cover image Deadly Beloved

Deadly Beloved

Max Allan Collins, . . Hard Case Crime, $6.99 (203pp) ISBN 978-0-8439-5778-5

The wife of a prominent accounting firm executive has just been arrested for the murder of her husband and his afternoon pay-per-playmate, but the Chicago PD have their doubts about the open-and-shut case. It's up to longtime Collins heroine, Ms. Tree, the sexy brunette PI star of his graphic novel series, to clear the forest of red herrings and uncover the conspiracy beneath; of course, her tricky investigation is soon beset by deadly antagonists. Tree slips effortlessly into her first all-prose incarnation, though “graphic” is not an inaccurate description for this exceptional novel: “Mike was sprawled on his back... his bare chest puckered with entry wounds and blood pooling beneath him, glistening with neon reflection.” A psychiatrist Tree seeks out (for help with recurring nightmares) provides a framing device that keeps her complex tale unspooling smoothly, and Collins skillfully ties up a multitude of branches into the big, bloody bouquet one would expect from the author of The Road to Perdition . Sharp and satisfying, this is another must-have for fans of the Hard Case Crime imprint. (Dec.)