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Max Allan Collins is here with another collection Nathan Heller tales, to long for short stories, to short for novels(Mr. Collins even makes note in the introduction of his confusion over the difference between novellas and novelettes, an understanding I thought I was the only one who had).

Three novella/novelettes of cases that weren’t quite complex enough to be worthy of a novel and a bit much for a short story.

DYING IN THE POST-WAR WORLD puts Heller back in the PI business after a stint in WWII, a wife pregnant and feeling unworthy, and smack in the middle of the “Lipstick Killer” case. Collins and his researcher, George Hagenaeur, do the scut work in bringing the fictional Heller into a real world case, though he notes that some historical elements have been altered slightly in the interests of storytelling.

KISSES OF DEATH finds our hero meeting and taking a job guarding a young Marilyn Monroe and eventually to looking into the murder of novelist/poet Maxwell Bodenheim, a man he barely remembered stopping into his father’s bookshop when he was a child.

STRIKE ZONE has a baseball theme of sorts as Heller investigates the death of Eddie Gaedel, the “little person” Bill Veeck hired to pinch hit as a publicity stunt. 3’8,” he walked on four pitches and was replaced with a runner, his sole appearance in a major league game.

The fun for me in the Hellers, whether novel, short story, or otherwise, is doing a bit of looking around myself at these true cases. Collins, as usual, has a section in the back of the book where he discusses books researched for the stories. I’ve managed over the years to run across a few.

Enjoyed this one. Collins’ prose is always easy to get into, one falling in and not usually coming up for air until done.

Recommended. Ordering information here.