The Memoirs of Nathan Heller

True Detective

True Crime

The Million-Dollar Wound

Neon Mirage

Stolen Away

Carnal Hours

Blood and Thunder

Damned in Paradise

Flying Blind

Majic Man

Angel in Black

Chicago Confidential

Bye Bye Baby

Chicago Lightning (short stories)

Triple Play (novellas)

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text copyright ©2011 Max Allan Collins

All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by AmazonEncore

P.O. Box 400818

Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN: 978-1-61218-094-6

For Gary Warren Niebuhr


Ted Hertel,

neither of whom is in this book.


Although the historical incidents in this novel are portrayed more or less accurately (as much as the passage of time, and contradictory source material, will allow), fact, speculation, and fiction are freely mixed here; historical personages exist side by side with composite characters and wholly fictional ones—all of whom act and speak at the author’s whim.

“Chicago is the heaven and haven

of mobsters, gamblers, thieves, killers,

and salesmen of every human sin.”

—Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer

“The Mafia is no fairy tale. It is ominously

real, and it has scarred the face of America.”

—Senator Estes Kefauver

“Murder is the essence of Chicago,

just as blackmail is the essence of Hollywood.”

—Florabel Muir


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

I Owe Them One

About the Author

In Chicago the price is up front, at least, if nonnegotiable. In Hollywood, you don’t even know what you’re buying—just that somewhere beneath the tinsel, down under the layers of phoniness, there’s going to be a price tag.

Maybe that was why this girl Vera Palmer was so refreshing. She still had a wholesome, smalltown, peaches- and-cream glow, for one thing; and for another, she wasn’t even a starlet, just a college girl, out at UCLA. The shimmering brunette pageboy, the heart-shaped face, the full dark red-rouged lips, the wide, wide-set hazel eyes, the impossible wasp waist, the startling flaring hips and the amazing full breasts riding her rib cage like twin torpedoes, had nothing to do with it.

“Mr. Heller, I’m afraid of Paul,” she said. Her voice was breathy yet musical—something of Betty Boop, quite a bit of the young Shirley Temple. A hint of Southern accent was stirred in there, too, despite her best efforts.

She was sitting across from my desk in a cubicle of the A-1 Detective Agency in a suite of offices on the fifth floor of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, California. It was mid-September 1950—the air conditioners were shut off, and the breeze through the half-open windows was crisp as an icy Coke. The girls were wearing their skirts long, but the way this one’s shapely legs were crossed under pleated light blue rayon, plenty of calf and even some knee was exposed. Her blouse was the same powder blue with navy trimmings: gaucho collar, edged short sleeves and slot pocket; her elaborately brassiered breasts punched at the light fabric like shells almost breaching a submarine’s hull.

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