Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bye Bye Baby by Max Allan Collins

Bye Bye Baby is another great novel in the Nathan Heller series by Max Allan Collins. When we first met Nathan Heller in True Detective it was the early 1930s. Through the years he has worked a lot of famous cases. Now he is on the scene with the lovely, vivacious Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn is an old friend and calls Nathan to help her with a little job. She wants her phone bugged. She is having a lot of trouble with her studio, Fox, and she wants to protect herself. Heller’s favor for a friend turns into much more. This book reads like a Who’s Who from the period. Heller deals with Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner, John and Robert Kennedy, and many others.

One of Collins’ strengths is his ability to throw lots of celebrities into a book without stretching too much credulity. Of course Heller has to bed Marilyn and at least two other women. This should surprise no one who has read the Heller novels. Heller falls into the category of men who have slept with both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. If the book is to be believed then he shares that honor with the Kennedy boys.

Bye Bye Baby is a sympathetic look at Monroe. She is truly a tragic figure and her treatment at the hands of the movie studios and the Kennedy brothers was shameful. Collins tries, and succeeds, to navigate his way in this book between the pro and anti Kennedy camps. Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the real humanity of the characters. That is one of the trademarks of the Heller novels. The celebrities are not just here to catch our interest, they have a realness about them. So who killed Marilyn Monroe? Was it suicide, an accidental overdose, the Kennedys, or someone else. You will just have to get the book and find out.

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