Max Allan Collins

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Max Allan Collins
Max Allan Collins early in his career (1982)
Max Allan Collins early in his career (1982)
Born (1948-03-03) March 3, 1948 (age 74)
Muscatine, Iowa, U.S.
Pen nameBarbara Allan, Patrick Culhane
GenreMystery in the following media: novels, screenplays, comic books, comic strips, short stories, and historical fiction.
Notable awardsInkpot Award 1982
Shamus Award 1984 and 1992
SpouseBarbara Collins

Max Allan Collins (born March 3, 1948) is an American mystery writer, noted for his graphic novels. His work has been published in several formats and his Road to Perdition series was the basis for a film of the same name. He wrote the Dick Tracy newspaper strip for many years and has produced numerous novels featuring the character as well.


Writing career[edit]

Collins has written novels, screenplays, comic books, comic strips, trading cards, short stories, movie novelizations and historical fiction. He wrote the graphic novel Road to Perdition (which was developed into a film in 2002), created the comic book private eye Ms. Tree,[1] and took over writing the Dick Tracy comic strip from creator Chester Gould.[2] Collins briefly wrote the Batman comic book in 1987 and crafted a new origin for the Jason Todd character.[3] Collins and artist Terry Beatty created Wild Dog at DC that same year in a self-titled limited series. The character later appeared as a feature in the Action Comics Weekly anthology.[4] As of 2016, Wild Dog became a recurring character in the Arrow television series and is portrayed by actor Rick Gonzalez.[5]

Another Collins contribution to the Batman franchise was scripting the English-language translation of Batman: Child of Dreams in 2003.[6] He wrote books to expand on the Dark Angel TV series. He has written books and comics based on the TV series franchise CSI. In 2006 he wrote Buried Deep (also released as "Bones Buried Deep"), based on the TV series Bones.[7]

He has written two sequel novels to Road to Perdition: Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise. He wrote three more graphic novels starring the characters from Road to Perdition. These graphic novels, called collectively On the Road to Perdition, form the basis of the film.[8]

He co-founded the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers with Lee Goldberg.[9] The IAMTW is an organization for writers of tie-ins and novelizations.[10]

Collins studied in the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.[11]

Collins is a fan of the mystery writer Mickey Spillane from childhood and later became friends with him. The two collaborated on a comic book series in the 1990s called Mike Danger. Upon Spillane's death in 2006, Collins was entrusted to finish several uncompleted works by Spillane including Dead Street, The Goliath Bone, and The Big Bang.[12]

In 2021, he and Canadian actor/writer Dave Thomas teamed to write the sci-fi mystery novel, The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton. [13]

Movies and music[edit]

In addition to his work as a writer, Collins has written and directed four movies: Mommy, Mommy 2: Mommy's Day, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, and Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life (based on his Edgar Award–nominated play).[7] All four were produced independently on location in Collins' hometown of Muscatine, Iowa. The first three are available on DVD — separately or in the Black Box set — from Troma Team Video, and the Ness film is distributed by VCI Entertainment. The DVD release of 'Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market' being notable for being one of the first films to take advantage of the multi-angle feature on DVD players, thus giving viewers the opportunity to watch the story unfold from different viewpoints.

Collins has written and performed music with his rock band, Crusin'.[14]

Political views[edit]

Collins is a Democrat, describing his political views thus: "I think of myself as slightly left of center, but my father thought of himself as slightly right of center, when he was slightly right of Genghis Khan. So who knows? I do know that I veer left when the right is getting out of hand, which they frequently do."[15]

Personal life[edit]

Collins and his wife, Barbara, have a son, Nathan.[7]


Collins received an Inkpot Award in 1982.[16] He won the Shamus Award in 1984 and 1992.[17]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Collins with Leslie Nielsen in 1982

Quarry series[edit]

This series features a former U.S. Marine sniper turned professional assassin after returning from the Vietnam War in 1973.

