Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review of Deadly Beloved

Book #18. Deadly Beloved: A Ms Tree Novel, by Max Allan Collins. Paperback.

My thoughts about pulp stories are similar to my thoughts about steampunk stories. I like the aesthetics, and I like the concepts, but I haven’t read a lot in either genre. As much I like the trappings of each genre, I don’t find of lot of interesting stories in the genres. But I find the character of Ms Tree unique and intriguing.

I know of Ms Tree from comics books, which is also where was introduced to the work of the author Max Allan Collins. He is probably best known as the creator of the graphic novel The Road to Perdition, as well as taking over for creator Chester Gould on the Dick Tracy comic strip. He co-created Ms Tree with artist Terry Beatty, and wrote all of her comic book appearances.

The novel tells a similar story to the comic books, but it was different enough for me to not know what was going to happen. On her honeymoon, Ms (Michael) Tree’s husband (also named Michael) is murdered, and in this story, we learn that the murder was just one of a series of never-before-connected crimes. Working with colleagues in her PI office, and her police contacts, they work to solve the case.

There was an interesting narrative device of interspersing discussions between Ms Tree and her psychologist with action in the active investigation. This was becoming tedious until near the end of the story, where the two narrative threads intersected. In retrospect, it was an effective narrative choice.

Collins regularly acknowledges his fandom of Mickey Spillane: they even collaborated on a comic book in the 1990s. And the tough-talking, straight-shooting (literally and figuratively) Ms Tree is a hero in the mold of Mike Hammer. She is a great lead character, and is strong enough to carry her own stories.

Unfortunately, this is the only Ms Tree novel that has ever been published, and she hasn’t been seen in a comic book in more than two decades. I long for the day when some new material featuring her appears.

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