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The Million-Dollar Wound (Nathan Heller Novels) [Kindle Edition]

Max Allan Collins
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Chicago P.I. Nate Heller returns home from duty in Guadalcanal a decorated, damaged, and dangerous hero—and drops directly from one war into another: the gangland coup to topple Frank Nitti as he tries to strong-arm the Hollywood unions.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Collins has wrapped up his "Frank Nitti trilogy" in fine style: new readers will be tempted to go back to True Detective and True Crime. Private-eye narrator Nate Heller is hired by Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler and movie star Robert Montgomery to get the goods on Willy Bioff, crooked head of the movie technicians' union. Set mainly in Chicago from 1939 to 1943, with several stints in Hollywood and Guadalcanal, the book is rich in local color, period flavor and action. It is also populated with actual characters, including Eliot Ness and boxer Barney Ross. Brooding over these assorted personalities is Frank Nitti, Capone's successor as head of the Chicago mob, who has an odd, almost-friendly relationship with Heller. Collins, writer of Dick Tracy, shows his comic-strip background, but the slam-bang action is nicely fleshed out with believable characterizations. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

In 1942, Chicago P.I. Nate Heller and his childhood pal, boxer Barney Ross, join the Marines and see bloody action together at Guadalcanal. Upon his return to gangland Chicago, the shell-shocked Heller—more dangerous than ever—is thrust into the midst of an inter-gang war to depose Capone’s successor Frank Nitti, whose minions are infiltrating Hollywood movie unions. In this crushing finale to rough-and-tumble Nate Heller’s Frank Nitti trilogy, Max Allan Collins delves into the damaged psyche of war veterans as a full-on gangland war threatens to explode. As tempers in Hollywood flare-up, Heller attempts to solve a murder committed behind enemy lines, and deal with the drug addiction of his friend Barney. But not even the company of fan dancer Sally Rand can ease Heller’s conscience as he is haunted by the events at Guadalcanal even as he’s surrounded by the murder and mayhem of Nitti’s final, violent days.

“A serious social chronicle of Chicago’s turbulent history as the ‘30s and ‘40s gangland capital of America. It’s also serious fun…a terrific sense of vitality.”—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 1094 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (September 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054LXX1S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,832 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On my Top 10 August 27, 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the jewels in Collins' long-running series THE MEMOIRS OF NATHAN HELLER. It's distinguished by the titular private eye's combat trauma in the U.S. Marines during the bloody 1942 battle for Guadalcanal. Invalided home on a section 8 discharge for mental illness, Heller struggles to recover his own identity at the same time he unravels a series of interlocking mysteries in Hollywood and Chicago. Historical highlights include the mob-related murder of Edward O'Hare, father of the Navy hero for whom Chicago's airport is named, and one of Collins' certified revisionist theories about Outfit godfather Frank Nitti, the man who succeeded Capone. The book features a smashing balance of action, historical research, and psychological insight, transcending the private eye genre. It's on my all-time Top 10 list of historical novels, and I'm overjoyed it's back in print. See also NEON MIRAGE and STOLEN AWAY.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The series continues wonderfully.... December 8, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Max Allan Collins sends his historical detective Nathan Heller off to war in The Million-Dollar Wound, the third in the series after True Crime. A little male pride, some misplaced patriotism, and a few drinks too many land Heller, too old for the draft, in the Marine enlistment office in 1942, right alongside best friend and ex-boxer Barney Ross. Far too soon after, they find themselved smack dab in the middle of Guadalcanal Island, surrounded by "Japs" and fighting death in both its projectile and contagious forms.

As especially bad case of malaria finds an amnesiac Heller back in the States with a fuzzy memory but a thriving investigation practice, and a request to testify against Frank Nitti, now in control of the territory left vacant by Al Capone's prison sentence. The story quickly flashes back to 1939. Those used to the linear narratives of the first two novels in the series (True Detective and True Crime), and their relative chronological proximity to each other, may be thrown by The Million-Dollar Wound, which takes place nine, then six, then ten years after the events in True Crime.

