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Chicago Confidential [Mass Market Paperback]

Max Collins
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 6 2003 Mysteries & Horror
From the New York Times bestselling author of Road to Perdition

Now in paperback...P.I. Nathan Heller takes on the Chicago mob-and carries on with bombshell Jayne Mansfield-in this brilliant historical mystery from the Shamus award-winner.

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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done entertainment July 26 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Chicago Confidential" is the twelfth Nathan Heller novel from Max Allan Collins.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Continues a great tradition July 9 2002
Over the years, as writer Max Allan Collins has gotten older, his signature character Nate Heller has gotten mellower. And I think I like it. When I was a young firebrand, Nate Heller (in the early novels) was a smart-mouth roughneck. As my tastes matured, Heller mellowed out and got involved in fewer shoot-outs and savage beatings. I like the evolution of Heller; from poormouth private eye (in the 30s) to minor celebrity private eye to the stars (in the late 40s). Chicago Confidential (the title comes from a period muck-raking book of the same name; it is not a rip-off of James Ellroy's LA Confidential) isn't about any particular crime like the other Heller novels. Instead, it is a novel about a particular era; the 1950s gangland witch-hunt by a crusading senator. A good, brooding story from a master of hard-boiled fiction. My only complaint is that the Joe McCarthy angle wasn't explored as deeply as I wanted. I was sort of looking forward to Heller being paranoid and concerned about the malevolent government establishment, like in Majic Man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine novel--and great character June 30 2002
Detective Nathan Heller knows better than to get involved in the Kefauver hearings on organized crime. He knows plenty--but the only way to stay alive is to keep what he knows under his hat. He tries to tell his friend Bill Drury the same thing, but Bill is intent on taking the Chicago Mafia down. When Drury gets killed in a Mafia hit, Heller knows he has to get involved--but how can he manage that without ending up as dead as Drury?
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.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A big waste of trees May 12 2003
Anyone reading this effort is going to be convinced of one thing.
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.
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