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I've been a house painter, dishwasher, broiler cook, private detective, military intelligence analyst, and I spent nearly 40 years as a reporter covering crime, 26 of them for the San Francisco Chronicle. These days I write science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime fiction, and I blog about books, films and crimes that don't receive sufficient attention from the mainstream media. I would like to be Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett or George V. Higgins, but all of them are dead so I'll just stick with what I am already doing. . .

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cop and Victim of Killer-Rapist Team Up in Max Allen Collins's Latest Thriller

What Doesn't Kill Her
By Max Allen Collins
266 pages
ISBN: 1612185290
(Thomas & Mercer, September 17, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Jordan Rivera's parents and brother are brutally murdered as she looks on, helplessly. Then the killer piles insult on injury by raping Jordan brutally.

The experience is extraordinarily traumatic. The teenage girl spends the next decade in a Cleveland mental facility, marking time in silence as she waits for the killer to strike again.

She knows he will, eventually; he as much as told her so while he was sexually assaulting her.

Jordan might have remained in the mental institution where she was locked up if she had not seen a television news report on a mass murder similar to the one that took her family. But Jordan wants revenge and the only way to get it is by getting back out on the street to confront the killer. And that means facing a frightening new world that in some ways has left her behind.

As she vegetates in the psychiatric clinic, Jordan's classmate Mark Pryor nurses the secret crush he had on her in high school. Her victimization inspires him to become a police detective. As a rookie investigator, he goes over the evidence from the horrific crime that robbed her of her youth and closest kin, conducting his own private probe of the murders and rape and concluding that a gymnastic coach she once took classes from is the architect of her misery.

His theory turns out to be wrong. But it leads him to the actual murderer, a psychopath whose bizarre religious beliefs have compelled him to kill those he considers impure, and sets up the final confrontation between Jordan and the man who stole her family and childhood innocence.

Author Max Allan Collins has crafted a fast-paced satisfying thriller in "What Doesn't Kill Her."

Max Collins, the author of this nicely paced, well-plotted thriller, is perhaps best known as the writer who became friends with Mickey Spillane toward the end of his life, served as literary executor of Spillane's estate and finished several of the Mickster's  novels, including The Big Bang, TheConsummata and the Mike Hammer stories Lady, Go Die!, and The Goliath Bone.

But Collins is a prolific writer under his own byline, author of 47 novels including the Nathan Heller series, creator of the Ms. Tree comic book and the graphic novel The Road to Perdition, which formed the basis of a film starring Paul Newman and Tom Hanks.

In What Doesn't Kill Her he has crafted a solid murder tale that features a memorable heroine. 

The identity of the killer will probably quickly be identified by any reader who is familiar with the genre, but the novel's denouement is satisfying despite this weakness.

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