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Craig's Book Club
Book Recommendations

Spotlight on: Double Dealer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) by Max Allan Collins


To arrange to have products considered for review, send an email to craigsbookclub@yahoo.com.


Double Dealer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) by Max Allan Collins Max Allan Collins, Double Dealer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)

I would imagine that the first words out of the mouths of many Max Allan Collins fans reading this are: "Why is he writing CSI novels? Isn't he better than that?" and I would then have to imagine that they must have forgotten (or never knew) that, in between his various graphic novel and historical mystery projects, Collins has had a lively TV/movie tie-in sideline going on for some time now. Sure, his two Shamus awards are for entries in his Nathan Heller series (True Detective and Stolen Away, to be specific), but it was his novelization of Saving Private Ryan that gave him the "New York Times Bestselling Author" designation that has appeared on nearly every one of his book covers since.

In any case, the bottom line is that Collins writes intelligent, detail-oriented, fast-paced novels (mysteries for the most part) and so is a perfect fit for CSI. His experience writing in the voices of already-existent television characters (NYPD Blue, Dark Angel) also serves well in his representation of Grissom, Willows, Brass, Brown, Stokes, and Sidle: every line reads as if it were delivered by the actors; and remember, these are original plots, not novelizations of previously-filmed teleplays, making the result that much more admirable.

Double Dealer is the first novel in the series and contains a good amount of extra detailed history, in-depth predictive reenactments, and copious description, while still respecting the "reality" of the events from the first season. (Something that is also good to remember: later season events, relationships, and promotions are not reflected here, the only major drawback to reading a novel based on an ongoing television series.)

A mummified corpse is discovered that carries the same shooter's-signature as a more recently dispatched victim. However, true to form, Grissom considers the two to be separate cases until the evidence proves otherwise. I'm hesitant to provide too much detail about the plot but series fans will love how Collins follows the normal procedure of a typical episode in Double Dealer -- all the way down to the jaw-dropping climax and the non sequitur ending. In addition, he adds his own brand of humor, particularly in the form of in-jokes during an interrogation in a video store. (He not only name-drops his own innovative DVD Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, but also a classic from a lead cast member's past.)

A satisfying read all around, Double Dealer enhances the CSI mythology without having to go outside the expected realm, and leaves plenty of room for further development, making it perfect for fans, but also approachable for the uninitiated. (Of course, this metafiction-loving reviewer would be tickled pink to see the worlds collide by having this novel adapted into a future CSI movie, bringing everything full circle.)


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