Neon Mirage is Nate Heller's 1945-46 account of his imagined Bugsy Siegel case, and it keeps up the entertainment standard of the first three Heller novels. MAC does his usual noir historical fiction, interjecting his Zelig like Nate Heller into real life events with real bad guys, outsmarting most of them and coming out like a slightly battered rose.
Despite all the artifice, these Heller books work because the detective is so likeable, shrewd and the background is so beautifully woven into the detective story, it seems natural. This is some trick, and it is based on a tonne of research and hard work. Some of this tale stretches credibility to the breaking point - especially the romance with Peggy Hogan, whom our hero loves, gets jilted by and ends up marrying. But that's a small price to pay for so satisfying a tale. As usual, MAC resolves the mystery part of the story with panache, a fact most appreciated by this reader, who has seen it all before. He springs it on you and it's perfect.
You got to read all the Nathan Heller novels, you really do. This is where Bugsy Siegel comes alive and Las Vegas grows out of the desert. MAC's usual ear for dialogue, eye for detail, nose for historical verisimilitude, mind for accurate research... top stuff. Just top.
I'm working my way through all the Nate Heller novels and so far not one dud. I do like the way Max Allan Colins interweaves a fictional account in a factual backdrop, no one does it better. If you like Dashiel Hammett or Raymond Chandler these are the books or you.
Nathan Heller the ex cop running his own detective agency has now taken a job as bodyguard to a villain he kind of likes but that ends in a shoot up when both are travelling in a car and the villain is seriously wounded and in hospital. Nathan has a very strict security on him and only certain people are allowed on the same landing as him.the outcome is the villain dies. Nathan gets an offer to help another bad guy turned businessman who is setting up a large casino and hotel empire in Vegas and needs help with security, Nathan accepts and after doing a good job is asked to take the job permanently. The money is good but refuses and goes back to his own business.