Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook by Max Allan Collins

From Dick Tracy comics to historical thrillers, Max Allan Collins is a staple in mystery fiction.

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Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook by Max Allan Collins


  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Crippen & Landru, Publishers; (June 1, 2001)
  • ISBN: 1885941560

    Book Description

    The private eye is as American as mom, apple pie — and gangsters and bootlegging. A child of the Roaring Twenties and the Depression Thirties, he is a genuine American hero with his poetic slang and his attempt to make things right as he goes down Mean Streets.

    Max Allan Collins has recreated the great era of the P.I. in Nathan Heller. "I wanted to do the traditional P.I.," Collins writes in his introduction to Kisses of Death, "the tender tough guy in the trenchcoat and fedora with a bottle of wry in his bottom desk drawer. I didn't want to update him, and I didn't want to plop him down in contemporary times like a drunk who fell off a time machine." In novels and short stories, Collins has traced Heller's changes, and America's changes from the early thirties to the sixties, and in doing so has received a record nine Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations for his the series, winning twice. Each story investigates a genuine unsolved crime of the past.

    Kisses of Death contains the previous unpublished title novella, in which Heller becomes associated with Marilyn Monroe and solves the famous Bodenheim murders. In other stories, he finds a solution to the death of actress Thelma Todd, becomes associated with Eliot Ness, and discovers who killed the midget that Bill Veeck had come to bat in a major league baseball game.

    The book includes a new introduction and afterward by the author, and a Max Allan Collins checklist.

    Reader Reviews
    Collins' detective hero sure gets around, December 16, 2002 Reviewer: Joseph P. Menta, Jr. from Philadelphia, PA USA I always like it when a book is a fast, breezy read, yet still has a lot of meat to it. That's certainly the case here: the stories in this collection are all fast-paced, entertaining mystery thrillers, but these "tall tales" are also laced with lots of authentic period description and accurate biographical details about the true-life crime, crime-fighting, or celebrity figures depicted. It was especially interesting to read about Nate Heller's "true encounter" with Eliot Ness, where we learn that Ness wasn't quite the white-bread hero depicted in Brian De Palma's admittedly terrific "The Untouchables". All in all, a vastly entertaining and informative read.

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