A direct follow-up to the Collins novel Target Lancer (reviewed here), this one finds Chicago PI Nate Heller drawn into the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination. And as he finds out, looking into the president’s death can be a risky proposition for one’s own safety.
Despite the grand scale of the crime being investigated, Collins manages to keep the smaller-scale feel of a traditional PI novel. Nate Heller’s skill as an investigator provides the driving force for the novel. This helps keep the story grounded, despite its outrageous premise.
There is a very nice mix of history and fiction in this novel. There are enough recognizable conspiracy moments in the book to make the conclusions appear reasonable – in this world, Kennedy was assassinated by a group of Kennedy enemies that included the mob, elements in the CIA, and Lyndon Johnson. In the last chapter, Louisiana DA Jim Garrison appears, and the Oliver Stone movie “JFK” is mentioned in the novel’s final pages, implying that the film was on the right track in its thesis.
In addition to his skill at portraying the world of the private investigator, Collins captures very well the essence of 1964. Both Beatlemania and the growing Vietnam War are happening in the background of the novel, adding a nice sense of realism to the novel.
I have enjoyed these two Max Allan Collins novels, and I look forward to diving deeper into his long bibliography.
Source: public library