Since his introduction in 1983’s True Detective, Chicago-based private eye Nathan Heller has handily earned his spot alongside American crime-fiction greats Phillip Marlowe, Archie Goodwin, and Mike Hammer. Now the classic gumshoe is back in this collection of three novellas, all based on real cases of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s.
In Dying in the Post-War World, Heller returns from combat to find his marriage a shambles and himself square in the middle of the notorious Lipstick Killer case of 1946.
Kisses of Death follows the PI into the 1950s, when he is hired to guard Marilyn Monroe. The famous starlet’s intellectual pursuits eventually take Heller to Greenwich Village and a grisly murder.
And in Strike Zone, Heller is hired by zany baseball manager Bill Veeck to investigate the 1961 murder of a famous pinch hitter, whose private life will suck Nate into a dangerous new world of little people and big sins.
With Triple Play, New York Times-bestselling author Max Allan Collins has pried back the lid of history to reveal the ugly, entertaining truth behind three of the twentieth century’s most shocking crimes.
About the Author
Max Allan Collins is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller historical thrillers; his other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the bestselling CSI series. His comics writing ranges from the graphic novel Road to Perdition, source of the Tom Hanks film, to long runs as scripter of the “Dick Tracy” comic strip and his own innovative “Ms. Tree.” Collins is also a screenwriter and a leading Indie filmmaker. He lives in Iowa with his wife, writer Barbara Collins, and their son, Nathan.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Max Allan Collins has given us a number of Nathan Heller novels. In this book he collects three novellas from the world of Nathan Heller. There is a grand tradition of these stories that are longer than short stories and shorter than novels. Once it was common to feature these in short story magazines. Authors (or publishers) would often collect three of these novellas and publish them in a single volume. Collins points out that this was a standard practice for Rex Stout. As short story periodicals have disappeared so have the novellas. Collins says that he prefers writing novels to short stories. You wouldn’t know that from reading these stores. Of course they are not as in depth as a full novel, that would not be possible given the size of the story. For these stories Collins choose cases that were not as large in scope and so they allow for a shorter story. “Dying in the Post War World” covers the Lipstick Killer case. In this story Heller helps to track down a serial killer whose brutality leaves him ready to take matters into his own hands. In “Kisses of Death” Heller gets his first opportunity to work for Marilyn Monroe. While working for Ms. Monroe he is reacquainted with some members of the Chicago literary scene, mainly the obnoxious poet and author Maxwell Bodenheim. His look at this leading jazz age figure is less than flattering, but oh so wonderfully written. Finally in “Strike Zone” Heller goes to work for Bill Veek. Veeck was a well known character in the world of baseball. He loved to pull stunts to entertain the crowd. One of his best known stunts was to draft a midget as a pinch hitter. Eddie Gaedel will always be remembered as the shortest man who ever played professional baseball, even though he was later disqualified. Heller investigates the death of Gaedel after the man’s mother claims that he was murdered. There was a line in this story that had me laughing until I hurt. All three of these novellas are well written and wonderful to read. I enjoyed each of them and can recommend this to any lover of great hardboiled detective stories.
I'll say it again--not a fan of mysteries, and not of fan of this genre, but I love a good story with solid characters and every ONE of Max Allan Collins' books deliver. This installment has three more Nathan Heller stories. They are too long to be short stories, but not long enough for their own covers. They are not sequential, giving us a different glimpse of Nathan Heller each time. My favorite is the last one, STRIKE ZONE. It's about a little person (book uses "midget") who at one point played professional baseball as a gimmick. Less funny is that he ended up dead, but it's still a well written and entertaining story. The great thing about the main character is that he has ethics, but they are not really in alignment with the law. For him, it's not always about the law as much as it is about justice, and because the stories are all told first person there is some great commentary on the law and society. PI fans, mystery fans, or just fans of well written stories will enjoy this for sure.
Max Allen Collins is a master story-teller and immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the story and meticulously limned characters. Triple Play is worth the read and a good introduction to Nate Heller.