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Seduction of the Innocent (Hard Case Crime) Paperback – February 19, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

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Comics fans will recall Dr. Fredric Wertham’s sensational Seduction of the Innocent, which alleged a deleterious influence of comic books on young readers. The resulting brouhaha involved Congress and virtually destroyed the comic-book business in the 1950s. Collins has now re-created those circumstances in his roman á clef. This time, though, the controversial author is named Dr. Werner Frederick, and his book is titled Ravage of the Lambs. When a related murder occurs, Jack Starr, vice president of the Starr Syndicate and part-time private investigator, is on a case about which there is nothing comical. The smoothly written, hard-boiled mystery follows Starr as he attempts to determine whodunit, sometimes at his personal peril. Collins, author of the classic graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998), certainly knows his way around the comics world and includes many sly references to it and to pop culture in general as his tale unfolds. In an afterword, he writes about the comics culture of the fifties and identifies the real people who inspired their fictional counterparts. It’s all great fun for comics and mystery buffs alike. --Michael Cart

Review

"Collins masterfully blends fact and fiction...transcends the historical thriller." - Jeffery Deaver

"Violent and volatile and packed with sexuality...classic pulp fiction." - USA Today

"Collins' witty, hard-boiled prose would make Raymond Chandler proud." - Entertainment Weekly

"Max Allan Collins blends fact and fiction like no other writer." - Andrew Vachss

 "Collins makes it sound as though it really happened." - New York Daily News

"Few people alive today can tell a story better than Max Allan Collins. SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT is a great, page-turning read that is beautiful to look at and serves as another proud addition to the Hard Case Crime library." – Bookreporter

“A solid tale of crime, greed, and murder with a tasty dash of sequential art history in the mix.” – Fanboy Comics

“Everything I would ever want in a detective novel.” – Geek Hard

“When a book manages to keep me reading from beginning to end, I consider it a job well done, but when I sit there for hours on end reading because I can’t put it down, that’s when I consider a book truly good and Seduction of the Innocent falls happily in that second category.” – Geekenstein

“A fast read, hedged by a bevy of hilarious characters and culminating in a delicious ‘whodunit.’” – Noir Whale

“Any fan of noir, pulp fiction or comic books will appreciate Seduction of the Innocent.” – Pop Cults

“Hats off to Max Allan Collins for this phenomenally entertaining piece of historical fiction, and Terry Beatty, for the classic, inspired EC style art work.” – Comic Hype
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Product Details

  • Series: Hard Case Crime (Book 110)
  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime (February 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857687484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857687487
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on March 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
In the early 1950s, America was literally on top of the world, having emerged from the Second World War as the dominant economic and political power on the planet. But at home, Americans were terrified (or, more accurately, manipulated into being afraid) of communists infiltrating everything from the State Department to the local schools. And they were also scared of comic books.

Yes, comic books were seen back then as a threat to America's youth. Before there was Elvis and his subversive hips on "The Ed Sullivan Show," there were graphic covers on newsstands of blood-splattered horror, ghouls and women in various stages of undress on titles such as Tales from the Crypt. Publishers like EC Comics put out many of the worst offenders. And once the impressionable minds of our youth consumed this material, all sorts of juvenile delinquency and social anarchy would follow. So the argument went.

Max Allan Collins, bestselling author of several acclaimed mystery series, the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION and a writer of the Dick Tracy comic strip, has written a wonderful historical novel and hardboiled mystery about this period of American history. Seduction of the Innocent was the name of a real 1954 study by psychiatrist and author Dr. Fredric Wertham. In Collins's talented hands, 2013's SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT becomes a richly imagined mystery.

