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The War of the Worlds Murder (Disaster Series, #6)
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The War of the Worlds Murder (Disaster #6)

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  27 reviews
New York City, October 1938. The shadow of war in Europe falls ominously across the face of America. Yet, it is another Shadow--the mystery man of the radio airwaves voiced by Orson Welles--who captures the imagination of listeners across the nation, offering hope in these troubled times in the form of vengeful justice. Pulp scribe Walter Gibson, The Shadow's creator, has ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Berkley (first published January 1st 2005)
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Wow! The way Max Collins interweaves his real experience with Walter Gibson (aka Maxwell Grant) at a 1975 convention of mystery writers and a story in which Gibson solves a mystery involving the great Orson Welles and the brilliant John Houseman leaves one wondering where the “history” ends and the fiction begins. Collins has done his homework on both Welles and Houseman, as well as the most famous radio broadcast in U.S. history, The War of the Worlds. He demonstrates the phenomenal energy of t ...more
Michael Bradley
Being a fan of the excitement and drama that came out of the Golden Age of Radio, I found myself drawn to the book that I just finished reading. The War of The World Murder by Max Allan Collins is set in 1938, just before and during the famous "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air on CBS. Collins embroils Orson Welles and pulp writer Walter Gibson - creator of the pulp superhero The Shadow - in a murder mystery when a body is discovered in the CBS ...more
Bev Hankins
Unlike the Sherlock Holmes pastiche of a similar name (which I read last year), The War of the Worlds Murder by Max Allan Collins does not take place in the world of the H. G. Wells classic. At least, not exactly. This story revolves around the historic Mercury Theatre radio presentation of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles which caused mass panic in 1938. It features Welles, John Houseman, and Walter Gibson (aka Maxwell Grant), creator of the Shadow, among other historical figures. And, as ...more
As the title implies, this murder mystery takes place in and around the recording of the infamous radio play. Besides the known players, we are introduced to Walter Gibson, the creator of the Shadow (as we know him) an writer of MANY of the Shadow's adventures.

The first half of the book sets up the motives for the mystery but at the same time is a fascinating look at the day to day lives of The Mercury Theartre players at that time.

Don't start the second half of the book if you don't have the t
This is tHe second book I've read by Max Allen Collins. The other was a collection of short stories featuring his Nat Heller character. Those stories, like this one, we're set in the past and featured real people in major roles. This novel was part of his disaster series and I plan to read more from the series as this one was quite interesting.

Most of us are familiar with the events depicted here. The panic that took place during the airing of this play. I've read the original novel and the play
Jean-Pierre Vidrine
For someone like me who is a fan of Orson Welles, the Shadow, classic radio shows, and all things War of the Worlds, this book was a godsend. Featuring Orson Welles and Shadow creator Walter Gibson as main characters, the novel tells of all the creativity and chaos that went into creating the simulated newscasts that fooled thousands and caused panic. But, moments before the broadcast, a dead body is found in the studio . . . and that's all I'll tell you about that. I'm not one to give out spoil ...more
Rene' Mateo
I like the author's books.

I've read quite a few of Max's works, especially his "Nate" character, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Almost like a history lesson.
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Oct 06, 2013 L rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
Collins is an amazing story teller! He had me hooked with his first few sentences. The characters are terrific, as is the sense of time and place. There is mystery here, but the book is really about the famous broadcast and Collins tells it so well that you really can picture the whole thing--the scene inside the studio, the small scenes in which a number of specific people/families heard & reacted to the broadcast,and some sense of how things played out in public spaces. Terrific book!
This was a fun re-telling of the infamous Orson Welles radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds, featuring Maxwell Grant, pulp writer of the Shadow series and Bernard Herrmann, whom I much admire, as well as Orson Welles himself, which made this an addictive read for myself. The 'murder' plot around the radio play itself is weak, but this didn't deflect from a fun narration of what happened on that Halloween evening.
Susan Jo Grassi
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very fast read and kept my attention through out. My mother had told me about the broadcast and how she and her family had to turn off the lights and sit in the floor of their living room to listen to it because of the crazy people running up and down the street screaming and firing guns in the air. I'm looking forward to finding another of Collins' "disaster" series.
Josh Reinhard
All in all his was a very well written book and I really enjoyed it. The downside was very little of it actually had anything to do with a murder. It was more a behind the scenes look at what took place leading up to and during the airing of the now infamous radio program. It was a fascinating look at the panic that ensued. I would have given it 5+ stars if the murder mystery took up more of the book.
A hodge-podge gumbo of fiction and truth that is breezy and fun, surrounding the legendary Orson Welles broadcast in 1938. Collins paints a well researched portrait of the days surrounding the event and blends his fiction in so well that its hard to separate what's invented and what's true.

An extra treat for lovers of old radio and the era, but a fine work even beyond that.
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I am a great fan of the prolific Mr. Collins. What makes this novel so entertaining is the cast of well known characters, the great "War of the Worlds" broadcast background and the historical background about Broadway and New York that Collins provides. Very entertaining read.
An enjoyable book, even more so if you are a fan of Orson Welles, The Shadow, and The War of the Worlds. I would have given it four stars if (and I am not giving away any spoilers) the plot was not such a let down. I have to admit that I ended the book feeling disappointed.
From the Prologue to the very end, you keep wondering. You are right there with the writer seeing it all happen. Collin's research makes this book so real that you have to remind yourself it's just fiction. Great writing and great research. A great read.
Once again reading a book in this "disaster" series made me want to read or in this case listen to something by the author/detective featured in the book. I'd love to listen to a Shadow radio show, especially one with Orson Welles as the Shadow.
Shawn Manning
This was an absolute hoot. Quite a bit lighter than Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, which also featured Walter Gibson as a main character. Some great cameos by other celebrities of the era. Highly recommended.
Chris Leib
Probably the least gripping of all of Collins' historical murder series. Try The Titanic Murders or The Hindenburg Murders for a better thought-out intertwining of history and fiction.
David Leger
While the mystery itself is not as cryptic as some, the whole characterization of Orson Welles is well done, and I found this to be a fun read, and it kept my attention.
3.5 stars, actually. The historical information was very interesting, but the mystery/crime aspect itself left something to be desired.
I used to love mysteries. This novel helped me remember why. It was a quick read that drew me in. Mixing in history was a plus.
Mar 09, 2009 Lara rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read a book during a rainy weekend.
Recommended to Lara by: Linda R
Cop-out ending, but reading the other parts that took place during the radio show was fun.
The stuff about the War of the Worlds broadcast was fun, the "mystery", not so much.
Wonderful. A bit hero-worshippy dry in the first chapter, but stick with it.
Simon Bucher-jones
Simon Bucher-jones marked it as to-read
Jan 28, 2015
Dyfdd marked it as to-read
Jan 19, 2015
Suzanne Jozayt
Suzanne Jozayt marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
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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

Disaster (6 books)
  • The Titanic Murders (Disaster Series, #1)
  • The Hindenburg Murders (Disaster Series, #2)
  • The Pearl Harbor Murders (Disaster Series, #3)
  • The Lusitania Murders (Disaster Series, #4)
  • The London Blitz Murders (Disaster Series, #5)
Supreme Justice Road to Perdition Bones Buried Deep (Bones, #1) The Mummy Sin City (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, #2)

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