Created by Max Allan Collins

No, NOLAN‘s not really a private eye. What he is is a tough guy, a professional thief, reminiscent of Richard Stark’s Parker, who no doubt influenced Nolan’s creator, the then-25 year old Max Allan Collins. The difference, though, is that right from the beginning, in his 1973 debut, the delightfully pulpy paperback original Bait Money, Nolan is looking to retire after (everybody sing along) One Last Job.

Of course, something always seems to come up…

Aiding and abetting Nolan in his criminal entreprises is his young assistant Jon, another professional thief, albeit one with a taste for rock’n’roll and comic books (a passion shared with his creator).

In what was supposed to be the last book of the series, 1987’s Spree, Nolan finally manages to retire, running a restaurant-cum-nightclub in a mall, when something — surprise, surprise — comes up.

But that was followed in 1999 by Mourn the Living, previously serialized in 1987 in Hardboiled, and finally collected into book form by Five Star Mystery in December 1999. But it goes much further back than that. “It was written in college — probably around ’68-’69,” Max says, “and is really more of a private eye novel than a typical heist-type Nolan.”

And that was that.

Except that in November 2020, thirty three years after his last new novel, Nolan, now gone legit, returned in Skim Deep, published in paperback (of course) from Hard Case Crime (of course). All Nolan wants is to finally tie the knot with longtime squeeze longtime lover Sherry–but the Mob has other ideas.

Even better? Hard Case Crime has announced that they plan to publish new editions of all the earlier Nolan novels as a series of twofers, with two novels collected in each of four double-length volumes, all with suitably cheesy seventies-era covers: Two for the Money and Double Down in 2021, Tough Tender in 2022, and Mad Money in 2023.

Of course, something always seems to come up…



  • “Enter Nolan” (1968; also Spring 1987, Hardboiled)
  • “Mourn the Living (Part 1)” (Summer/Fall 1987, Hardboiled)
  • “Mourn the Living (Part 2)” (Winter/Spring 1988, Hardboiled)
  • “Mourn the Living (Part 3)” (Spring 1989, Hardboiled)



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And a tip of the fedora to Eric Harper.

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