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Product Details

  • Series: Nathan Heller Novels (Book 12)
  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612180949
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612180946
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,655,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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.

Customer Reviews

The entire series is enjoyable.
Jim Rohrer
Max Allan Collins has created a wonderful series using Nathan Heller as his witty, hard-edged protagonist.
Dusko Popov
The story has more than enough historical characters and flavor, and the action is intelligent and fun.
David W. Nicholas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on July 31, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Max Allan Collins is probably one of the best mystery writers who's never really broken out from the pack, and wound up on bestseller lists regularly, like Sue Grafton or Robert B. Parker. He's sort of the king of the also-rans. It's not really a bad place to be, though. He's best known (perhaps) for writing novelizations of movies and TV shows (he did all the CSI books, and Saving Private Ryan, among others) and for writing Road to Perdition, which was made into the Paul Newman/Tom Hanks movie of a couple of years ago.

That being said, among mystery fans he's known for something else. He's been writing the Nathan Heller novels for maybe 20 years now (his son is actually named Nathan in real life) and they're clearly what he enjoys doing the most. The character is a hoot, bedding women right and left, shooting bad guys with considerable skill, and solving every mystery imaginable from the middle of the last century. There's the suspension-of-disbelief factor that I've mentioned before: it takes a bit of an imagination to believe in a character who's involved in all of these different crimes, and solves them all. Once you're over that, they're very entertaining and fun.

In the current installment, the year is 1950, and Heller's in LA hiding from the Kefauver commitee, which is exploring organized crime in America. The Mafia, of course, doesn't officially exist, courtesy of executive fiat from Director Hoover of the FBI. Heller knows better, of course, but he doesn't want to testify, because as he puts it, he knows where the bodies are buried, and in some cases helped bury them. So he's hiding in LA, but he has to return to Chicago to get one of his employees out of trouble, and that starts things going.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian Evankovich on July 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It took less than a week to read Chicago Confidential but I almost didn't finish it because the first half is real slow. I stayed with it to see who Heller met and all that, and when the action picked up in the middle, I was hooked.
The case Heller takes on may not be very well known but it's an important part of the Heller story and well worth your time. Collins, as always, has done a great job. --Brian
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Flipkid on August 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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 Dahlia" or the Lindbergh kidnapping, but most readers will be well aware of the McCarthy hearings and Kefauver hearings into organized crime (and this book provides a fascinating-- if theoretical-- inside look at both).
I do agree, though, that with a cameo appearance by Jack Ruby (and the fact that Frank Sinatra and mobster Sam "Mooney" Giancana are major characters in this book) it's only a matter of time until Max Allan Collins/Nate Heller tackle the JFK assassination (I can hardly wait!).
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Format: Paperback
Some years back, Collins decided to try something audacious even for a gifted writer. Collins created a fictional character (Detective Nathan Heller) and injected this fictional character into twentieth century history, including having Heller work on the Lindbergh kidnapping, work with Elliot Ness and the Untouchables, become involved with Chicago gangster Nitty, and volunteer, along with his buddy, Barney Ross, to fight in the Pacific Theater in World War II. In the hands of a lesser writer, the Nathan Heller books would have become a laughable comedy, but somehow Collins has managed to create a fictional man who interacts with real historical figures and it works. I have read five of this series and they have all been terrific books, capped off with the Nathan Heller trilogy involving Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Jack Ruby, and the Kennedy assassination: Ask Not, Bye Bye Baby, and Target Lancer.

Collins prefaces this book by explaining to the reader that, although the historical incidents in the book are more or less portrayed accurately, "fact, speculation, and fiction are freely mixed here" and "historical personages exist side by side with composite characters and wholly fictional ones -- all of whom act and speak at the author's whim." There, he said it. Its fact and fiction all mixed together.

In this particular book, the year is 1950. Heller starts off at his Hollywood office, hiding out from the Kefauver committee which is investigating anyone with connections to organized crime (and Heller, through Nitti, has been connected over the years to the Organization, although he has never been part of it) and making time with his daughter, who is with his exwife, who is now engaged to a Hollywood producer.

Heller has a new client, the refreshing Vera Palmer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JoeV VINE VOICE on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Chicago Confidential is the 12th full length adventure of Nate Heller, an ex-Chicago cop, WWII veteran, and now a very well connected hard-boiled Windy City PI - President of the A-1 Detective Agency. Although reminiscent of Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Heller is a little less jaded, has a much more active love life and is less hesitant to take the law into his own hands than his iconic predecessor.

Initially Nate worked within the environs of 1930's Chicago, but as the series has progressed so have Heller's horizons - both geographically and chronologically. Combining historical fact with fiction, the author places Nate "on the spot", rubbing elbows with well-known historical figures, as well investigating famous true crime cases - Amelia Earhart's disappearance, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the "Black Dahlia" murder - to name a few. And the frosting on the cake - Heller's investigations provide alternative solutions/explanations to these historical conundrums.

In this book, the year is 1950. Senator Estes Kefauver has taken to the road with his congressional inquiry into organized crime, hoping to convince the country and J. Edgar Hoover that the mafia is real - and also gain enough publicity for a run for the Oval Office. (Kefauver succeeded brilliantly in exposing organized crime, but only made it as far as Adalai Stevenson's VP running mate in his quest for the White House.) Because of his past and connections, Nate soon finds himself a "target" of the Kefauver hearings and somewhat between a rock and a hard place - in a difficult spot with both sides of the law, each side concerned as to what beans he may or may not spill.
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More About the Author

Max Allan Collins is a New York Times bestselling author of original mysteries, a Shamus award winner and an experienced author of movie adaptions and tie-in novels. His graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION was made into a major motion picture by Tom Hanks's production company, Playtone.

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