The Nate Heller novels explore the seedy underworld of organised crime blending fact and fiction to create an irresistible tale that appeals to true crime buffs and noir enthusiasts alike. In TRUE CRIME, author Max Allan Collins pits his former cop turned solo PI against public enemies John Dillinger and the Barker gang among others. I love the way Max Allan Collins subtly introduces Dillinger by way of a man wanting to keep tabs on his promiscuous wife. Dillinger, having undergone plastic surgery isn’t instantly recognisable to Heller, the deception sets forth a chain of events that leads Heller from the Windy City to the deadly spaces of rural farm life.
In order to fully appreciate TRUE CRIME, a recommended read is PUBLIC ENEMIES – the non fiction counterpart which chronicles the events of the real world gangsters. Nate Heller, the fictitious PI is beautifully intertwined into this violent and realistic underworld. From shootouts, kidnapping, unethical mob docs, and corrupt cops – Heller takes is all in stride, never batting an eyelid in the face of danger and death.
There is a lot to like about TRUE CRIME and I found myself utterly immersed, not only in the multi faceted yet intertwined plot thread but in Heller’s personal life. Sally Rand, a performer and love interest keeps Heller grounded yet his devotion to justice continues to compromise any longer term plans – that and being an accessory to murder. The depth to Heller keeps the story grounded and maintains the illusion of reality. This isn’t a blood thirsty mob story; it’s more a journey of discovery and a snippet of Heller in his quest to better the world around him.
In a word: brilliant, well worth 5 stars.