And in keeping with the period the novel covers, Hard Case Crime has given the story the full pulp treatment, including 16 pages of illustrated interior pages by comic book artist Terry Beatty of Batman fame and a truly stunning pulp cover by Glen Orbik.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erik N. Carlson on April 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was working for a rare book dealer when I came across a volume of the 1955 U.S. Congress Committee on the Judiciary Volume of Juvenile Delinquency: Comic Books, Motion Pictures, Obscene and Pornographic Materials, and Television Programs. It was a volume (some 1,000 pages) of committee transcriptions dealing with how these monstrosities will infect American youth like some horrible drug. It sought to curb the temptation set up by the comic industry by making crime and evil so damn seductive. For impact, there are transcripts from purveyors, priests, parents, and victims.

My favorite bit comes from the Code of Comics Magazine Association of America (adopted 26 Oct. 1954):

"The comic-book medium, having come of age on the American cultural scene, must measure up to its responsibilities...
To make a positive contribution to contemporary life , the industry must seek new areas for developing sound, wholesome entertainment."

Of course transcipts continue to allude to an American tradition of decency and fairness. Since most of these Senators are from Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas, and this is pre-60′s Civil Rights, I was never sure whose vision of American tradition they wanted preserved. I can make good solid guesses though.

Anyway, when I saw that Max Allan Collins was releasing his third Jack and Maggie Starr novel through Hard Case Crime I was pretty damned thrilled. When it was revealed that it would be a fictional attack on Dr. Frederick Wertham (the McCarthy of Comic Books) I was down-right ecstatic. Wertham firmly believed that he could save the world from the savagery of comic-books and did his best to see the industry crippled.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald S. Wilson on March 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I understand that a writer requires some time to establish the plot I felt that this particular novel labored on too long initially. The mystery doesn't begin until almost half way. After that it takes on a breakneck speed and is hard to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Maniscalco on March 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another successful historical mystery by the master of the form, Max Allan Collins' "Seduction of the Innocent" is the third in a series, though it's a very successful stand alone novel by itself. Fans of comic books will find much to like, and will enjoy matching disguised names to well known publishing and comic book figures. More fun follows when the reader matches fictious superheroes and titles to familiar characters and books.
The protagonists are a loving update to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe/ Archie Goodwin combination, and the illustrations by Terry Beatty add much to the enjoyment. The book appears to capture the details of the real life comic book witch hunts of the 1950s quite accurately, as Collins continues to carefully research his respective plot and details.
Many Hard Case Crimes are hard-boiled in presentation, owing the line's name and logo to the 1950s pulp paperbacks. The cover illustration honors HCC's commitment to the genre, though the story itself is more than soft-boiled--but not quite what we'd consider "hard boiled" crime fiction
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Rutledge on June 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay, if you're a comic book fan, especially one who enjoys EC horror comics and Lev Gleason style crime comics, you do not want to miss Max Allan Collins' novel, Seduction of the Innocent. Loosely based on events surrounding Dr. Fredric Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent, which attempted to link comic books and juvenile delinquency, Collins' novel is a fair-play, Nero Wolfe style mystery that features characters and suspects who will be very familiar to anyone well versed in the history of comics.
Max Allan Collins, himself a sometimes writer of comic books and comic strips, does an amazing job of recreating the world of comics publishing in New York in the 1950s. This shouldn't come as a surprise as he does much the same thing in some of his collaborations with Mickey Spillane, some which I've reviewed here. His detective, Jack Starr, a trouble shooter for the Starr newspaper syndicate (owned by Jack and his foxy step mother Maggie) isn't quite the hardcase that Mike Hammer is, being closer in spirit to Rex Stout's Archie Goodwin, but when some mob boys try and lean on him, Jack shows he can certainly deal with them in a way that would make Hammer proud.
Even if you're not a comics fan, this is a well plotted, engaging mystery with plenty of twists. I've been reading Collins for over thirty years now and I'm always impressed with his writing. He uses several first person narrators in various series and he manages to make them all individuals. Jack Starr doesn't sound like Quarry who doesn't sound like Nate Heller who doesn't sound like Mallory. Collins makes this look easy, but trust me, it isn't.
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