Max Allan Collins is probably one of the best mystery writers who's never really broken out from the pack, and wound up on bestseller lists regularly, like Sue Grafton or Robert B. Parker. He's sort of the king of the also-rans. It's not really a bad place to be, though. He's best known (perhaps) for writing novelizations of movies and TV shows (he did all the CSI books, and Saving Private Ryan, among others) and for writing Road to Perdition, which was made into the Paul Newman/Tom Hanks movie of a couple of years ago.
That being said, among mystery fans he's known for something else. He's been writing the Nathan Heller novels for maybe 20 years now (his son is actually named Nathan in real life) and they're clearly what he enjoys doing the most. The character is a hoot, bedding women right and left, shooting bad guys with considerable skill, and solving every mystery imaginable from the middle of the last century. There's the suspension-of-disbelief factor that I've mentioned before: it takes a bit of an imagination to believe in a character who's involved in all of these different crimes, and solves them all. Once you're over that, they're very entertaining and fun.
In the current installment, the year is 1950, and Heller's in LA hiding from the Kefauver commitee, which is exploring organized crime in America. The Mafia, of course, doesn't officially exist, courtesy of executive fiat from Director Hoover of the FBI. Heller knows better, of course, but he doesn't want to testify, because as he puts it, he knows where the bodies are buried, and in some cases helped bury them. So he's hiding in LA, but he has to return to Chicago to get one of his employees out of trouble, and that starts things going.
There isn't the single high-profile crime here that there is in many of his other books. He's done several like this before, where what murders there are don't measure up, and I don't think it hurts things that much, to tell you the truth. The story has more than enough historical characters and flavor, and the action is intelligent and fun. I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it.