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A Killing in Comics (A Jack Starr Mystery) Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: A Jack Starr Mystery (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042521365X
  • ASIN: B001G8WRII
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,995,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans who admire Collins's superb Nate Heller series for its ingenious, innovative and well-researched solutions to historical mysteries like the Black Dahlia murder (Angel in Black) and Amelia Earhart's disappearance (Flying Blind) will find this bland, broadly sketched whodunit several notches below the author's best work. The action takes place in 1948 Manhattan, where Donny Harrison, publisher of Americana Comics, gets impaled on a huge cake knife at his 50th birthday party, and Jack Starr, troubleshooter for a newspaper syndicate, investigates the many who wished Harrison dead. The premise—setting a murder mystery among the legends who created the first iconic comic book heroes, represented here as Wonder Guy and Batwing (thinly disguised versions of Superman and Batman)—is promising, but instead of a thoughtful and insightful exploration of that idea, Collins settles for near parody. Terry Beatty (Batman) contributes tongue-in-cheek, retro comic art throughout. (May)
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About the Author

Max Allan Collins lives in Muscatine, Iowa, with his wife, writer Barbara Collins.

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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
The Shamus award winning author has scored again big time with "A Killing in the Comics."
Laurence J. Coven
Reading it before or after Collins's book is recommended for deeper enjoyment of everything that was going on at this time.
Mel Odom
A perfect read for comic book fans, "A Killing in Comics" will also be good fun for those who just enjoy a good mystery.
Joseph P. Menta, Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on November 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Max Allan Collins's A KILLING IN COMICS is both well-researched and a labor of love that's masquerading as a mystery novel. Set in 1948, back in the days when the military was returning from World War II and the usual fiction heroes in comics and the pulps were transitioning to harder-edged fare, the novel is a fun, sort of hardboiled romp.

To an accomplished comics fan, and I admit to my geek factor and claim that title, Collins's portrayal of the industry tensions going on at the time was dead on. Wonder Man is really Superman, and the problems Siegel and Schuster had over trying to claim the rights to their greatest creation is true, and sad. But, as Collins points out, that was the way business operated in those days.

Batwing is, of course, Batman. And that tale offers up yet another depressing tale of a partnership where one partner took advantage of another. Amazonia is Wonder Woman.

I have to admit to distraction during the novel, so I wasn't completely focused on keeping up with the clues. Most of the time I was relating my comics knowledge to the story and how Collins wove in the many details. Richard Lupoff and Don Thompson's ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME is an excellent resource to go along with this novel. Reading it before or after Collins's book is recommended for deeper enjoyment of everything that was going on at this time.

In the opening chapter of the novel, Donny Harrison, the publisher of Americana Comics, ends up dead at his own fiftieth birthday party while dressed in a colorful Wonder Man outfit. There are suspects aplenty. The two guys who invented Wonder Man are on hand and pretty upset about getting their own invention yanked away from them.
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Format: Paperback
A Killing in Comics is an eminently readable mystery novel by Max Allan Collins. The action takes place in the world of comics circa 1948. The book is written in the style of the hard-boiled detective story. The protagonist is Jack Starr, who is a vice-president of Starr Syndication, and as a licensed private investigator, he is responsible for looking after the interests of Starr Syndication and its writers.

When Donny Harrison, the publisher behind the "Wonder Guy" comic, dies at his own birthday party, Jack is asked by his boss and stepmother to investigate. Wonder Guy is one of their best comics, and the creators were at the party, and thus suspects. As Jack investigates, he finds that not everything about the comic industry is fun and games. There is no shortage of suspects, ranging from Donny's mistress to a crime boss to the creators of the comic strips, all with plenty of motive to murder Donny Harrison.

The panels at the beginning of each chapter drawn by Terry Beatty are in a 1948 style, adding another element of style to the book

Max Collins writes the mystery in the classic Ellery Queen style. He even has a summary in comic strip form, thanks to Terry Beatty. All the information to solve the case is available to the reader. The question is whether the reader has picked up on all the important clues.

A Killing in Comics was an enjoyable read, without unnecessary gore or violence, and it has a terrific cast of characters. I had fun comparing his fictional comic book characters to the real-life characters that were the staple of the day.

The author's treatment of the comics and his characters rings true to life, he plays by the rules of the classic mystery, and has a lot of fun while he does so.

Armchair Interviews says: Crime in classic Ellery Queen style. Collins is a CSI author and Road to Perdition creator with lots of books to his name (and his pen name).
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Format: Paperback
Harry Spiegel was the writer with a dream and he shared that with Moe Shulman; together they created a hit comic series Wonder Guy and sold it to Donny of American Comics. However they were two innocents who signed away all rights including fees for merchandise based on the comic.. Their contract is coming up and they might not sign up with American Comics. Stark Syndication, the outlet that distributes their work to newspapers across the country would be fairer to them.

They have an idea for a comic book and they want to sell that to Stark Syndication. At Donny's birthday party, he keels over and dies. A toxicology report reveals he was poisoned and Jack Stark, V.P. and troubleshooter for Stark syndication starts an investigation rights. His interest is purely financial as he doesn't want a long protracted investigation involving three players in their stable. By finding the killer, (he is a licensed P.I.) the company will know what business decisions to make but he soon realizes he has his work cut out for him. Donny was a man who many people had a motive to want him dead.

A KILLING IN COMICS takes place in 1948 Manhattan and has a nourish gothic feel to it as well using some comic book Golden Age history . It is a trip down memory lane when people believe that comics are destroying the minds of children who read them. The well executed plot and the Phillips Marlow type protagonist makes this an excellent historical mystery. The illustrations by Terry Beatty are fantastic and visualize key plot points.

Harriet Klausner
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