Cover image for Angel in black : a Nathan Heller novel
Angel in black : a Nathan Heller novel
Collins, Max Allan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New American Library, [2001]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"She was a woman of uncompromising beauty who had come to Los Angeles to seek fame and fortune. Her quest ended in an abandoned lot on the outskirts of the city. First on the crime scene is newshound Bill Fowley, and at his side is Chicago private eye Nathan Heller, in town to help launch the West Coast branch of his famed detective agency. The police arrive at the brutal scene of the crime and suddenly the postwar world of Hollywood is plunged into the terror that is the Black Dahlia case. Only one problem persists: uncovering the woman's identity." "Her name was Elizabeth Short, and Heller vividly remembers her from Chicago. But revealing that he knew her can only land him atop a very short list of suspects. Heller's own investigation starts with what he knew of the doomed wannabe starlet, with the crazed phone call he received from her just days before her death. But looking into her past means opening old wounds - and revealing secrets of his own. At the risk of his marriage, his career, and maybe even his life, Heller is drawn into an inescapable maze to lay bare a terrifying truth behind the facade of Hollywood's make-believe world."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Max Allen Collins was born in 1948 in Muscatine, Iowa. He is a two-time winner of the Private Eye Writer's of America's Shamus Award for his Nathaniel Heller historical thrillers "True Detective" and "Stolen Away". Collins also wrote the Dick Tracy comic strip begining in 1977 and ending in the early 1990s. He has contributed to a number of other comics, including Batman. Collins created his first independent feature film, Mommy, following a nightmarish experience as screenwriter on the cable movie The Expert.

Collins has been contracted by DC Comics to write three tie-ins to his critically acclaimed graphic novel "The Road to Perdition", which was adapted into the feature film. Author of other such move tie-in bestsellers as "In the Line of Fire" and "Air Force One", he is also the screenwriter/director of the cult favorite suspense films "Mommie" and "Mommie's Day".

(Publisher Provided) Max Allen Collins was born in Muscatine, Iowa on March 3, 1948.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition, published in 1998, is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig. His other works include Road to Purgatory, Road to Paradise, Return to Perdition, Bye Bye, Baby, and Target Lancer. He won the Shamus awards for True Detective in 1983 and Stolen Away in 1991. He is completing a number of Mike Hammer novels begun by the late Mickey Spillane. He has collaborated with his wife Barbara Collins on three novels and numerous short stories. Their Antiques Flee Market won the Romantic Times Best Humorous Mystery Novel award in 2009.

His comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy (1977-1993), Ms. Tree, Batman; and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, based on the hit TV series for which he has also written ten novels. He has written tie-in books for several movies including Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster, which won the Best Novel Scribe Award in 2008 from the International Association of Tie-in Writers.

His non-fiction works include The History of Mystery and Men's Adventure Magazines, which won Anthony Award. He is also an independent filmmaker. He has written and directed five features and two documentaries, including the Lifetime movie Mommy and the sequel, Mommy's Day.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Nathan Heller, founder and president of Chicago's A-1 Detective Agency, is in Los Angeles in 1947 to forge a partnership with Fred Bradbury, an ex-Chicago cop running a small detective business. Nate is also on a honeymoon with his new bride, Peggy, who has visions of Hollywood stardom. Heller is schmoozing with a Herald-Examiner reporter when the scribe picks up a possible homicide alert on his police-band radio. That's how Heller finds himself on the scene of what will become L.A.s' most famous officially unsolved murder: the Black Dahlia case. The victim is a beautiful young women who was tortured, raped, drained of fluids, cut in two, and dumped in a vacant lot. The victim is initially unknown to the cops, but not to Heller. She's Elizabeth Short, with whom Heller had a recent affair before marrying Peggy. A couple days earlier Short contacted Heller with news of her pregnancy--by him. If the cops knew, Heller would be their top suspect, so while he assists in the investigation, he also covers up his relationship with the victim. But Heller also has a theory about the crime: that it was not strictly a sex crime but a Mob-orchestrated execution staged to send a message. The Nate Heller historical crime novels consistently mesmerize with their carefully researched period detail--noir meets the History Channel--and their unique, alternative solutions to famous crimes. Collins' take on the Black Dahlia may be less brooding and less experimental than James Ellroy's version (The Blue Dahlia, 1987), but it's also more entertaining and will appeal to a wider audience of mainstream historical mystery fans. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 1947 Black Dahlia case provides the basis for Shamus Award winner Collins's latest intriguing blend of fiction and real-life mystery featuring his well-connected Chicago P.I., Nathan Heller (Majic Man; Flying Blind). Newly married and in L.A. to publicize his partnership with a California-based P.I., Heller and a reporter are the first to discover the severed, mutilated body of Elizabeth Short. It just so happens Heller knew her they'd dated briefly in Chicago and she'd called just the night before, claiming she was pregnant. If made public, this connection would not only threaten Heller's marriage and business but make him a suspect. The authorities are treating this as a sex crime, but Heller thinks the mob is sending a message to informers. The case also recalls the grisly Kingsbury Run murders (which Collins explored in his 1988 Eliot Ness novel, Butcher's Dozen). In his quest to catch the killer, Heller brings in Ness and hobnobs with gangsters and movie stars, including Orson Welles, who hints at his own possible involvement. The characters, historical and fictional, come delightfully to life; the victim, too, turns out to be tragically complex, at once deceitful, na‹ve and endearing. Collins paints a web of interconnections in a tightly woven plot and posits a radical solution to a crime that still resonates in literature and movies. (Mar. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved