Collins, Max Allan 1948–

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Collins, Max Allan 1948–

(Peter Brackett, Max Collins, Max Allan Collins, Jr.)

PERSONAL: Born March 3, 1948, in Muscatine, IA; son of Max Allan, Sr. (an executive) and Patricia Ann Collins; married Barbara Jane Mull (a writer), June 1, 1968; children: Nathan Allan. Education: Mescaline Community College, A.A., 1968; University of Iowa, B.A., 1970, M.F.A., 1972. Politics: Independent.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—301 Fairview Ave., Mescaline, IA 52761. Agent—Dominick Abel Literary Agency, Inc., 146 West 82nd St., 1B, New York, NY 10024.

CAREER: Professional musician, 1966–72, 1976–79, 1986–; songwriter for Tree International, Nashville, TN, 1967–71; reporter for Muscatine Journal, 1968–70; writer, 1972–; Muscatine Community College, Muscatine, IA, instructor in English, journalism, and creative writing, 1971–77; instructor at Mississippi Valley Writers Conference 1973–; film producer/director/screenwriter, 1994–.

MEMBER: Mystery Writers of America (board of directors, 1980–), Private Eye Writers of America (board of directors, 1991–), Horror Writers of America (board of directors, 1997–), Iowa Motion Picture Association (board of directors, 1994–; president, 1998–2000), Iowa Screenwriters Alliance (board of directors, 1997–).

AWARDS, HONORS: Inkpot Award for outstanding achievement in comic arts, San Diego Comic Convention, 1982; Shamus Award for best hardcover novel, Private Eye Writers of America (PEWA), 1983, for True Detective, and 1991, for Stolen Away: A Novel of the Lindbergh Kidnapping; Edgar Allan Poe Special Award for critical/biographical work, Mystery Writers of America, 1984, for One Lonely Knight: Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer; distinguished alumnus award, Muscatine Community College, 1985; Susan Glaspell Award for fiction, Quad-City Times, Davenport, IA, 1990; Best Screenplay, Iowa Motion Picture Awards, 1996, for Mommy's Day; Best Unproduced Screenplay, Iowa Motion Picture Awards, 1996, for Blue Christmas; Best Unproduced Screenplay, Iowa Motion Picture Awards, 1997, for Spree; Best Entertainment Program, Iowa Motion Picture Awards, 1999, for Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane; Agatha Award nomination for nonfiction, 2002, for The History of Mystery; Shamus Award nomination for best hardcover novel, PEWA, 2002, for Angel in Black.

WRITINGS:

"NOLAN" SUSPENSE NOVEL SERIES

(Under name Max Collins) Bait Money, Curtis Books (New York, NY), 1973, revised edition, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under name Max Collins) Blood Money, Curtis Books (New York, NY), 1973, revised edition, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under name Max Collins) Fly Paper, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under name Max Collins) Hush Money, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under name Max Collins) Hard Cash, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1982.

(Under name Max Collins) Scratch Fever, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Spree, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Mourn the Living, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1999.

"QUARRY" SERIES

(Originally published under name Max Collins) The Broker, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1976, published as Quarry, Foul Play, 1985.

(Originally published under name Max Collins) The Broker's Wife, Berkley Publishing, 1976, published as as Quarry's List, Foul Play, 1985.

(Originally published under name Max Collins) The Dealer, Berkley Publishing, 1976, published as Quarry's Deal, Foul Play, 1986.

(Originally published under name Max Collins) The Slasher, Berkley Publishing, 1977, published as Quarry's Cut, Foul Play, 1986.

Primary Target, Foul Play, 1987.

Quarry's Greatest Hits, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2003.

"MALLORY" SERIES

(Under name Max Collins) The Baby Blue Rip-Off, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1983.

No Cure for Death, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1983.

Kill Your Darlings, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1984.

A Shroud for Aquarius, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1985.

Nice Weekend for a Murder, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1986.

