Sunday, January 4, 2015


Legendary sex symbol Marilyn Monroe took her own life via an overdose of various pills on August 5th, 1962. At least, that's what history says. But there have always been questions about Monroe's death and in Max Allan Collins' mystery novel BYE BYE, BABY (2011), private detective Nate Heller discovers the truth behind the icon's untimely demise.

Nate Heller is Collins' durable private eye who has, in a serious of brilliant novels, solved many of the major unsolved crimes and mysteries of the 20th century. By the early 1960s, Heller has an office in Los Angeles where he serves as a "security consultant" and is known as the "private eye to the stars."

Heller is hired by Monroe at the beginning of the book to install phone taps in her house. She fears she's being watched and listened to by a variety of people, some good (relatively speaking), some bad. Monroe does of course eventually die but not before she and Heller have shared a bed together. Heller launches his own investigation into her death and he finds a trail of cover-ups, lies, and deceit that stretches all the way from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.

In the course of the novel Heller meets and rubs shoulders with a veritable "who's who" of the major players that were involved with Monroe either directly or peripherally. There's Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Hugh Hefner, Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana, Joe DiMaggio, U.S Attorney General Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. Collins also has several other real life characters as minor players along with some entirely fictional creations.  It's a skillful blend of fact and fiction, part history book, part noir thriller.

This is the fifth Nate Heller book I've had the pleasure to read. I'm currently reading THE MILLION DOLLAR WOUND, the third in the series, which takes place during World War II. Collins has a real winner with the Heller books. They punch two of my hot buttons: history and mystery. Thumbs up to all.

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