Manhattan, the summer of 1948, and Donny Harrison, the boss at Americana Comics celebrates his fiftieth birthday in the suite at the Waldorf he rentsManhattan, the summer of 1948, and Donny Harrison, the boss at Americana Comics celebrates his fiftieth birthday in the suite at the Waldorf he rents for his mistress Miss Harriet "Honey" Daily. However, he kindly invited his wife. For the party he dressed as Wonder Guy, the comic book super hero whose popularity made Donny Harrison rich and Americana a prominent publishing company. Among the party guests are Harry Spiegel and Moe Shulman, the creators of Wonder Guy who are well paid, but not rich. They do not own any rights to their creation. Jack Starr also attends. Starr works for his stepmother who runs the Starr Syndicate, a company that syndicates comic strips to newspapers that she started when Her first chosen profession, burlesque stripping, became illegal in New York. Starr Syndicate exclusively publishes the Wonder Guy daily comic strips.
Upon cutting the cake, Donny abruptly falls to the floor and lands on the cake knife. He dies instantly. It is assumed that he had a heart attack and unfortunately stabbed himself as he collapsed. Further in investigation reveals poison in Donny's system that caused his collapse. Investigators believe someone tampered with Donny's diabetes medication. As it happens, Spiegelman and Shulman were in negotiations with Maggie Starr at Starr Syndicate for a big deal on a new creation. Now they're the top suspects in a murder case. Maggie needs her poetential clients either cleared or convicted soon in order to properly conduct business at her company. She puts Jack on the job whose one of many hats at the syndicate is their own private investigator. He's a licensed private investigator and uses it exclusively for the company. Now that Jack's on the case he hopes his familiarity and his father's good name among the suspects and witness can get him on the inside track the police can't access.
Max Allan Collins masterfully uses the trappings of a classic 1940s hard-boiled mystery in a narrative style comparable to masters Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane and makes it all his own with a twist of 21st Century iron and nostalgia. As if Collin's writing didn't provide enough to lend to the authentic feel of A Killing in Comics but the rich Eisner-esque black and white illustrations of Terry Beatty, with their square-jawed heroes and bee-stung lipped ladies bring much more to the feel of the book which is fun from the first letter to the last. Collins certainly butters his bread by writing nostalgically for his period mysteries like this one but he brings with him a wit and demeanor that slightly rings of someone who knows where history goes after this period. Its amazing how he does it with enough subtlety that could almost be missed.
A Killing in Comics provides addictive and fun reading for almost anyone but especially for Max Allan Collins fans who must not skip this one. ...more
Nolan, a professional thief who worked for the mafia, runs afoul of mob boss, Charlie, when he kills his brother. Nolan is in deeper shit when he learNolan, a professional thief who worked for the mafia, runs afoul of mob boss, Charlie, when he kills his brother. Nolan is in deeper shit when he learns that Charlie exposed Nolan's cover name and now a great deal of scratch he had packed away for his retirement became untouchable. After many years go by Charlie puts out the word that he wants a meeting with Nolan. He can't resist and goes to Charlie doing his best to keep things to his advantage to survive the encounter.
As it turns out Charlie extends the olive branch and wants to bury the hatchet with Nolan so they can get on with the rest of their lives, both men push 60. Charlie wants Nolan to pull one last job. Nolan agrees and goes on his way waiting to hear about the job. The info will come when it comes. Nolan is sent to meet Planner, an antiques dealer in Iowa City whose shop is really a front for his fencing business. He also assigns jobs to professional thieves. Planner assigns Nolan a bank job, but to Nolan's dismay, with three twenty somethings including Planner's nephew Jon. Planner tells Nolan it's the best he can do because no one in the mob wants to work with him.
They manage to pull in over 800Gs on the bank job. Nolan learns to get along with planner's nephew Jon, but things don't work out so well for the other two kids. Unfortunately, the whole thing turns out to be a double cross. However, Nolan can have the last laugh because the money he handed over to Charlie was what the bank tellers call "bait money" which is marked bills for given to petty stick up men. Later Charlie finds himself in good with "The Family" and works out a deal where they get a significant cut of the money and in return Charlie gets to run a night club/motel. In the mean time Charlie hides the money and sits on it a while until it cools. However, before the money cools it's stolen and Nolan's good friend Planner is killded. Reluctantlhy Nolan goes back into action.
Originally, Two for the Money was published as two separate novels back in 1970. When Hard Case Crime wanted to reprint these books Collins requested they combing the two into one back and Hard Case Crime complied. The novels Bait Money and Blood Money go very well together and the biggest perk is getting two Max Allan Collins novels at a low price. This book only strengthens my view as a fan of Max Allan Collins.
Collins knows how to write great novels from both the cop or detective's point of view and the criminal's point of view. Even more than Quarry, an assassin from another series by Collins) we see how Nolan has to live with his own code and adhere to it to be a successful professional criminal because there is just far less of a margin for error. Nolan is the classic tough guy which plays well in contrast to the very green Jon. They are each of a different era but they learn to respect each other. I think it's brilliant in how these unlikely two become friends and yet do not compromise their characters at all to do so.
Oddly the book doesn't explode with action from page to page but when the action comes it sure feels like it. Of course the action is more like perks in the flow of the novel where the strong characterization made me hang onto the book, each character made sense and made me only want to read more when I was done and fortunately there are more Nolan novels I got to track down. ...more
I only came to know of Greta Christina recently through her guest appearances on various podcasts I listen to (Geeks without God for one) promoting WhI only came to know of Greta Christina recently through her guest appearances on various podcasts I listen to (Geeks without God for one) promoting Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless. I liked what she said and checked out her blog, Greta Christina's Blog, then I got my hands on this book. In it, Christina reaches out to the religious and atheist alike in an accessible and vibrant conversational tone. The reader gets the list and the anger promised by the title but it's not nasty in the slightest. Although she admits anger fuels the views discussed in the book, her frankness and clarity express such a personal touch that the reader identifies with Christina and goes off the defensive.
Her appeal to believers lets no one off the hook, but she expresses her misgivings in a manner that welcome the reader to take her views seriously. Her appeal to atheists is a call to action that says things in many ways I, an atheist, didn't consider, and it finally got me off my ass to start writing the blog I meant to start longer ago than I care to admit. I thank Greta Christina for this book. It changed my life and I was already an atheist....more