"MEMOIRS OF NATHAN HELLER" HISTORICAL PRIVATE EYE SERIES

True Detective, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1983.

True Crime, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.

The Million-Dollar Wound, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Neon Mirage, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Stolen Away: A Novel of the Lindbergh Kidnapping, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.

Dying in the Postwar World (short stories), Countryman Press, 1991.

Carnal Hours, Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.

Blood and Thunder, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.

Damned in Paradise, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.

Flying Blind, Signet (New York, NY), 1999.

Majic Man, Dutton, 1999.

Kisses of Death, Crippen & Landru, 2001.

Angel in Black, New American Library (New York, NY), 2001.

Chicago Confidential, New American Library (New York, NY), 2002.

"ELIOT NESS" HISTORICAL NOVEL SERIES

The Dark City, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.

Butcher's Dozen, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.

Bullet Proof, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.

Murder by the Numbers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

NONFICTION

(With Ed Gorman) Jim Thompson: The Killers inside Him, Fedora Press (Cedar Rapids, IA), 1983.

(With James L. Traylor) One Lonely Knight: Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Popular Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1984.

(With John Javna) The Best of Crime and Detective TV: Perry Mason to Hill Street Blues, The Rockford Files to Murder She Wrote, Harmony (New York, NY), 1988.

COMIC-STRIP COLLECTIONS

(Under name Max Collins) Dick Tracy Meets Angeltop, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1980.

(Under name Max Collins) Dick Tracy Meets the Punks, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1980.

(Under name Max Collins) The Mike Mist Minute Misteries, Eclipse Enterprises, 1981.

(With Terry Beatty) The Files of Ms. Tree, Volume 1, Aardvark-Vanaheim (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada), 1984, Volume 2: The Cold Dish, Renegade Press, 1985.

(With Dick Locher) Dick Tracy: Tracy's Wartime Memories, Ken Pierce, 1986.

(With Terry Beatty) Ms. Tree, Paper Jacks, 1988.

(Editor, with Dick Locher) The Dick Tracy Casebook: Favorite Adventures, 1931–1990, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Dick Locher) Dick Tracy: The Secret Files, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Dick Locher) Dick Tracy's Fiendish Foes: A Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

SCREENPLAYS

The Expert, HBO, 1995.

Also author and director of Mommy, 1995, Mommy's Day, 1997, Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane 1999, and Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, 2000.

OTHER

(Coeditor) Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer: The Comic Strip, Ken Pierce (Park Forest, IL), Volume 1, 1982, Volume 2, 1985.

(Editor) Mickey Spillane, Tomorrow I Die, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1984.

Midnight Haul, Foul Play (Woodstock, VT), 1986.

Dick Tracy (novelization of film), Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.

Dick Tracy Goes to War, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.

Dick Tracy Meets His Match, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.

In the Line of Fire (novelization of film), Jove (New York, NY), 1993.

Maverick (novelization of film), Signet (New York, NY), 1994.

(Under pseudonym Peter Brackett) I Love Trouble (novelization of film), Signet (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Mickey Spillane) Murder Is My Business, Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.

Waterworld (novelization of film), Boulevard (New York, NY), 1995.

NYPD Blue: Blue Beginning, Signet (New York, NY), 1995.

Daylight (novelization of film), Boulevard (New York, NY), 1996.

The Mystery Scene Movie Guide: A Personal Filmography of Modern Crime Pictures, Brownstone Books (San Bernardino, CA), 1996.

Earl MacPherson: The Sketchbook Pin-Ups, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1997.

NYPD Blue: Blue Blood, Signet (New York, NY), 1997.

Mommy, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Air Force One (novelization of film), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.

Gil Elvgren: The Wartime Pin-Ups, Volume 1, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1997.

Pin-Up Poster Book: The Billy DeVorss Collection, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1997.

Road to Perdition (graphic novel), illustrated by Richard Piers Rayner, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 1998.

U.S. Marshals (novelization of film), Boulevard (New York, NY), 1998.

