFK conspiracy theorists all they could want. As with all the Nate Heller novels, Collins accurately reflects the society of the time frame covered in the novels. First rate.
Max Allan Collins has developed a niche - historical detective novels. He researches well known crimes (or near-crimes in this case) and then inserts his detective, Nate Heller, into the case. This book is a fascinating study of a foiled assasination attempt on JFK's life early in November 1963 in Chicago.
Warren Bumpus
Max Allan Collins provides a slice of history in his novels. Nathan Heller novels are all based on events and plausible variations on what could have happened. He captures the time that the stories are set in, as well as providing an interesting story. Read it!
Robert James
I had high expectations for this book because Mr. Collins is one of my favorite writers. While not exactly meeting those expectations, the book is entertaining and is a very quick read. If you have never read a Nathan Heller book, the best is "Stolen Away".
One of the best of the Nathan Heller series,by the prolific and talented Max Allan Collins. Collins brings Chicago and the Nation of 1963 to life with excellent research and good writing, a must read for people interested in the period.
John Yingling
I was very eager to read this book, so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, they weren't met in this uninvolving, slightly boring presentation.
Sharon Holford

Once again, a well researched and entertaining book with the private eye Nathan Heller and JFK as the target of the story. Good book.
Christopher Day
My favorite Heller in awhile. Made all the better for having Second City and Del Close as minor, passing characters.
Excellent job of incorporating thorough research and history into an entertaining fiction.
Chad de Lisle
Historical fiction meets crime thriller- a tensely erotic Nate Heller novel.
Well if you like conspiracy plots…
you HAVE TO READ this book.
well written and thought provoking
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2006.

He has also published under the name Patrick Culhane. He and his wife, Barbara Collins, have written several books together. Some of them are published under the name Barbara Allan.

Book Awards
Shamus Awards Best Novel winner (1984) : True Detective
Shamus Awards Best Novel winner (1992) : Stolen Away
Shamus Awards Best Novel nom
More about Max Allan Collins...

Other Books in the Series

Nathan Heller (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • True Detective
  • True Crime (Nathan Heller, #2)
  • The Million Dollar Wound (Nathan Heller, #3)
  • Neon Mirage (Nathan Heller, #4)
  • Dying in the Post-War World (Nathan Heller Short Stories, Volume 1)
  • Stolen Away (Nathan Heller, #6)
  • Carnal Hours (Nathan Heller, #7)
  • Blood and Thunder (Nathan Heller, #8)
  • Damned in Paradise (Nathan Heller, #9)
  • Flying Blind (Nathan Heller #10)
Supreme Justice Road to Perdition Bones Buried Deep (Bones, #1) The Mummy Sin City (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, #2)

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