"Now it was the next morning and the gas was in the plane. The tall, slender woman I'd lusted after the night before was standing next to me on the tarmac, near her ship, buckling a tan helmet under her chin, flashing me that gap-toothed grin she hid from photographers...." The woman, of course, is Amelia Earhart, and the man describing her is Nate Heller, ex-Chicago cop and private detective to the rich and famous. One of the most original characters in the historical mystery area, Max Allan Collins's Heller has jousted with Al Capone, helped out Clarence Darrow, and probed the killing of Huey Long--taking all his cases very personally. But a bad experience with a sadistic Charles Lindbergh has left him leery of flying, and it will take all of Earhart's charm to get him into a plane from St. Louis to Albuquerque, and then to Los Angeles. It's 1935, and Heller has been hired by Amelia's husband (the conniving publisher G.P. Putnam) to both guard her body and search out possible lovers on a book tour. A warm relationship grows up between the flyer and the detective, and when Earhart disappears a few years later, an overage Heller enlists in the Marines to search for her on the island of Saipan. The story is framed by scenes of a retired Nate in 1970 being persuaded to revisit Saipan by a persistent Earhart researcher, and the conclusions that Collins offers about her fate are as convincing as they are moving and exciting. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Blending solid research with reasoned speculation and adding fictional enhancements has proven to be a highly successful formula for eight Nate Heller mysteries, which have explored fascinating events like the Lindbergh kidnapping (Stolen Away, 1991) and the assassination of Huey Long (Blood and Thunder, 1995). In 1970, Chicago-based PI Heller is enjoying semi-retirement in Florida when he's approached by a wealthy Texan interested in making yet another attempt to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. This narrative reveals the truth about the disappearance of the world's most famous aviatrix as only Heller knows it, having been hired in 1935 by Earhart's husband, G.P. Putnam, to provide security for one of Earhart's triumphant appearances (this one at Marshall Field's to launch a new line of clothing she had designed). Heller, who became friends with Earhart, agrees to help the curious Texan, and the result is an entertaining and provocative look at Earhart's career and personal life and the "true" story of her ill-fated round-the-world flight in 1937. As usual, Collins provides a final chapter that provides a useful bibliography of source materials and other credits.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.