Chicago Confidential Mass Market Paperback – May 6 2003
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Nobody does historical hard-boiled detective fiction better than Max Allan Collins. He proves this once again in Chicago Confidential, a randy, rollicking read that finds series PI Nathan Heller squeezed dangerously between ambitious politicians and remorseless gangsters. The year is 1950, and America's first congressional inquiry into organized crime, led by presidential-hopeful U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, has swept into the Windy City on a tsunami of press coverage. Heller hopes to lie low until this subpoena-waving circus has passed. "While not a mob guy myself," he confides, "I had... certain underworld associations, and hence did know where a good share of the bodies were buried. Hell, I'd buried some of them." But, instead, he's catapulted into the investigative limelight, first by one of his employees--ex-cop Bill Drury, who agrees to cooperate with Kefauver's crusade--and then by his association with Jackie Payne, the abused, drug-addicted girlfriend of a powerful mobster. After hit men target Drury, and Jackie is abducted, Heller finds a way to get revenge and justice at the same time.
As in previous Heller outings, Chicago Confidential smoothly blends well-researched fact with fiction. The gumshoe pals around with crooner Frank Sinatra, falls (fast) to the seductive wiles of future starlet Jayne Mansfield, and is threatened by commie-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy. If Confidential is less darkly intense than Stolen Away or Angel in Black, two previous entries in this series, its quicksilver dialogue and truly menacing action sequences still make it one gangbuster of a book. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"I had done jobs for Nitti, and Nitti had done me favors, like not having me whacked," PI Nate Heller recalls in the latest entertaining installment of his "memoirs," which takes him back to his old stomping grounds in Chicago. It's 1950, the moment in American history when the Mafia becomes a household name, and Senator estes Kefauver is investigating organized crime. The PI walks the thin line between keeping his underworld sources confidential and holding the Feds at bay, but when a crusading ex-cop who once saved his life is murdered, Heller knows revenge is in order. Fourteen novels ago the prolific Collins (who has also scripted the Batman comic and novelized Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan) introduced Heller in True Detective (1983), set in the Chitown of Capone and Nitti. More recently Heller has wandered the country, investigating now-famous crimes such as the Black Dahlia and the assassination of Huey Long, always set in a factual here-and-now crossbred with the jazzy pulp stylings of such paperback original writers as Mickey Spillane. A famous starlet-to-be has a cameo role ("her elaborately brassiered breasts punched at the light fabric like shells almost breaching a submarine's hull"). While the crime elements are strictly pro forma for the hard-boiled genre, Collins excels in the dialogue with the Made Guys, and every time Frank Sinatra (whose career Heller figures is finished) appears, the pages sing. Light and fast-paced, this is criminal history made easy and fun.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a deft blending of true crime and mystery fiction---an astonishing mix of fact and fiction. His theories and conclusions are most convincing
It is not a whodunit---rather it is about a famous time in crime. It is 1950 in Chicago as the initial congressional inquiry into organized crime is starting up.
Heller runs the A-1 Detective Agency and is not mobbed up, but still has no desire to testify before Kefauver's committee.
Heller's ability to work with the underworld figures as well as the law is what makes his agency successful.
Ambitious politicos, rancorous gangsters and a couple of honest cops are the central figures Heller must deal with.
Snappy dialog, menacing action sequences and scrupulous historical research make this hard-boiled thriller a treat.
Among the real characters interacting with the concocted ones: Jayne Mansfield, Frank Sinatra, Drew Pearson, Sam Giancana, Senator Joe McCarthy.
Author Max Allan Collins delivers a convincing account of Chicago during the 1950s. The American Mafia has begun its climb toward respectability, helped by the FBI's assurances that there is no organized crime in America. Chicago is controlled by a combination of its political machine and the mob, with dirty police more common than not.
Collins makes Heller acquainted with both major mob figures and with popular icons such as Frank Sinatra and Jayne Mansfield, giving the reader occasional brushes with the famous. What makes CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL powerful, however, is Heller's emotional strength as he battles between doing what is safe and what is right--in a Chicago-pragmatic way.
CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL is an enjoyable novel and Nathan Heller a convincing and sympathetic 'tough guy' hero.
Man, if that guy can get published, then there is hope for anyone.
There appears to be no reason for the book except that the author had done some research on famous people of the 50s and didn't know what to do with it.
My guess: Collins was setting around drinking and wondering how to pay his bills when it dawned on him, "hey, why don't I use the names of these famous people and connect them in some way and see if I can sell it to someone as a novel?"
Those appearing include, Frank Sinatra, Jayne Mansfield, Sam Giancanna, Tony Accardo, Drew Pearson, Estes Kefaufer, and Joe McCarthy. Notice anything they have in common?
All of them are dead, which means they can't object to being in such a dismal novel.
Most recent customer reviews
Sorry, Steve 731, I respectfully disagree. I think this is one of the BEST Nate Heller books. The "crime" itself may not be as sensational as "The Black... Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2002 by Flipkid
It took less than a week to read Chicago Confidential but I almost didn't finish it because the first half is real slow. Read morePublished on July 27 2002 by Brian Evankovich