The Million-Dollar Wound was Max Allan Collins' most complex novel, both emotionally and narratively, up to that point. The weight of the combat experience weighs heavily on Heller's mind throughout the remainder of the novel, especially the bad dreams he has involving a fellow Marine's death by "friendly fire." Did Heller fire the fatal shot? He can't remember. This lends a gravity to this third entry that only enhances the reading, offering a deeper sense of character through Heller's reaction to the truth. I understand that the war effects Heller throughout the series, but only time will tell. (Note: The title refers to a war wound that gets a soldier sent home, but doesn't kill him.)
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent detective novel April 16, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The last in Collin's Nitti Trilogy is better than it's predecessor (True Crime), but not as strong as the first in the series (True Detective). Still, a fine novel and a fitting end to the cycle as Nate Heller's relationship with the famed gangster comes to an end.
The next in the series, The Neon Mirage, begins a new stage in the charater's existence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of Frank Nitti trilogy January 26, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am only part-way through this book, yet it has AGAIN captured me. The author, plus his usual characters, have returned from WWll and little has changed but the venue. Whereas the first two books took place mostly in Chicago, this final book ends in Hollywood,where the old union organizer emerges, from his dad. Each book has humorous moments, plus lots of gangster philosophy.

I bought all three at Amazon and will shortly be looking for more by the author, Max Allan Collins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nathan Heller Fighting For His Country December 2, 2013
Format:Paperback
Million Dollar Wound

Over the past week, I listened to the audio version of Million Dollar Wound. It was my first foray into "books on tape," which makes for an interesting commute once you get used to listening to a voice that you never thought would be Nathan Heller's voice.

Nathan Heller is Max Allan Collins' invention. Heller is a fictional character who interacted throughout the twentieth century with interesting figures and in controversial situations ranging from Eliot Ness' war on organized crime to Marilyn Monroe's last days. As bizarre and silly as the concept sounds in the abstract, in Collins' capable hands, the concept actually works and works well.

In this novel, which is the third of the "Nitti" era Heller novels, Heller and his buddy, ex-boxer Barney Ross, enlist in the marines. Both are too old to enlist, but they lie about their age and enlist anyway. Collins takes the pair through the drunken evening that ended with Heller enlisting and to Camp Pendleton, where they underwent basic training. The pair then head out to Guadalcanal to an incredible play-by-play foxhole fight with the Japanese army. The action is so intense, you actually feel as if you are watching a war movie, not reading (or listening) to a novel.

I had already read about how Heller "met" Monroe and the Kennedys years later, but I assumed that Barney was just another character in the story, not a real-life celebrity. Ross (aka Beryl Rosofsky) was actually a world champion in three weight divisions and decorated veteran of World War II where he fought Guadalcanal and killed nearly two dozen enemy troops in one night.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent. Always.
Published 3 days ago by Ann T
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read as all his books are
Published 6 days ago by layton hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read - interesting setting
I was taken by surprised - enjoyed understanding the post WWII Chicago mob scene. Good story that kept my interest the whole way - Great book
Published 24 days ago by rjb
4.0 out of 5 stars Collins (and Heller) at his best!
Good stuff! Collins' ability to place Heller in actual events is amazing. You start to believe that Nate was there, talking to Nitti, 'visiting' with Sally Rand and roaming the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by richard burg
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series
Well written in the style of 40's and 50's crime stories.
Historically correct and well researched as well giving you the feeling of being right there in that time and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by vinnyz
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding
This book was very good. It was interesting and I had a hard time putting the book down. There were some interesting twists in it.
Published 4 months ago by Alice M. Lawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great story...
Another great story involving Nate Heller. It's amazing how Collins is able to weave Heller into the storylines of actual happenings from the early 1900s. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nate Heller finds his inner Mike Hammer
This is the bridge book between the 30's Heller stories and the later ones, and the one where Heller goes from being a amoral Marlowe type figure to a slightly more moral Mike... Read more
Published 6 months ago by CincinnatiReader
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good book by Max Collins!
Last book in the Nitti trilogy, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. if you are a Collins fan, this is one of his best!
Published 6 months ago by Barbara Anne Atkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Mafia history
Well written fiction that because of true history intertwined with it is very entertaining. Keeping some of the history while reading it keeps you glued to the story. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
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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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