What did you think of this review?
Max Allan Collins: That wasn't intentional. I'm not a prolific short-story writer. I'm a novelist at heart, and these stories are all fairly long; little novels. Each one is a commitment--a lot of research goes into them. Like the novels, they're based on real cases.
Q: The stories mostly deal with little-known crimes, whereas the novels deal with some of the major mysteries of the 20th century: the Lindbergh kidnapping in Stolen Away, the Huey Long assassination in Blood and Thunder. Why look into these smaller, more obscure cases?
MAC: Well, that's the fun of it, isn't it? It shows Nate Heller in a different light. These are in fact the kind of cases that might have walked into a private eye's office in Chicago in the 1930s and '40s. And they're "small" only in the sense that they aren't well known. Some very famous names do appear--Eliot Ness is in two stories--and some of the gangsters are famous (or infamous, anyway). Frank Nitti and Mickey Cohen, for example.
Q: How did you find these lesser-known cases?
MAC: My longtime research associate, George Hagenauer, and I mostly scour vintage true-crime magazines. Then we do newspaper research and sometimes even visit the ...