cover image Spree: Max Allan Collins

Spree: Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins. Tor Books, $15.95 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93029-5

Collins (The Million-Dollar Wound, the Mallory series) may not be in Elmore Leonard's class but he's a contender. Nolan, a retired thief, is 50-ish and legit now, owner of a successful shopping-mall restaurant in the Quad Cities on the Iowa-Illinois border. He even has a young, beautiful live-in assistant whom he'll probably marry soon. (For the taciturn Nolan, Sherry's ""in the top two''; money will always be number one for him.) Nolan's new identity is threatened when Coleman Comfort, ex-crime confederate, reenters his life. Bearing a crazy grudge, Comfort is also after a big score: he kidnaps Sherry and forces Nolan to mastermind the heist of the whole shopping mall. Nolan suspects what we know from the start: that Comfort is a ruthless psychotic who does not leave living witnesses. As Nolan plans the heist he must also try and find Sherry. The end is bloody, if a bit pat, but readers will love the snappy pace, wonderful color (a shopping mall at its Christmas apogee) and rich cast of characters. Cole Comfort, handsome, paternal good ole boy with a disarming smle, is a terrific villain. (October 21)