Mommy's Day, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Drake Elvgren) Elvgren: His Life and Art, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1998.

Saving Private Ryan (novelization of film), Signet (New York, NY), 1998.

Swimsuit Sweeties, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

Varga Girls I, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

Varga Girls II, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

Elvgren Girls I, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

Elvgren Girls II, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

Exotic Ladies, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 1999.

The Mummy (novelization of film), Boulevard (New York, NY), 1999.

The Titanic Murders, Berkley (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Barbara Collins) Regeneration, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1999.

For the Boys!: The Racy Pin-Ups of WWII, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2000.

(Editor and author of introduction) Barbara Collins, Too Many Tomcats and Other Feline Tales of Suspense, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2000.

U-571 (novelization of film), Avon (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Jeff Gelb) Flesh and Blood: Erotic Tales of Crime and Passion, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Indian Maidens, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2001.

Pirate & Gypsy Girls, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2001.

Pin-Up Nudes, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2001.

Seaside Sweethearts, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2001.

Blue Christmas and Other Holiday Homicides, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2001.

(With Barbara Collins) Murder—His and Hers (short stories), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2001.

The History of Mystery, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2001.

The Pearl Harbor Murders, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2001.

The Mummy Returns (novelization of film), Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor and author of introduction) Mickey Spillane Together We Kill: The Uncollected Stories of Mickey Spillane, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2001.

The Lusitania Murders, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor, with Mickey Spillane) A Century of Noir: Thirty-two Classic Crime Stories, New American Library (New York, NY), 2002.

The Scorpion King (novelization of film), Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Before the Dawn (based on television series), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.

I Spy (novelization of screenplay), HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2002.

Patriotic Pin-Ups, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2002.

Pin-Up Nudes II, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2002.

Cowgirl Pin-Ups, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2002.

Playful Pin-Ups, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2002.

Sin City, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Calendar Girl: Sweet & Sexy Pin-Ups of the Postwar Era, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2003.

(Editor, with Jeff Gelb) Flesh and Blood: Guilty as sin: Erotic Tales of Crime and Passion, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2003.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, IDW Publications (San Diego, CA), 2003.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Body of Evidence, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2003.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Cold Burn, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Skin Game, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Batman: Child of Dreams (English adaptation), DC Comics, 2003.

On the Road to Perdition: Oasis, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 2003.

On the Road to Perdition: Sanctuary, Paradox Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Florida Getaway, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2003.

(With wife, Barbara Collins) Bombshell, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.

The London Blitz Murders, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.

Road to Purgatory, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Kathy Reichs) Bones: Buried Deep, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY) 2006.

Author, under name Max Collins, of comic strip "Dick Tracy," distributed by Chicago Tribune/New York News Syndicate, 1977–93; writer of "The Comics Page," 1979–80, and of monthly Ms. Tree comic book. Contributor of scripts to Batman and DC comic books; cocreator, with Beatty, of Wild Dog comic-book feature; cocreator and writer of Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger comic book. Movie columnist for Mystery Scene. Contributor of short stories to numerous anthologies. Contributor of articles to magazines, including Armchair Detective, Comics Feature, and Mystery Scene.

Collins's manuscripts are collected at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.

ADAPTATIONS: Road to Perdition was directed by Sam Mendes, starred Tom Hanks, Jude Law, and Paul Newman, and was released by Twentieth-Century Fox and Dreamworks, 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Max Allan Collins is a prolific novelist and freelance writer who has won widespread praise for his original detective fiction, yet among his best-known work is undoubtedly the "Dick Tracy" comic strip, which he wrote from 1977 to 1993. Also, Collins is the author for the "Nathan Heller" history-based mystery novels and has also penned a number of television and movie novelizations, among them book versions of popular films such as U-571, The Scorpion King, Saving Private Ryan, and The Mummy Returns.

