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

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Jack & Maggie Starr Series

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$9.95 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


"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

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: #333,926 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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition
This is an odd duck, for sure. The first half of the book is an historical novel, set against a backdrop of real characters and real events, even if some of the names have been changed. Midway through, however, a murder of a significant historical person is committed (which did not happen in real life) and from that point on, the book becomes a sort of alternate history where we get to imagine how these real-life characters would have reacted.

Hard Case Crime has a penchant for unearthing off-beat pulp novels with interesting back stories. With Seduction of the Innocent, author Max Allan Collins wanted to complete his trilogy of roman a clef mystery novels set in the Golden Age of Comics. The first novel (A Killing in Comics) dealt with the artists who created Superman and how they were cheated of their profits. The second novel (Strip for Murder) was set against the backdrop of a famous feud between two popular comic artists. Since the previous publisher dropped the series after two installments, HCC stepped in and published this final volume about the government's crusade against violent and erotic comics in the 1950's.

I suspect the roman a clef aspects would be very fun to any reader familiar with comics and comic writers of the era. Collins both skewers the industry for its excesses but also idealizes the artists as pioneers of a misunderstood art. It's obvious he wanted to play up the more colorful behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Unfortunately, since I wasn't in on the joke, I found it difficult to care about some of the minor characters or understand their relevance to the story at large.

I was saavy enough at least to figure out some of the code: Americana=DC Comics. Wonder Guy=Superman. Batwing=Batman. Amazonia=Wonder Woman. Craze=Mad Magazine.
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