The original novel in Max Allan Collins's series about professional thief Nolan. The death of a friend's daughter leads Nolan to a small Illinois college town where the mob has murderous rivals in the drug trade.
Says The Big Book of Noir: "There's nobody better at the American crime novel than Max Allan Collins."
Mourn the Living is the last Nolan novel to see print, but apparently the first to be written. It pre-dates the action of Bait Money by about 10 years.
Best book ever? No, but enough here to keep me more than happy.
Lone wolf, Nolan is a man with a price on his head after killing one of Chicago’s mob bosses. A debt to a former friend has him returning to Illinois to look into the death of Sid Tisor’s daughter, Irene. She thought she could fly from the roof of a building after taking LSD.
Irene was a student in the college town, which is ostensibly being run by George Franco, the misfit brother from the Chicago mob’s top family. Reluctantly, Nolan takes a look.
Drugs, drugs, more drugs, bent cops, hippies, a heroin addict and dealer, a frightened journalist, an incompetent and powerless mob boss, a mystery man pulling the strings and running the show, some New York hoods, a bit of love interest, a few bouts of fisticuffs, some gun play – some answers and a big suitcase full of cash and a pretty girl! Happy days.
It was interesting to see the origins of the series. A review I’ve read said this book was for Collins’ completists only and his writing get much better over the course of his career. ( It's not too shoddy here in my opinion.) In Collins own introduction he says this was written about 1967 or 1968 when he was an undergraduate.
I really enjoyed this one. I did guess one of the end of novel reveals, but kind of forgot about it until the reveal itself, which was a surprise. There’s not a tremendous amount of depth to the characters and the plot isn’t overly complex – but hey, I’m a fan.
4 from 5
My journey through the 8 Nolan books has me wanting to read more from Collins. So roll on the 11 or 12 book Quarry series. Quarry’s a hitman - so should be fun to follow.
The full series is as follows:
7. Spree (1987)
8. Mourn the Living (1988)
Max Allan Collins has his website/blog here.
Mourn the Living was bought for Kindle a year or two ago.