Thursday, December 6, 2007

Deadly Beloved (Ms. Tree) by Max Allan Collins

This novel reads like a comic book and that’s no surprise, because it used to be one. It’s very fast-paced, straight forward, frequently larger than life and over the top, colorful and violent. Max Allan Collins takes his PI Ms. Tree (hardboiled female PI before there was a Warshawski or Milhone) from comics to prose in a Hard Case Crime original that I really enjoyed.
A woman kills her husband when he catches him in bed with another woman. A lot doesn’t add up though and it seems after Ms. Tree investigates it’s a setup. Ms. Tree discovers a link to the murder of her own husband and a sinister assassin they call The Event Planner. The framing sequence where Ms. Tree tells the whole story to a shrink we’ve seen before, but it works well.
I’m a fan of the comic book series and was delighted to see Ms. Tree back in action, with a cover painting by art. Springing from the question ‘What if Mike Hammer died and his Girl Friday would avenge him’ she’s the same kickass character from the comics. All familiar faces return, true to form. The revised origin works perfectly and there’s a very modern setting that I enjoyed. Therefore I hope Ms. Tree will return, guns blazing and ball-busting as before. If you’re into deep, genre-breaking stuff you can ignore this one. If you love Mike Hammer, comics and a fast-paced story you can’t miss this one.

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