Chicago Confidential by Max Allan Collins
Nobody does historical hard-boiled detective fiction better than Max Allan Collins. He proves this once again in Chicago Confidential, a randy, rollicking read that finds series PI Nathan Heller squeezed dangerously between ambitious politicians and remorseless gangsters. The year is 1950, and America's first congressional inquiry into organized crime, led by presidential-hopeful U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, has swept into the Windy City on a tsunami of press coverage. Heller hopes to lie low until this subpoena-waving circus has passed. "While not a mob guy myself," he confides, "I had... certain underworld associations, and hence did know where a good share of the bodies were buried. Hell, I'd buried some of them." But, instead, he's catapulted into the investigative limelight, first by one of his employees--ex-cop Bill Drury, who agrees to cooperate with Kefauver's crusade--and then by his association with Jackie Payne, the abused, drug-addicted girlfriend of a powerful mobster. After hit men target Drury, and Jackie is abducted, Heller finds a way to get revenge and justice at the same time.
As in previous Heller outings, Chicago Confidential smoothly blends well-researched fact with fiction. The gumshoe pals around with crooner Frank Sinatra, falls (fast) to the seductive wiles of future starlet Jayne Mansfield, and is threatened by commie-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy. If Confidential is less darkly intense than Stolen Away or Hardcover edition.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Road to Perdition
Now in paperback...P.I. Nathan Heller takes on the Chicago mob-and carries on with bombshell Jayne Mansfield-in this brilliant historical mystery from the Shamus award-winner.
Well done entertainment, July 26, 2003
from Windermere, Florida USA
"Chicago Confidential" is the twelfth Nathan Heller novel from Max Allan Collins. It is a deft blending of true crime and mystery fiction---an astonishing mix of fact and fiction. His theories and conclusions are most convincing It is not a whodunit---rather it is about a famous time in crime. It is 1950 in Chicago as the initial congressional inquiry into organized crime is starting up. Heller runs the A-1 Detective Agency and is not mobbed up, but still has no desire to testify before Kefauver's committee. Heller's ability to work with the underworld figures as well as the law is what makes his agency successful. Ambitious politicos, rancorous gangsters and a couple of honest cops are the central figures Heller must deal with. Snappy dialog, menacing action sequences and scrupulous historical research make this hard-boiled thriller a treat. Among the real characters interacting with the concocted ones: Jayne Mansfield, Frank Sinatra, Drew Pearson, Sam Giancana, Senator Joe McCarthy.