Friday Forgotten Book: A Killing in Comics

this is the 85th book in my series of forgotten books

A Killing in Comics by Max Alan Collins © 2007, Berkeley Prime Crime 2001 trade paperback, mystery, 1st in Jack Starr “comics mysteries” series

I like the writing of Max Alan Collins, and – having seen him on panels at mystery cons and having met him twice, very briefly, the first time at the Milwaukee Bouchercon, the other after a panel at another con – I like him as well. I’ve read some of each of his other series and they are good. I hadn’t read any of this series and thought it was high time I did.

This one is set in 1948 and the milieu is the New York comic strip and comic book industry. As is true with Collins’ Heller series, there are historical persons portrayed here, but this time Collins has changed their names just enough that while someone with a knowledge of the players there and then will know who they are, they are not real persons in the strictest sense.

It’s Americana publisher Donny Harrison’s 50th birthday and he’s having a party. It’s in his mistresses suite at the Waldorf, and he’s invited his wife. He’s also invited Harry Spiegel and Moe Schulman, the writer and artist of Wonder Guy, Americana’s huge hit superhero comic. The party doesn’t go well for Donny, he winds up dead, stabbed in front of 30 or more witnesses, none of whom saw the murderer.

Maggie Starr is the head of  a newspaper syndicate, the one responsible for distribution of the Wonder Guy comic strip. Her stepson Jack Starr is at the party. They decide it’s in their best interests to get to the bottom of the murder, and fast. Sure, the NYPD is working on it, but they have a lot of other cases, and Jack – who is a licensed P.I. in New York – believes he knows the industry and people better so he can solve it faster. So he starts interviewing people. Not surprisingly, just about everyone has a motive, and most had opportunity too.

This is a light, fast moving mystery which for me is as much fun for the comics background as the crime solving. I had this one narrowed down to three, then two suspects by the last quarter of the book, and I saw the solution about the same time as Jack Starr did. Collins has wrapped this one up with the classic ending: pull all the suspects together and reveal the murderer. Pretty fun. I’ll read the next in the series.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Patti Abbott is on a kind of holiday, so all of this weeks Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom

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10 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book: A Killing in Comics

  1. macavityabc says:

    I enjoyed this one, too.

  2. Jerry House says:

    A fun series. And book number three, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, is on the way.

  3. Richard says:

    I’ve already read the second one, so #3 on the way is indeed good news, Jerry.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Glad you reviewed this as I was thinking about whether or not to read it.

  5. I loved both these also. I haven’t run across a bad max Allan Collins book to date. There IS one I won’t read, but not because of his writing. It’s a movie novelization of a favorite old sixties TV series of mine and from the trailer I knew it was going to be bad. Not his fault and I’m sure the book was better than the source material. I just can’t bring myself to read it.

  6. Todd Mason says:

    Cool. This does seem as natural as Ron Goulart taking on similar materials. I’ll look forward to this, and perhaps particularly to the one set during the repression of comics (among so much else) in the 1950s…this is indeed Patti’s unfun Friday, keep a good thought for her, and I’ll have the links up as I find ‘em. (My similarly unfun Friday is next week.)

  7. John says:

    I saw an ARC of this a while ago in a used book shop and should’ve bought it. Now of course – GONE! Have you ever read THE COMIC BOOK KILLER by Richard Lupoff? That’s a good one with a comics background. The original limited hardcover edition even included a comic book “Gangster Wars” that is mentioned in the story. You can probably find a cheap copy of the paperback reissue.

  8. Just bought this book after Randy Johnson’s reccomendation a little while back – my first ever Collins, which seems hard to believe after 30 years of reading mysteries …

  9. I’ve heard good things about it. Will probably pick it up at some point.

  10. Richard says:

    These are both fairly light ‘n’ easy, but I certainly enjoyed them. I’ll post a review of the second book soon, maybe not as an FFB.

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