NAL, Mar 2001, 21.95, 339 pp.
In January 1947, Nate Heller is in Los Angles combining business with pleasure. He is there opening the West Coast office of his Chicago-based A-1 Detective Agency with new partner Fred Rubinksi. Nate is also on his honeymoon with his wife of one-month Peggy.
However, Nate accompanied by reporter Bill Fowley come across a brutalized body of a beautiful young woman. Nate says nothing to Bill or the police when they arrive, but he recognizes the victim as his former Chicago girl friend Elizabeth “Beth” Short, who just called him a few days ago to tell him she was probably pregnant. She asked to see him, but Nate fearing for his marriage, never met Beth. Now, feeling a bit guilty and worrying about a murder sentence, Nate quietly investigates the killing of the “Black Dahlia” that rocks more than just Hollywood.
The Nate Heller historical mysteries are some of the best novels the sub-genre has to offer. The latest tale, ANGEL IN BLACK, is a fascinating recounting of the infamous Black Dahlia murder case as only Max Allan Collins could tell it. Nate retains his self-deprecating humor that makes him seem so real. However, this mystery as well as the previous ten stories in this series belongs to a bygone era that seems in many ways so ancient (sorry boomers, but we are an aging workforce), but comes so vividly alive at the hands of a master craftsman.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner