This was the first of the "Nate Heller" detective series novels of Collins that I had read, and I must admit that I couldn't put it down. Not only is this tour de force a great mystery and suspense novel, it is also a wonderful historical novel; well researched and informative while grabbing and then not letting go of the reader's interest.
The story of how Chicago policeman Heller becomes involved in the case of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping is plausible enough. Once the wise cracking detective is admitted to the inner circle of the myriad investigators and con men (and women) involved in the infamous 1932 tragedy the excitement begins and continues without let-up. I was not that familiar with the details of the case until I started this novel, but Collins does a wonderful job of making each character (both those of historical record, and those who are fictional blendings of historical characters) belivable and memorable. One strong point of the book is that I finished it feeling that I knew more about the case that I did previously. Collins posts an afterword to the book that explains which parts are fictitious, conjecture, and historical. He also presents a detailed proposed reading list for those interested, along with his comments on the bias or worth of each author. I really appreciated this part of the book.
As for Heller himself, the Chicago lawman grows on you, even though Collins presents him as not always a shining knight, showing him "warts and all." The book is quite long, 593 pages in the paperback edition, including the afterword, but the complexities of the story make it a good read, well worth the time and effort.
A definite 5 stars, this one made me rush out and buy up other books in the Nate Heller series, as well as check out the facts of the historical case that inspired this story. My advice is for anyone who hasn't read this novel to do the same.