cover image The Million-Dollar Wound

The Million-Dollar Wound

Max Allan Collins. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-312-53252-9

Collins has wrapped up his ""Frank Nitti trilogy'' in fine style: new readers will be tempted to go back to True Detective and True Crime. Private-eye narrator Nate Heller is hired by Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler and movie star Robert Montgomery to get the goods on Willy Bioff, crooked head of the movie technicians' union. Set mainly in Chicago from 1939 to 1943, with several stints in Hollywood and Guadalcanal, the book is rich in local color, period flavor and action. It is also populated with actual characters, including Eliot Ness and boxer Barney Ross. Brooding over these assorted personalities is Frank Nitti, Capone's successor as head of the Chicago mob, who has an odd, almost-friendly relationship with Heller. Collins, writer of Dick Tracy, shows his comic-strip background, but the slam-bang action is nicely fleshed out with believable characterizations. Photos not seen by PW. (March 31)