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: 978-1-61218-089-2

To Mike Wynne —

who suggested this flight

of fancy and fact

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.

“I think it’s too bad when aviation movies depend for their excitement on plane wrecks and lost fliers and all that sort of thing. Perhaps that’s good drama but it certainly isn’t modern aviation.”

—Amelia Earhart



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

Chapter 18

Chapter 19


Chapter 20




The press called her “Lady Lindy,” but her family called her Mill. Schoolgirl pals preferred Meelie, certain friends Mary (Fred Noonan among them), she was Paul Mantz’s “angel,” and her husband used “A. E.” To the world she was Amelia Earhart, but to me, and only me, she was Amy.

I hadn’t thought of her in a long time, at least a week, when that damned Texan came around, stirring memories. For all the mentions of her in the media, even after so many years—some screwball was always mounting an expedition to “find her”—I’d managed to keep her real in my mind, not just a famous name, not just a “historical enigma” (as Leonard Nimoy called her on some silly TV show), always a person, a friend, someone I missed, with that bittersweet kind of longing you feel more and more, the older you get.

Old age is a combination, after all, of hard and soft, a senile sundae of cynicism and sentimentality, with much of your time spent reading, both aloud and silently, from a laundry list of bastards and sweethearts you spent a lifetime compiling. And not all of the sweethearts were women, and not all of the bastards were men.

My wife—my second wife, the marriage that took—and I had not given up our home in suburban Chicago, yet; I was telling people I was “semi-retired” from the A-1 Detective Agency, lying to myself that I was still in charge. I was still in charge like a brain-dead billionaire on life support is still in charge of his finances.

But at age sixty-four (with sixty-five a few months away), I didn’t need to work. My one-room agency in Barney Ross’s old building on the corner of Van Buren and Plymouth, established in 1932, had turned into suites of offices in six cities now, not to mention two floors of the Monadnock Building. I wasn’t the President of the A-1 anymore, but Chairman of the Board. We no longer did divorce work; our specialties were “anti-industrial espionage” and “security consultation.” I had become so successful, I didn’t recognize my own business.

So when the Texan came calling, I was still kidding myself that I was only “wintering” in Florida. We had a nice little rambling three-bedroom ranch-style on a waterway where we could sit and watch boats glide by, first in one direction, then the other, sometimes chased by water skiers, some of whom were pretty young girls. We could have had an oceanfront place, giving my tired old randy eyes even more ready access to sweet young things in skimpy

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