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The 1947 Black Dahlia case provides the basis for Shamus Award winner Collins's latest intriguing blend of fiction and real-life mystery featuring his well-connected Chicago P.I., Nathan Heller (Majic Man; Flying Blind). Newly married and in L.A. to publicize his partnership with a California-based P.I., Heller and a reporter are the first to discover the severed, mutilated body of Elizabeth Short. It just so happens Heller knew her they'd dated briefly in Chicago and she'd called just the night before, claiming she was pregnant. If made public, this connection would not only threaten Heller's marriage and business but make him a suspect. The authorities are treating this as a sex crime, but Heller thinks the mob is sending a message to informers. The case also recalls the grisly Kingsbury Run murders (which Collins explored in his 1988 Eliot Ness novel, Butcher's Dozen). In his quest to catch the killer, Heller brings in Ness and hobnobs with gangsters and movie stars, including Orson Welles, who hints at his own possible involvement. The characters, historical and fictional, come delightfully to life; the victim, too, turns out to be tragically complex, at once deceitful, nave and endearing. 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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Nathan Heller, founder and president of Chicago's A-1 Detective Agency, is in Los Angeles in 1947 to forge a partnership with Fred Bradbury, an ex-Chicago cop running a small detective business. Nate is also on a honeymoon with his new bride, Peggy, who has visions of Hollywood stardom. Heller is schmoozing with a Herald-Examiner reporter when the scribe picks up a possible homicide alert on his police-band radio. That's how Heller finds himself on the scene of what will become L.A.s' most famous officially unsolved murder: the Black Dahlia case. The victim is a beautiful young women who was tortured, raped, drained of fluids, cut in two, and dumped in a vacant lot. The victim is initially unknown to the cops, but not to Heller. She's Elizabeth Short, with whom Heller had a recent affair before marrying Peggy. A couple days earlier Short contacted Heller with news of her pregnancy--by him. If the cops knew, Heller would be their top suspect, so while he assists in the investigation, he also covers up his relationship with the victim. But Heller also has a theory about the crime: that it was not strictly a sex crime but a Mob-orchestrated execution staged to send a message. The Nate Heller historical crime novels consistently mesmerize with their carefully researched period detail--noir meets the History Channel--and their unique, alternative solutions to famous crimes. Collins' take on the Black Dahlia may be less brooding and less experimental than James Ellroy's version (The Blue Dahlia, 1987), but it's also more entertaining and will appeal to a wider audience of mainstream historical mystery fans. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a lack luster book. If you want to read a really great fictional story about the black dahlia case then read Ellroys The Black Dahlia. Collins should stick to Dick Tracy.Published on Sept. 23 2002
I have long been a fan of Max Collins' writing, and the Nathan Heller books in particular. Angel In Black is completely absorbing, and the period details are remarkable. Read morePublished on April 13 2001 by Daniel Konik