  • Quarry (a.k.a. The Broker) (1976, reissued 2015)
  • Quarry's List (a.k.a. The Broker's Wife) (1976, reissued 2015)
  • Quarry's Deal (a.k.a. The Dealer) (1976, reissued 2016)
  • Quarry's Cut (a.k.a. The Slasher) (1977, reissued 2016)
  • Quarry's Vote (a.k.a. Primary Target) (1987, reissued 2016)
  • Quarry's Greatest Hits (contains 'Primary Target' and a short story) (2003)
  • The Last Quarry (2006)
  • The First Quarry (2008)
  • Quarry In The Middle (2009)
  • Quarry's Ex (2010)
  • The Wrong Quarry (2014)
  • Quarry's Choice (2015)
  • Quarry In The Black (2016)
  • Quarry's Climax (2017)
  • Killing Quarry (2019)
  • Quarry's Blood (2022)

Cinemax has created a TV adaptation of Quarry. Written by Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy based loosely on the book series, the project centers on a Marine marksman who, upon returning home from Vietnam in 1972, finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonized by the public. The disillusioned vet is quickly recruited into a network of contract killers and corruption spanning the Mississippi River.[18][19] The show was cancelled in May 2017.[20]

Nolan series[edit]

This series features a professional thief, similar to and apparently inspired by Richard Stark's "Parker" character, who operates in the Midwest.

  • Bait Money (1981)
  • Blood Money (1981)
  • Fly Paper (1981)
  • Hush Money (1981)
  • Hard Cash (1981)
  • Scratch Fever (1982)
  • Spree (1987)
  • Mourn the Living (1999) Collins's first written novel, but not published until 1999)
  • Two for the Money (omnibus reprint of the first two books Bait Money and Blood Money) (2004)
  • Skim Deep (2020)
  • Double Down (omnibus reprint of the third and fourth books Fly Paper and Hush Money) (2021)
  • Tough Tender (omnibus reprint of the fifth and sixth books Hard Cash and Scratch Fever) (2022)
  • Mad Money (omnibus reprint of the seventh and eighth books Spree and Mourn the Living) (2023)

Mallory series[edit]

The Mallory series is about a mystery writer in Iowa who solves crimes.

  • The Baby Blue Rip-Off (1983)
  • No Cure for Death (1983)
  • Kill Your Darlings (1984)
  • A Shroud for Aquarius (1985)
  • Nice Weekend for a Murder (1986)

Nathan Heller series[edit]

Collins' longest running series and arguably his best known work is his Nathan Heller series. Heller is a Chicago private investigator who gets involved in famous crimes and meets famous people of the 1930s and 1940s, including Orson Welles, Frank Nitti, and Sally Rand. The first novel in this historical fiction series, True Detective, won the 1984 Shamus Award for Best P.I. Hardcover from the Private Eye Writers of America. Collins won his second Shamus in 1992 for the Heller novel Stolen Away,[17] an account of the Lindbergh kidnapping. His 1999 novel Flying Blind sees Heller investigate the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, along the way becoming romantically involved with her. With the release of Chicago Confidential, Collins moved the action into the 1950s. Target Lancer, about an alleged attempt to assassinate John F. Kennedy in Chicago just weeks before the actual assassination in Dallas, was published in November 2012.

  • True Detective (November 1983)
  • True Crime (December 1984)
  • The Million-Dollar Wound (February 1986)
  • Neon Mirage (February 1988)
  • Stolen Away (May 1991)
  • Dying in the Post-War World (October 1991) – Novella
  • Carnal Hours (April 1994) (about Harry Oakes' murder)
  • Blood and Thunder (August 1995) (about Huey Long's assassination)
  • Damned in Paradise (October 1996)
  • Flying Blind (August 1998)
  • Majic Man (September 1999)
  • Angel in Black (March 2001)
  • Kisses of Death: A Nathan Heller Casebook (Crippen & Landru, June 2001) – Short story collection
  • Chicago Confidential (June 2002)
  • Bye Bye, Baby (August 2011)
  • Chicago Lightning: The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories (October 2011)
  • Triple Play: A Nathan Heller Casebook (April 2012) – Includes "Dying in the Post-War World", "Kisses of Death", and "Strike Zone"
  • Target Lancer (November 2012)
  • Ask Not (2013)
  • Better Dead (2016)
  • Do No Harm (2020)

