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Ask Not (Nathan Heller) Hardcover – October 22, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* The third in Collins’ trilogy of Nathan Heller novels about JFK, this one jumps from a few weeks before the assassination (Target Lancer, 2012), when a planned attempt on the president’s life in Chicago was aborted, to several months after the events of November 22, 1963. Heller becomes involved when he and his son are nearly run down as they leave a Beatles concert. Recognizing the driver as one of the Cubans involved in the Chicago plot, Heller sets out to take his family off the assassins’ radar and soon finds himself even deeper in hot water, as he follows the trail of a host of spurious suicides by witnesses of the shooting in Dallas whose versions of what happened conflict with the official, “one-man, one-shooter” version being promulgated by the Warren Commission. Teaming with TV star and investigative reporter Flo Kilgore (read Dorothy Kilgallen), who is on the verge of exposing the cover-up—and its ties to several LBJ cronies—Heller ruffles feathers at the CIA, in the Mob, and possibly even in (or very near) the White House. A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides—all documented in the historical record—and making great use of the Kilgore/Kilgallen character, who was herself one of the unlikely suicides. Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection. --Bill Ott


“Collins has not only devised an original take on what may well be the most-written-about crime in history but also made Heller's role in the case plausible.” ―Publishers Weekly on Target Lancer

Target Lancer brings us a different, fact-based assassination scenario, eerily paralleling the Dealey Plaza nightmare.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Target Lancer

“Collins spins a fascinating tale with appearances by Jack Ruby, Jimmy Hoffa, and Bobby Kennedy. Gripping from the get-go, this will satisfy both Heller fans and assassination wonks ever eager for a new spin on the story.” ―Booklist on Target Lancer

“Noir meets the History Channel―Collins effortlessly weaves his historical material into a fast-moving narrative.” ―Booklist on 'Bye Bye, Baby'

“Max Allan Collins can lay claim to being the master of true-crime fiction. . . a seamless juxtaposition of narrative cunning and historical cross-referencing.” ―Chicago Magazine


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Product Details

  • Series: Nathan Heller (Book 14)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076533626X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765336262
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on November 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Max Collins has made a career of bringing conspiracy theories to life through the eyes of his creation, Nathan Heller: private eye to the stars.

Beginning in the 1930 and now into the 1960s, Nate Heller has found himself drawn into events transcending notable actions like the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Bugsy Siegle murder or even the Kennedy assassination. Collins' skill lies in connecting known facts and people and subsequently intertwining Heller and his associates among them.

In his most recent story, Heller jumps the recent killing of Kennedy to other issues the were percolating at time-- this time, the relationship of Lyndon Johnson and big money and that connection/relationship to JFK. Collins never openly declares that LBJ was involved directly in the president's murder, but "indirectly"...who is to say!

Here's what you can be assured of in a Collins-Heller novel: a fast-moving, historically connected tale; a well-written story that summarizes and leads you thru a labyrinth of actual events with a plausible conclusion; and characters and locations you can easily relate to. As a suggestion, this is the third story in a JFK trilogy Collins planned It's not necessary to have read "Bye, Bye Baby" or "Target Lancer" the other books around the Kennedy murder, but it simply helps with your understanding of how Heller gets involved in this historical situation.

The bottom line is this: Colin's is One of the best writers ever in this genre... Give yourself a treat and get acquainted.
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It’s 1964. Beatlemania is sweeping the nation, and Chicago private eye Nate Heller is taking his son to see the group live onstage. Heller is working security for the group, and as a result, he gives his son one awesome birthday present when he brings him to meet the group and they sign a napkin for him. All in all, it was a terrific evening, even if the Beatles’ screaming fans threatened to permanently damage Heller’s hearing.

But I suppose something worse could happen. For instance, a car might try to run Heller and his son down, and damn near succeed at ridding the world of the feisty P.I. once and for all. But Heller’s son is too quick for the driver, and succeeds at getting his dad out of harm’s way. But Nate Heller got a look at the driver, and he’s pretty sure he recognizes him. It’s somebody that he dealt with almost a year ago, a Cuban who was connected with the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy… in Chicago. The plot, described in detail in 2012’s "Target Lancer", was ultimately foiled, but didn’t do much good: Kennedy met his death in Dallas a few weeks later, and the supposed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed two days later by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

The Warren Commission is about to conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin, an anti-Kennedy, pro-Castro maniac who decided to kill the President and managed to do so. But due to his involvement in foiling the Chicago attempt on Kennedy’s life, Heller knows that the truth is far more complicated. He suspects that, due to his knowledge, some people in power might consider him a “loose end” that needs to be tidied up. He investigates, and discovers that all sorts of “loose ends” are being cleaned up.
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In a previous novel, Max Allan Collins presented a plausible scenario for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The players represented three groups, each of which had much to lose if the young president continued in office. Having failed in Chicago, they succeeded in Dallas. The main reason for the Chicago failure was the activity of Collins' fictional private detective, Nathan Heller. The character of Heller has allowed Collins to examine several major mysteries in, mostly, American history, from the Lindbergh kidnapping through the disappearance of Amelia Earhart to the Roswell UFOs. Now, in "Ask Not," Collins places Heller at another point in the JFK mystery. It is February of 1964 and Heller has taken his teenage son to see the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. Leaving the theater, they are nearly run down by a car whose driver Heller recognizes. It is one of the Cubans who were part of the plot to assassinate the president during the previous year. Heller realizes that someone is tying off loose ends and immediately takes steps to protect his family, including his ex-wife. The journey takes him into contact with a shadowy CIA operative dating from the original Kennedy-led plot to assassinate Castro. He meets with a mob leader in Louisiana and is eventually led to characters who flit about New Orleans like moths around a flame: Jack Ruby, a truly weird David Ferrie, and DA Jim Garrison. He hooks up with a New York columnist and TV personality, Flo Kilgore. Flo is obviously modeled on real-life Dorothy Kilgallen and, like Dorothy, professes to possess information that will "blow the assassination wide open." Like Dorothy, she ends up dead before she can publish anything, but Heller knows what she has and acts accordingly.Read more ›
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