Mallory Books In Order

Publication Order of Mallory Books

The Baby Blue Rip-Off (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
No Cure for Death (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Kill Your Darlings (1984) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Shroud for Aquarius (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nice Weekend for a Murder (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Award winning author Max Allan Collins is an established writer behind multiple mystery books and series, including the widely acclaimed Mallory Series. Born in 1948, Collins, started as a comic writer before venturing into other genres like crime and mystery. The Iowa-based writer boasts of a whopping ten nominations for Private Eye Writers of America Shamus awards in mystery and thriller categories, two of which he won. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was establishing himself as a mystery writer at a time when he was famous for high quality comical writings. But he did so successfully with the Mallory Series that features the protagonist Mallory.

The first thing that is attractive about the series is its characters. Mallory is a bored ex-cop and Vietnam War veteran who is struggling to get by. The only thing happening in his life right now is his writing career, and even that is not going well at all. Then there is Sheriff Brennan. At first, he thinks that Mallory’s bid to investigate a murder is a terrible idea. In fact, he even tries to convince him not to get involved. But he soon discovers that Mallory is not your everyday writer because he has some investigative tricks up his sleeve. It is just a matter of time before he sends him out to investigate crimes despite the fact that Mallory is not an investigator by any measure. Other characters with supporting roles include Ginnie Mullen, Mallory’s high school friend. When she dies under mysterious circumstances (apparent suicide), Mallory is forced back into her life despite the fact that they had not been in touch for a very long time. Roscoe Kane and Dashiell Hammett are pretty interesting characters. Both are authors who are admired by Mallory. But the death of one and the apparent fraudulent nature of the other set the stage right for Mallory to go hunting for a counterfeiter and a murderer.

The first book of the Mallory Series, The Baby Blue Rip-Off, was first published in 1982. It introduces the protagonist, Iowa-based writer Mallory as well as other characters and also sets events in motion. After his writing career fails to take off, Mallory reluctantly takes up the job of delivering meals to elderly women who are housebound when his politically correct girlfriends convinces him to. At first, he doesn’t find it fun at all but he needs something constructive to do. Soon he discovers that hanging out with the old women is actually enjoyable as they get to tell him stories about Iowa’s history and their memories of the small town. Furthermore, they find him very charming. To him, nothing can spice his life up any more than that right now. Well, it is all fun and games until he finds one of his clients murdered. Exit boredom and enter anger. Mallory is so angry that he makes it a personal goal to deliver revenge to whoever committed the crime. Sheriff Brennan understands the risk that Mallory is putting himself in and tries to advise him not to get involved but the failed writer will have none of that. His quest for vengeance is too strong, but will he get what he wants this time round?

The second installation of the series, No Cure for Death, was published in 1983, just one year after the first. This time, a lovely blonde sets things in motion. Mallory and the woman are sitting on a bench at an Iowa bus stop when suddenly he notices a suspicious looking man approaching the pretty lady in an aggressive manner. The one-eyed thug features a scarred face and there is no doubt the woman is no match for the hoodlum. Mallory can no longer mind his business when things escalate quicker than he thought. Now he has to defend the woman; and he does so effectively with nothing more than his bare fists and a Pepsi bottle. The fight ends, the pretty lady is saved, and Mallory is a hero. But that is not their last meeting as soon she drops back into his life just after losing hers violently. Sheriff Brennan is keen on closing the case fast and goes with an accidental death theory but Mallory thinks there is more than meets the eye. Now whatever he does seems to be pulling the killer closer and closer to his doorstep. Soon he will realize that he has to stay alive long enough to solve the murder that has now become his latest obsession.

There is no doubt Max Allan Collins has an outstanding ability to handle sensitive issues like murder and romance with relative caution while still maintaining a high quality plot. His political portrayals are pretty interesting as well. A Democrat himself, Collins creates characters of varying political views but still manages to blend them seamlessly in the Mallory Series. Of particular interest is the relationship between Mallory and Sheriff Brennan. The latter was with the Sherriff’s son in the Vietnam War but only Mallory made it alive. Upon his return home, he joined the Veterans Against the War, a course that the Sheriff considered a betrayal to the society and the country at large. In a sense, Collins paints the picture that Mallory is a Liberal who is a jerk and the Sheriff, a conservative who is very decent. But of course that doesn’t imply that all Liberals are jerks and only conservatives have the best opinions. And still, despite their differences, the two men helped one another and formed a very productive bond. That goes to say just how well Collins incorporated different political views in the series without antagonizing readers or making it inappropriate for certain audiences. The only possible caution or advisory that should accompany the series is probably Mallory’s adulterous life that involves a married woman.

Regardless of the fact that Collins has plenty of experience in the film industry, none of the novels in the Mallory Series has a film adaptation yet. But all in all, it is a great series that is highly recommended. Grab a copy if you haven’t started reading it yet and you won’t regret.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Mallory