Thursday, December 4, 2014


I finished reading MAJIC MAN by Max Allan Collins the other night. This 1999 mystery novel is the 11th Nate Heller adventure.  The latest in the series, ASK NOT, was published 2013.

Nate Heller, for those who don't know, is a private detective who gets involved in several of the most high profile real life murder/mystery cases of the 20th century. Throughout the series, Heller interacts with almost everyone who was anyone in America between the 1930s and the 1960s. Politicians, gangsters, movie stars, cops, government agents, presidents, cabinet members, newspaper columnists, military officers, etc. Heck, you name 'em and if they are in any way connected to a famous crime or unsolved mystery, Heller's met 'em. He's a gumshoe Forrest Gump investigating the seedy underbelly of the twentieth century in novels that are film noir meets The History Channel.

I've read four of the Heller novels. The first, TRUE DETECTIVE was published in 1983 (I read it way back when). It involves the assassination attempt in Miami on President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chicago's Mayor Cermak. BLOOD AND THUNDER (1995, Nate Heller #8) is about another political assassination, this one that of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. And FLYING BLIND (1998, Nate Heller #10) reveals what really happened to legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

MAJIC MAN  finds Heller involved with the near-mythic "flying saucer" crash that occurred in Roswell New Mexico in July 1947. The bulk of the novel takes place two years later, in 1949 with Heller interviewing as many witnesses to the "crash" as possible. The more people he talks to, the more it appears that there really may have been aliens involved in the incident. Or were they?

Heller interacts with Secretary of Defense James D. Forestal, President Harry Truman, columnist Drew Pearson, Air Force officer Jesse Marcel and about a dozen other real people. He also discovers a secret organization within the U.S. government known as Majestic Twelve. The truth about Roswell is finally revealed but not before lives are lost.

MAJIC MAN is a first rate page turner. Collins has done his homework well and he sticks to the historical facts of the case. His portrayals of real people are accurate, as are his descriptions of period clothes and cars. Heller wisecracks his way through a twisted case of government cover-ups, ex-Nazis, a beautiful femme fatale and more. If you love mysteries, if you love history, check out MAJIC MAN. You'll love it. I sure did.

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