"Dick Tracy," created by Chester Gould in 1931, was the first comic intended not to be humorous. The title character, a hard-boiled, two-fisted detective, quickly became a nationwide favorite. Collins and artist Richard Fletcher took over the series after Gould's retirement in 1977; when Fletcher died in 1983, Collins continued with artist Dick Locher. The two have edited several collections of the "Dick Tracy" strip, and Collins has also written three novels featuring the detective—one a novelization of the film Dick Tracy, and two sequels to it. Many reviewers agree that although the "Dick Tracy" novels are minor compared to Collins's other work, they are still worthwhile reading. "I consider my work in comics to play a supporting role in my career;… still, it often tends to take center-stage, since Dick Tracy is obviously more famous than anyone who merely writes it," Jon L. Breen quoted Collins as saying in St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers.

"For many years now I've been in love with the private-eye novel: the lean prose, the sharp dialogue, the understated poetry at least as found in the works of those three proponents of the form, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane," Breen further quoted Collins. "But when I began writing my own suspense novels in the early 1970s I found myself uncom-fortable with the private eye: my heroes tended to be antiheroes, perhaps reflecting the troubled times around me as I worked." Collins's first protagonist was Nolan, an aging thief who frequently becomes involved in detective work. His next creation was Quarry, a Vietnam veteran who now works as a hired killer. Breen named Quarry as "possibly the first detective in fiction to commit the murder before trying to solve it. He is among the least admirable characters (I think intentionally so) to be the protagonist of a series of crime novels. That he is acceptable in that role … is a tribute to Col-lins's talent." Quarry's Greatest Hits is an anthology of three "Quarry" short stories and one novel. Wes Lukowsky wrote in a Booklist review of the 2003 work that "The three stories included here reflect Collins' sardonic humor and his extraordinary ability to take his plots on an unexpected detour or two."

In the "Mallory" series, Collins introduced a young, small-town mystery writer who delivers meals to shut-ins and also solves mysterious crimes. Unlike Quarry and Nolan, Mallory is firmly on the right side of the law. Breen noted that "the 'Mallory' novels are softer edged, appropriate to a more conservative hardcover market, but in certain stretches the author's hard-boiled roots are apparent. Most notable about the Mallory books is their understanding depiction of the Vietnam generation and their sense of nostalgia for the recent past." Breen singled out A Shroud for Aquarius as the best of the Mallory novels, one that provides "a poignant look back at the 1960s."

One of Collins's historical series relates the fictional adventures of real-life gangbuster Eliot Ness during his days as a public safety officer in Cleveland. His most highly praised series, however, is probably the one featuring Nate Heller, described by Peter Robertson in Booklist as a 1930s "smart-mouthed, semihonest, gam-chasing" Chicago cop turned private investigator. In Breen's estimation, the "Nate Heller" series represents Collins's "major contribution to date." Over the course of several books, Heller becomes involved with notable, real-life historical figures including Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and Charles Lindbergh. "It's easier to bring a wholly fictitious creation to life in a novel than to animate real-life guest stars, but Collins does the job amazingly well," affirmed Breen. Collins has also been praised for the careful research that goes into his historical fiction. In Breen's opinion, "Collins achieves something else that many bestselling blockbuster writers do not: getting full measure from his thorough research without ever sounding like a history term paper."

The Heller novels often propose alternative solutions to mysterious crimes of the past. In Stolen Away: A Novel of the Lindbergh Kidnapping, Heller discovers the Lindbergh baby living in the Midwest, years after the world-famous early-twentieth-century abduction of the child of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindberg. A Publishers Weekly writer enthused: "Collins's … reconstruction of the Lindbergh case is so believable, one forgets that this is fiction," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor thought that Stolen Away is "a meaty, satisfying rehash of the crime of the century—required reading for people who still wonder." A collection of short stories about Heller, Dying in the Postwar World, was dismissed as "drab" by a Publishers Weekly contributor, and a contributor to Kirkus Reviews rated the collection "uneven." A Booklist writer judged the book very differently, however, saying that at least five of the stories are "gems: period yarns set in the postwar thirties and crisp with melodramatic cop slang and hard-nosed Chinatown urban detailing."

