Table of Contents
PRAISE FOR MAX ALLAN COLLINS
“Collins’s blending of fact and fancy is masterful—there’s no better word for it. And his ability to sustain suspense, even when the outcome is known, is the mark of an exceptional storyteller.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Collins displays a compelling talent for flowing narrative and concise, believable dialogue.”—
“No one fictionalizes real-life mysteries better.”
The Armchair Detective
“An uncanny ability to blend fact and fiction.”
South Bend Tribune
“When it comes to exploring the rich possibilities of history in a way that holds and entertains the reader, nobody does it better than Max Allan Collins.”—John Lutz, author of
Chill of Night
“Probably no one except E. L. Doctorow in
has so successfully blended real characters and events with fictional ones. The versatile Collins is an excellent storyteller.”—
“The master of true-crime fiction.”—
“The author makes history come alive. . . . The details of life, the dialogue and the realities of living in London during wartime are meticulously set out for the reader. The nightly blackouts . . . make the perfect setting for criminal activities. The mystery [is] well crafted and quite interesting. . . . A new Collins novel is a treat for lovers of history and mystery alike.”
The Romance Readers Connection
“Entertaining . . . full of colorful characters . . . a stirring conclusion.”
Detroit Free Press
“Collins ably weaves a well-paced, closed-environment mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie. . . . [He] succeeds in . . . reimagining the
’s final voyage.”—
“Collins makes it sound as though it really happened.”
New York Daily News
“Collins does a fine job of insinuating a mystery into a world-famous disaster. . . . [He] manage[s] to raise plenty of goosebumps before the ship goes down for the count.”—
“[Collins’s] descriptions are so vivid and colorful that it’s like watching a movie . . . [and he] gives the reader a front row seat.”
Cozies, Capers & Crimes
BERKLEY PRIME CRIME TITLES BY MAX ALLAN COLLINS
THE TITANIC MURDERS
THE HINDENBURG MURDERS
THE PEARL HARBOR MURDERS
THE LUSITANIA MURDERS
THE LONDON BLITZ MURDERS
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER
A KILLING IN COMICS
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2007 by Max Allan Collins.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of
the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging
to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley Prime Crime trade paperback edition / May 2007
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Collins, Max Allan.
A killing in comics / Max Allan Collins.—Berkley Prime Crime trade pbk. ed.
eISBN : 978-0-425-21365-0
1. Comic books, strips, etc.—Authorship—Fiction. 2. Cartoonists—Fiction. 3. Manhattan
(New York, N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title.
IN MEMORY OF
THE SPIRIT OF COMICS
“They were a generation of boys who were never adolescents and yet whose fantasies and emotional lives were caught at the cusp of adolescence forever.”
Men of Tomorrow
. . .
and, in July of 1948, Manhattan is my town.
Sure, I have to share this island with a few million others, natives and tourists alike, many of whom sleep high up enough to enjoy a cool breeze off the Hudson, cut by boat whistles and the occasional police or fire siren. But if you don’t cliff-dwell, or if you’re a tourist who can’t afford a high-rise hotel, don’t sweat it—my town is air-conditioned, from the TV-rigged gin mills to the mink-lined nightspots.
For you outdoor types, I suggest spending a buck-fifty by cab from Times Square to any one of the stadium homes of our three major-league ball clubs. Boxing can be viewed under God’s starry ceiling, too—or inside and air-cooled, for you gentle souls, at Madison Square and lesser venues. And Central Park is free, at least before midnight.
Hungry? On the east side, try the Stork Club’s chicken
hamburger with tomato sauce a la Walter Winchell, served up with french-fried sweet potatoes and buttered green peas for not much more than what an average Peoria hotel room would stake you. Or if they won’t let you in at the Stork (which they probably won’t), stop at any Automat and slip in a coin and get back a real burger, quick and hot; or if you like your beef corned and maybe with a slice of Swiss, Reuben’s on East Fifty-eighth is the genuine kosher article.
On the west side, four-fifty at Jack Dempsey’s will get you a big sirloin steak with french-fried onions, baked potato and house salad; or three bucks, at the Strip Joint on Forty-second, just a block and a half off Broadway, will entitle you to the best NY strip steak in town with the same trimmings. (I recommend the latter, only in part because I have a piece of the action.)
Looking for a view? Try an ear-popper of an elevator ride to the observation deck of the Empire State or the Chrysler Building or maybe Radio City. This works for you depressed types, too—if the magnificence of the cityscape doesn’t get your mind off your woes, you can always take a header. That ride, at least, is still free in this man’s town.
Entertainment? Broadway serves up a dozen shows and, by mid-July, the flops have all flopped and the hits have all hit. I’d recommend Hank Fonda in
at the Alvin Theater and
High Button Shoes
with Phil Silvers at the Shubert, or maybe you might want to watch that kid Brando do his magnificent mumble in
A Streetcar Named Desire
, at the Ethel Barrymore, if you can land a ticket.
Shopping? I’d have to say Madison Avenue—it’s come on strong, the last decade or so, thanks to being situated between Fifth and Park avenues. More intimate shops can be found below Fifty-ninth, everything from flowers to pets, perfumes to paintings, millinery to luggage, period furniture to furniture period.
Now it’s pricey, but if you’re going to do any of the above, you might want to bunk in at New York’s unofficial palace, the Waldorf-Astoria—between Forty-ninth and Fiftieth streets, Park and Lexington avenues. The famous old Waldorf had to get out of the way of the Empire State, but the “new” hotel (1931) has the same old traditions, including Peacock Alley, the Empire Room and the Astor Gallery.
Even New Yorkers are wowed by the Waldorf. The massive limestone and light-brick building spans the tracks of the New York Central, lending privileged guests private railroad sidings. How the building avoids all that rattle and roar, you’ll have to ask Schultze and Weaver, who put the thing up—a sheer eighteen stories followed by a series of setbacks topped by twin chrome-crowned towers adding up to fifty stories, give or take.
The interior is impressive, natch—lobby a mile wide, mosaics depicting nude figures, yard after yard of marble and stone and rich wood and nickel bronze, with eighteenth-century English and Early American furnishings, and more paintings by more famous artists than most museums can manage. Two thousand staffers look after guests in as many rooms. But the really toney digs are reserved for the suites in the towers, strictly residential.
You may wonder how a mug like me would even know about such suites. But this story begins in one of them, and a life key to the tale ends there.