Deadly Beloved (Hard Case Crime #38) - Max Allan Collins Been on a Max Allan Collins kick for light reading lately. This was a Hard Case Crime paperback original, featuring Mrs. Michael (yes, Michael) Tree, who is now running a Chicago detective agency following the death of her partner-in-the-firm husband. This was first published in 2007 and is a clear attempt to emulate the noir of the fifties. While it's an engaging story, Collins doesn't quite pull it off. It doesn't have the edge of nastiness and gloom so indicative of Cain and Thompson. In the end notes, Collins describes the history and genesis of the series, locating the long-running comic series in the same category as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and Velda. Perhaps, I haven't read much Spillane to comment. Apparently, Collins first invented Ms Tree for a comic series begun in 1980. I much prefer his Heller and Quarry books.

The premise is interesting. The local homicide dick wants Michael to look into an apparently open-and-shut case: a woman shoots her husband and his hooker companion in a motel bedroom. Something doesn't seem right to the cop but he has other more pressing matters. The autopsy reveals "roofies" in the victim's blood - not the hooker's, but the husband's. Michael -- and the reader -- is immediately intrigued. Was the mob's "event planner" (read sophisticated hit man - shades of Quarry) involved?

Still, an engaging read, if some of he ends aren't quite tied together.