When big name authors do events in Cedar Rapids, they often come into town and leave the same day. However, when award-winning, New York Times best-selling authors Ed Gorman and Max Allan Collins come to Mystery Cat Books next week, they won’t have to worry about a long commute home.
Because they live right here in Iowa.
“You can tell they’re Midwestern guys in their writing,” bookstore owner Todd Meyer says. “There’s good moral fiber in their books.”
There’s also plenty of mystery and suspense. Gorman and Collins have written more than 60 acclaimed novels and, according to Meyer, identify “primarily” as mystery writers.
Gorman, a resident of Cedar Rapids, also has dabbled in science fiction, horror and Western — “all with a mystery flavor.”
A number of Gorman’s books are set in Iowa or in fictional Iowa towns, such as his Sam McCain series, where each book is focused around a major event in Iowa’s history. However, Gorman’s most recent book, “Flashpoint,” is set in Washington, D.C., with a plot ripped straight from the headlines: Dev Conrad, a political consultant for veteran U.S. Sen. Robert Logan, finds himself involved in a murder investigation when a woman believed to be the Senator’s mistress is found dead — in the Senator’s fishing cabin.
Gorman’s good friend and fellow author Max Allan Collins from Muscatine also will be joining him at Mystery Cat Books. Collins is perhaps best known for writing the graphic novel “Road to Perdition,” which was made into a film staring Tom Hanks.
He’ll be discussing his most recent book, “Ask Not,” the latest in his Detective Nathan Heller series. Here Collins explores the true story of a scarcely-reported alleged assassination attempt on President John F. Kennedy in Chicago, just weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Collins’ research raises new questions about Kennedy’s death, making for a timely discussion, even 50 years after the tragedy.
“When it comes to historical fiction,” Meyer says, “there’s really no one better than Max.”
And when it comes to discussing novels, it doesn’t get much better than having Collins and Gorman together in one venue. “They’re good friends and haven’t been here together in about four years. If you are any kind of reader, even if you’re not a mystery fan, you will get a kick out of these guys. They play off each other so well.”
The event, Meyer stresses, won’t be anything stuffy. The authors will sit just in front of the audience — they won’t be up on a stage — and after discussing their most recent works will invite audience members to join them in a conversation about writing, mystery books and other subjects.
“Sometimes they do get off topic,” Meyer says with a smile. “But that’s what’s fun. They make you laugh.”
Perhaps the greatest mystery is why more Iowans don’t know about Collins and Gorman, who have published widely and won numerous prestigious awards for their work.
“So many people are missing the boat,” Meyer says. “I don’t think people fully appreciate how big these guys are on an international level. And they’re ours. Our gems.”
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