Chicago Lightning : The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories
A Q&A with Max Allan Collins Question:Chicago Lightningis a story collection about private detective Nate Heller. It's a rich collection, yet the stories number only 13--meaning that since 1984 (when the first Heller book,True … see full wiki
The short story isn't something that I normally read, which is unfortunate. It's a great art, where the author has to convey quite a bit in a compressed time frame. Because of this, some aspects you would normally expect while reading a novel are missing, such as detailed character development. However, if you pick up a collection of short stories centered on one figure, for example, Chicago Lightning, by Max Allan Collins, the reader is able to learn quite a bit about the central character as well as some recurring characters. Where Chicago Lightning really takes off is in the author's use of real cases using an old form - the private detective.
Nathan "Nate" Heller is the central character and the private detective. He isn't quite what you might expect of a 1930's and 1940's private eye as described by other authors, such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, or Mickey Spillane what you might expect. Actually, I find that I love reading about Nate, and his cases, than any other detective in the genre. The language, characters, and cases make this a wonderful read. Where it really shined, for me, was when Max Allan Collins put Nate Heller in cases in which I am familiar, for example, the Cleveland Torso Murders in the 1930's. What makes that story so wonderful is that Collins brings Nate to Cleveland to work with Eliot Ness. In fact, Heller and Ness work several cases together, which brings those stories alive.
If you're looking for something "different," introduce yourself to the short story with a strong character like Nate Heller. The tight writing, exciting cases, and hard dialog, will keep you turning pages well after you should be turning in for the night. Chicago Lightning is an exceptional collection of stories.