cover image Mourn the Living: A Nolan Novel

Mourn the Living: A Nolan Novel

Max Allan Collins. Five Star (ME), $21.95 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-7862-2211-7

This is less a blast than a blip from the literary past of one of the genre's more prolific and acclaimed authors. Collins's crime fiction (Majic Man, Forecasts, Aug. 23; etc.) has often explored the past. This novel is now historical more by accident than design, however, as it's a previously unpublished volume from the late 1960s that marks the first appearance of Collins's protagonist Nolan, the mobster/thief/killer who appeared, in modified form, in subsequent novels, including Bait Money and Spree. Having killed two mob brothers in Chicago and stolen their money, Nolan lives mostly on the lam. Here, he journeys to Chelsey, Ill., to find the truth behind a college co-ed's death while high on acid. Collins doesn't write with his later authority here. He imagines two college-age women for Nolan to get friendly with, and two hapless hoods for him to beat up, but the plot doesn't feel fully developed and the solution seems almost unrelated to the preceding narrative. There are moments when Collins's later style appears in embryonic form, but there's a good reason why this novel remained unpublished for decades; today, it's a curiosity for Collins completists only. (Dec.)