In Blood and Thunder, Heller is hired as a bodyguard to protect high-profile Louisiana senator Huey Long. "Collins's sense of place and time is unerringly acute, and he happily indulges in re-creating Long's fiery stump style," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Wes Lukowsky rated Blood and Thunder a "highly recommended" title in Booklist, and a Kirkus Reviews speaker declared that publication of Blood and Thunder could be Collins's "finest hour."

Majic Man revolves around the alleged UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. The novel was lauded by critics. Wes Lukowsky in Booklist called the book a "typically intelligent, witty, and exciting examination of a real-life mystery." A Publishers Weekly critic concluded: "There's magic of a literary kind here: full-bore suspense coupled with an ingenious take on an overworked pop-historical touchstone."

In Chicago Confidential, set in the 1950s, Heller returns to the streets of Chicago, trying to dodge federal investigators examining the city's underworld—until a friend is killed. Library Journal's Michael Rogers noted of the novel: "When it comes to noirish, hard-boiled PI thrillers, few writers can compete with Collins: the sex is hot and the killings cold. What else could you ask for?"

In the late 1990s, Collectors Press, a specialized publisher showcasing commercial art, issued a number of Collins' books on pin-up artists, including Billy DeVorss, Earl MacPherson, Gil Elvgren, and Alberto Vargas. "Elvgren, MacPherson, and Vargas are hardcore pinup artists, although pinup hard-core is perky, pert, clean as a whistle—in short, wholesomely sexy," com-mented Ray Olson in Booklist. Olson called Collins' text "apt and informative," and praised the quality reproductions. Mike Tribby lauded Elvgren: His Life and Art in a Booklist review: "This glowing volume offers an authoritative biography of Elvgren, analysis of his career, and lush reproduction of his work."

Breen concluded his assessment of Collins, calling the author "solidly entrenched in the hard and tough school of crime fiction. His protagonists have often been professional criminals. But his sense of humor and underlying humanity, coupled with a gift for intricate plotting and cinematically effective action scenes, make his novels palatable even to readers who normally would eschew the very hard-boiled."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS

Armchair Detective, July, 1978, pp. 300-304; winter, 1996, p. 109.

Booklist, July, 1990, p. 2075; March 15, 1991, p. 1435; October 15, 1991, p. 412; March 1, 1994, p. 1183; August, 1995, p. 1931; September 15, 1996; January 1, 1998, p. 761; August, 1998, p. 1974; September 15, 1998, p. 183; September 1, 1999, p. 71; May 1, 2003, p. 1538; October 15, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of Quarry's Greatest Hits, p. 393; May 1, 2004, review of Bombshell, p. 1503.

Chicago Tribune, November 2, 1990, section 3, p. 2; June 10, 1991, section 5, p. 3; December 13, 1991, section 5, p. 3.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1991, p. 343; September 1, 1991, p. 1118; February 1, 1994, p. 97; July 1, 1995, p. 898; February 15, 2003, review of Flesh and Blood: Guilty as Sin: Erotic Tales of Crime and Passion, p. 272.

Library Journal, April 1, 1994, p. 137; April 1, 1997, p. 144; September 1, 1999, p. 237; April 1, 2004, review of Bombshell, p. 128.

New York Times Book Review, April 17, 1994, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, April 5, 1991, p. 139; September 13, 1991, p. 66; February 14, 1994, p. 81; June 26, 1995, p. 93; August 23, 1999, p. 51; April 1, 2002, review of Flesh and Blood: Dark Desires, p. 56; March 17, 2003, review of Flesh and Blood: Guilty as Sin, p. 58; September 22, 2003, review of C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation: Serial, p. 86; February 16, 2004, review of On the Road to Perdition: Sanctuary, p. 154.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1990, p. 215; October, 1991, p. 223.

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Collins, Max Allan 1948–

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