Bye Bye, Baby (The Memoirs of Nathan Heller)
by Max Allan Collins
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321794
Date: 16 August 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author Website / Show Official Info /
Bye Bye, Baby is a fun story to read. It takes place in the early 1960s and features private detective Nate Heller. Heller has a colorful past. Starting as a Chicago policeman and evolving into the "detective for the stars". He has famous clients, ranging from movie stars to mob bosses to presidents. In Bye Bye Baby he is hired by long-time friend, Marilyn Monroe, to do some wiretapping for her because she expects she is being spied upon.
The first third of the book is Nate interacting with Marilyn (yes, including sexually). It shows a different Marilyn than her legacy portrays, and Nate notes often that she is in control of her life and her career, free from drugs, but still in a relationship with both President Kennedy and his brother Bobby. Nate honestly likes Marilyn and has her best interests at heart and tries to convince her to concentrate on her career rather than her personal life. At about the 1/3 point of the book, Marilyn is found dead and the death is ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles Police. Nate does not believe that, and heads out on an investigation of his own to determine the truth.
Bye Bye, Baby is fun to read. It is a glimpse into all the legendary persons of the era, Frank Sinatra, President Kennedy, and mob bosses like Sam Giancana and Jimmy Hoffa. In Bye Bye, Baby, Marilyn's legendary affair with President Kennedy is fact and not legend. Jack's brother Bobby is also her lover, which I had never heard through the gossip rails.
Nate Heller continually gets into trouble with warnings, sometimes physical, by the LA police the FBI, the CIA and the Whitehouse. All of that makes the story fun. The story is told in narrative style by Nate Heller, and reminds me of a cross between a noir style and a Humphrey Bogart detective movie. Nate has a great sense of humor which he expresses through his words in the narrative. He is also obsessed with clothes. He always says what he is wearing, chinos, keds, polo shirts, etc and says what the others around him are wearing. I donít know if that is characteristic of the sixties or just Nate Heller, but it is interesting.
This is the first of the Nate Heller series that I have read. Author Max Allan Collins has many Nate Heller books and I would love to read more. I had no problem following the plot even thought this is a serial novel. Heller talks about his past clients and his past detective jobs, but it is not necessary to have read the previous books to follow this one. Often, the stories about the past add to the humor in Hellerís narratives.
Bye Bye, Baby is highly recommended. Read it and enjoy.