Eliot Ness series[edit]

This series of novels is about real life Untouchable Eliot Ness's career as Director of Public Safety in Cleveland.

  • The Dark City (1987)
  • Butcher's Dozen (1988)
  • Bullet Proof (1989)
  • Murder by the Numbers (1993)
  • An Eliot Ness Mystery Omnibus (2020) - contains all four novels in one volume

Dick Tracy series[edit]

  • Dick Tracy (May 1990), film novelization
  • Dick Tracy: The Secret Files (June 1990), Editor (with Martin H. Greenberg), also contains short story Not a Creature Was Stirring
  • Dick Tracy and the Nightmare Machine with Dick Locher (January 1991) – comic strip collection
  • Dick Tracy Goes to War (February 1991) – novel
  • Dick Tracy Meets His Match (February 1992) – novel
  • Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles Volume 1 (October 2003) – comic strip collection
  • Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles Volume 2 (October 2004) – comic strip collection
  • Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles Volume 3 (January 2005)- comic strip collection


Road to Perdition series[edit]

Title Author Release Date
Road to Perdition Max Allan Collins with Richard Piers Rayner June 1998
Road to Perdition Movie tie-in novel Max Allan Collins June 2002
On the Road to Perdition Book 1: Oasis Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Josef Rubinstein May 2003
On the Road to Perdition Book 2: Sanctuary Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber December 2003
On the Road to Perdition Book 3: Detour Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber July 2004
Road to Perdition: On the Road (*) Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Josef Rubinstein/Steve Lieber December 2004
Road to Purgatory Max Allan Collins December 2004
Road to Paradise Max Allan Collins December 2005
Return to Perdition Max Allan Collins August 2011[21]
Road to Perdition: The New Expanded Edition (Novel) Max Allan Collins November 2016[22]

(*) Note: Road to Perdition: On the Road, is a single-volume collection of On the Road to Perdition Books 1–3.

Disaster series[edit]

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation novels[edit]

Title Author Release Date
Double Dealer Max Allan Collins November 2001
Sin City Max Allan Collins October 2002
Cold Burn Max Allan Collins April 2003
Body of Evidence Max Allan Collins November 2003
Grave Matters Max Allan Collins October 2004
Binding Ties Max Allan Collins April 2005
Killing Game Max Allan Collins November 2005
Snake Eyes Max Allan Collins September 2006
Mortal Wounds * Max Allan Collins October 2006
  • Note: Mortal Wounds, is a trade paperback omnibus which collects Double Dealer, Sin City, and Cold Burn into a single volume.

CSI: Miami novels[edit]

Title Author Release Date
Florida Getaway Max Allan Collins August 1, 2003
Heat Wave Max Allan Collins July 5, 2004
Exotic Racing Bombers Of Death Max Allan Collins June 19, 2003

Criminal Minds novels[edit]

Title Author Release Date
Jump Cut Max Allan Collins November 6, 2007
Killer Profile Max Allan Collins May 6, 2008
Finishing School Max Allan Collins November 4, 2008

Jack & Maggie Starr series[edit]

A mystery series set in and around the American comic book industry during the tail end of the Golden Age of Comic Books

J.C. Harrow Series[edit]

  • You Can't Stop Me (2010)
  • No One Will Hear You(2011)

Other television novels[edit]

With Mickey Spillane[edit]

  • Dead Street (2007)
  • The Goliath Bone (2008) - Mike Hammer
  • The Big Switch - (2009) - Mike Hammer short story
  • The Big Bang (2010) - Mike Hammer
  • A Long Time Dead (2010) - Mike Hammer short story
  • Grave Matter (2010) - Mike Hammer short story in Crimes By Moonlight
  • Kiss Her Goodbye (2011) - Mike Hammer
  • The Consummata (2011)
  • Lady, Go Die! (2012) - Mike Hammer
  • Skin (2012) - Mike Hammer e-book short story
  • Complex 90 (2013) - Mike Hammer
  • So Long, Chief (2013) - Mike Hammer short story
  • King of the Weeds (2014) - Mike Hammer
  • It's in the Book (2014) - Mike Hammer e-book short story
  • Kill Me, Darling (2015) - Mike Hammer
  • Fallout (2015) - Mike Hammer short story
  • The Legend of Caleb York (2015)
  • Murder Never Knocks (2016) - Mike Hammer
  • A Dangerous Cat (2016) - Mike Hammer short story
  • The Big Showdown (2016) - A Caleb York story
  • A Long Time Dead: A Mike Hammer Casebook (2016) - reprints Mike Hammer short stories and e-book short stories
  • The Will To Kill (2017) - Mike Hammer
  • The Bloody Spur (2018) - A Caleb York story
  • Killing Town (2018) - Mike Hammer
  • Murder, My Love (2019) - Mike Hammer
  • Masquerade for Murder (2020) - Mike Hammer

Writing as Barbara Allan (with wife Barbara Collins): Trash 'n' Treasure series[edit]

  • Antiques Roadkill (August 2006)
  • Antiques Maul (August 2007)
  • Antiques Flee Market (September 2008)
  • Antiques Bizarre (March 2010)
  • Antiques Knock-Off (March 2011)
  • Antiques Disposal (May 2012)
  • Antiques Chop (May 2013)
  • Antiques Con (May 2014)
  • Antiques Swap (May 2015)
  • Antiques Fate (May 2016)

Other Barbara Allan books[edit]

  • Regeneration (1999)
  • Murder: His and Hers (2001)
  • Bombshell (2004)

Writing as Patrick Culhane[edit]


  • Midnight Haul (1986)
  • Mommy (1997)
  • Mommy's Day (1998)
  • Protect and Defend (1992)
  • Blue Christmas and other Holiday Homicides (2001) - short story collection
  • Tales of the Slayer (2002) - co-author, short story collection
  • My Lolita Complex (2006) - short story collection
  • Deadly Beloved - A Ms. Tree Novel (See Comics Section) (2007)
  • What Doesn't Kill Her (2013)
  • Early Crimes (2013)
  • Supreme Justice (2014)
  • Fate of the Union (2015)
  • Murderlized (2020) with Matthew V. Clemens, 11 short stories
  • Shoot the Moon (and More) (2021) unpublished crime novel (written in 1974) and two short stories
  • Reincarnal & Other Dark Tales (2021) stort stories
  • The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton (2021) with Dave Thomas



  • A-V in 3-D #1 (1984)
  • Ms. Tree #10–18 (1984–1985)

AiT/Planet Lar[edit]

Big Entertainment/Tekno Comix[edit]

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

  • Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor #1 (1995)
  • Johnny Dynamite #1–4 (1994)

DC Comics[edit]

  • Action Comics Weekly #601–609, 615–622, 636–641 (1988–1989)
  • Batman #402–403, #408–412, Annual #11 (1986–1987)
  • Batman: Child of Dreams (2003)
  • Batman: Scar of the Bat #1 (1996)
  • Ms. Tree Quarterly #1–8 (1990–1992)
  • Ms. Tree Special #9–10 (1992–1993)
  • On the Road to Perdition: Detour (2004)
  • On the Road to Perdition: Oasis (2003)
  • On the Road to Perdition: Sanctuary (2004)
  • Road to Perdition (1998)
  • Who's Who in the DC Universe #10 (1991)
  • Wild Dog #1–4, Special #1 (1987–1989)
  • Wild Times: Grifter #1 (1999)

