Monday, September 23, 2013

Max Allan Collins ASK NOT


  On the day Jack Kennedy was killed, I was sitting home with my father watching TV and eating an early lunch. In an hour or so I'd be headed back to school. I was then a part-time college student and part-time bag boy at a supermarket. I was also intensely political and even more intensely a left wing labor Democrat. I'd walked dozens of picket lines from five years on and frequently traveled to Iowa City to hear many left speakers talk.
    As I recall my father and I watched each successive network Breaking News story with increasing disbelief. This was after all America. Things like this just didn't happen here. 
   Reading Max Allan Collins' latest Nathan Heller novel, ASK NOT, 
all my memories of that bloody day and night returned as if I was paging through a scrapbook of nightmares.  The rage, the sorrow, the impotence.

  ASK NOT is Collins' take on the suspicion many of us still feel after being lied to by the Warren Commission.
 And as Collins captures so well in this brilliant book, the suspicion that remains to this day. 
  The book teems with real people in the saga--everybody from the legendary including Robert Kennedy to most suspicious player of all, Jack Ruby. It is with no less a person than the late and controversial columnist Dororthy Kilgallen (here Flo Kilgore) that he joins forces to investigate the killing.
 Collins cleverly ties this book back to the previous Heller novel TARGET KILLING. In fact in a chilling scene Heller and his sixteen year old son are almost run down by someone from that novel.

   The consummate craftsman has once again moved in on the turf of the late Richard Condon in this powerful, rich and ultimately disturbing novel.   



Mathew Paust said...

I was on a flight from basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood to Ft. Devens in Mass. on that day. Our plane stopped in Philly to refuel, and an A.F. officer ran up shouting that Kennedy'd been shot. That was all he knew. We flew to Worcester and took a bus to Devens. As we drove through the town we stopped when we saw a newsboy hawking extras on a corner (only time I've ever seen that). Headline said Kennedy dead and the first few paragraphs described what was known then. About six paragraphs down the original story continued, telling us that "tomorrow the president would be speaking at the Trade Mart" etc. We were so stunned we left our papers on the floor of the bus when we arrived at Devens.

Here's a little riff on the Dallas mystery I wrote for NPR's 3-minute fiction contest some months ago. Didn't win, but you all might get a kick out of it. When the Buck Stops

Of course I will be reading Max Allen's new novel. Wouldn't miss it!

Peter L. Winkler said...

We weren't lied to by the Warren Commission. Oswald, acting alone, shot and killed President Kennedy. In the 50 years since the assassination, not one piece of solid, credible evidence supporting a conspiracy has ever been adduced by its proponents, despite hundreds of books, articles, and films.

Here's a superb website anyone interested in this subject should explore: