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It's 1962, and Twentieth Century Fox is threatening to fire Marilyn Monroe. The blond goddess hires Nate Heller, private eye to the stars, to tap her phone so she will have a record of their calls in case they take her to court. When Heller starts listening, he uncovers far more than nasty conversations. The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia--even the Russians--are involved in actions focused on Marilyn. She's the quintessential American cultural icon, idolized by women, desired by men, but her private life is... ...
It's 1962, and Twentieth Century Fox is threatening to fire Marilyn Monroe. The blond goddess hires Nate Heller, private eye to the stars, to tap her phone so she will have a record of their calls in case they take her to court. When Heller starts listening, he uncovers far more than nasty conversations. The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia--even the Russians--are involved in actions focused on Marilyn. She's the quintessential American cultural icon, idolized by women, desired by men, but her private life is... complicated...and her connection to the Kennedys makes her an object of interest to some parties with sinister intentions.
Not long after Heller signs on, Marilyn winds up dead of a convenient overdose. The detective feels he owes her, and the Kennedys, with whom he busted up corrupt unions in the 1950s. But now, as Heller investigates all possible people--famous, infamous, or deeply cloaked--who might be responsible for Marilyn's death, he realizes that what has become his most challenging assignment may also be the end of him.
PI Nathan Heller returns in his first new novel in a decade, as Max Allan Collins brings to life a vivid star-studded cast, from JFK and RFK to Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, from Jimmy Hoffa and Joe DiMaggio to Hugh Hefner and Sam Giancana. Bye Bye, Baby is a Hollywood tale you never thought could happen…but probably did.
“With its fascinating period narrative and affecting inter-generational story, Road to Purgatory is a delight for fans of the original story and newcomers as well.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“The characters, historical and fictional, come delightfully to life... Collins paints a web of interconnections in a tightly woven plot and posits a radical solution to a crime that still resonates in literature and movies.” —Publishers Weekly on Angel in Black
Collins resurrects hard-boiled private eye Nathan Heller in this celebrity-studded take on Marilyn Monroe's death in August 1962.
Heller, a Chicago-based private eye and celebrity magnet, is in California doing what he does best: hobnobbing with the rich, famous and notorious. One of those just happens to be the infamous sex goddess Monroe, who has hired Heller to tap her own phone. She has been feuding with her studio over a movie that shut down while filming, supposedly as a result of the actress's instability. She's afraid the studio is pinning the movie's failure to launch on her and wants the tapes as protection, but Heller finds out there's many more people interested in Monroe's private conversations besides studio bigwigs, including, but not limited to, the Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, Joe DiMaggio and some of the biggest and most notorious gangsters during Monroe's time. Heller gets curious and starts piecing together the web in which Monroe has gotten herself caught and finds that very powerful men are very, very afraid of what the slightly unstable, but very beautiful, young woman might be planning. Then, when she turns up dead, Heller believes a cover-up is underway and starts working to prove it.Collins writes the hard-boiled detective genre with a perfect ear, but his Heller is a tiresome name-dropper who has been involved in every event of historical importance in the proceeding 35 years, including Hugh Hefner's purchase of the Playboy Mansion and the Bay of Pigs. Driving his white Jag, wearing his Botany 500 suits and stuffing his Ray-Bans in his pocket, Heller has sex with Monroe, gives advice to Bobby Kennedy and trades insider jokes with the Rat Pack. The author says he did a lot of research for the book, but sometimes the narrative reads more like a series of encyclopedia entries than fiction, and the character of Heller simply isn't charming or interesting enough to rate so much attention from high-rollers.
Nothing new or very interesting in this rehashing of rumors surrounding Monroe's death, even for those who were around when she died.
Posted August 20, 2011
In the summer of 1962, private eye Nathan Heller is in Hollywood enjoying his time with the famous and infamous. He meets Marilyn Monroe, who hires the Chicago sleuth to wire tap her phone. Her studio blames her erratic behavior for the shutting down of a film in production. She believes the tapes will prove otherwise.
Heller figures this is an easy assignment with fringe benefits. However, he finds a horde of celebrities interested in Miss Monroe; enough to fill the Hollywood Bowl. Beside the president and his brother, her former husband the retired ballplayer, Frank, the CIA, the Russians and Hoover; there are also mobsters. They all fear what she might do next. When she dies from a reported overdose, Heller believes his occasional lover-client was assassinated.
The first Heller hard boiled noir in years (see Chicago Confidential) is an exciting look at the demise of Marilyn Monroe. Although nothing new is added to the conspiracy theory behind the legend's death, the story line is fast-paced even with a real persona cast seemingly out of a Cecil B. DeMille movie as Heller works a case he personalizes.
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Posted April 1, 2014
Posted July 5, 2013
An Excellent Novel from a True Master of Hardboiled Detective Fiction
Bye Bye Baby is another great novel in the Nathan Heller series by Max Allan Collins. When we first met Nathan Heller in True Detective it was the early 1930s. Through the years he has worked a lot of famous cases. Now he is on the scene with the lovely, vivacious Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn is an old friend and calls Nathan to help her with a little job. She wants her phone bugged. She is having a lot of trouble with her studio, Fox, and she wants to protect herself. Heller’s favor for a friend turns into much more. This book reads like a Who’s Who from the period. Heller deals with Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner, John and Robert Kennedy, and many others.
One of Collins’ strengths is his ability to throw lots of celebrities into a book without stretching too much credulity. Of course Heller has to bed Marilyn and at least two other women. This should surprise no one who has read the Heller novels. Heller falls into the category of men who have slept with both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. If the book is to be believed then he shares that honor with the Kennedy boys.
Bye Bye Baby is a sympathetic look at Monroe. She is truly a tragic figure and her treatment at the hands of the movie studios and the Kennedy brothers was shameful. Collins tries, and succeeds, to navigate his way in this book between the pro and anti Kennedy camps. Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the real humanity of the characters. That is one of the trademarks of the Heller novels. The celebrities are not just here to catch our interest, they have a realness about them. So who killed Marilyn Monroe? Was it suicide, an accidental overdose, the Kennedys, or someone else. You will just have to get the book and find out.
Posted March 5, 2013
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Posted September 16, 2011
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