Eclipse Comics[edit]

  • Eclipse Magazine #1–6 (1981–1982)
  • Ms. Tree #4–9 (1983–1984)
  • Ms. Tree's Thrilling Detective Adventures #1–3 (1983)

First Comics[edit]

  • Grimjack #11 (1985)
  • P.I.'s: Michael Mauser and Ms. Tree #1–3 (1985)

IDW Publishing[edit]

  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation #1–5 (2003)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Bad Rap #1–5 (2003)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Demon House #1–5 (2004)
  • CSI: NY - Bloody Murder #1–5 (2005)

Marvel Comics[edit]

Renegade Press[edit]

  • Ms. Tree #19–50 (1985–1989)
  • Ms. Tree Summer Special #1 (1986)
  • Ms. Tree's 1950's Three–Dimensional Crime #1 (1987)
  • Ms. Tree 3-D #1 (1985)

Titan Comics[edit]

  • Quarry's War


  1. ^ Markstein, Don (2009). "Ms. Tree". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Collins teamed with artist Terry Beatty to introduce Ms. Tree in the first issue of Eclipse Magazine (May, 1981).
  2. ^ Collins, Max Allan; Gould, Chester (2003). Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles, Volume 1. Miamisburg, Ohio: Checker Book Publishing Group. p. 5. ISBN 0-9741664-2-1.
  3. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1980s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 167. ISBN 978-1465424563. Jason Todd's origin had been a virtual carbon copy of Dick Grayson's. However, with the clean slate offered by Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer Max Allan Collins decided to make the characters more different. {{cite book}}: |first2= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ Martin, Brian (August 2017). "Where the Action is...Weekly". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (98): 64.
  5. ^ Damore, Meagan (April 13, 2017). "Arrow: Wild Dog & Black Canary Upped to Series Regulars for Season 6". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Wild Dog was introduced at the beginning of Arrow Season 5.
  6. ^ Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 266: "Translated into English by a voice familiar with chronicling Bruce Wayne's adventures, writer Max Allan Collins, this epic story followed a Japanese reporter...who traveled to Gotham City."
  7. ^ a b c "Biography". The Official FOMAC Website. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (October 14, 2011). "Max Allan Collins Says 'Road To Perdition' Sequel Still Happening; Talks Beatty's 'Dick Tracy' Doc". IndieWire. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "International Association of Media Tie-in Writers". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015.
  10. ^ "About the IAMTW". International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "Max Allan Collins a 2017 Grand Master of Mystery Writing". Iowa Writers' Workshop. March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "A Conversation With Max Allan Collins On Graphic Novel "The Night I Died"". Mystery Tribune. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  13. ^ "Dave Thomas and Max Allan Collins take mystery to the multiverse". Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  14. ^ Kuhlenbeck, Mike (November 19, 2015). "Psychedelic Siren: Crusin' with Max Allan Collins and The Daybreakers". Iowa Free Press. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Crusin’s lead singer and keyboardist Max Allan Collins is better known to fans as a prolific author of novels, short stories and comic books.
  15. ^ Collins, Max Allan (February 2, 2010). "Collins Hits The Third Rail". Archived from the original on April 18, 2015.
  16. ^ "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  17. ^ a b "Shamus Award Winners". The Private Eye Writers of America. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 3, 2013). "Cinemax Orders Contract Killer Drama Pilot Based On Max Allan Collins' Quarry Books". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "Pilot Scoop: Cinemax Orders 1970s Drama Quarry". TV News Today. April 5, 2013. Archived from the original on September 17, 2013.
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 31, 2017). "'Quarry' Canceled By Cinemax After One Season". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  21. ^ "Return to Perdition". Vertigo. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  22. ^ Breen, Jon L. (2017). "The Jury Box". Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017.

External links[edit]