The fourth mystery in Max Allan Collins' Mallory series, the hauntingly-titled A Shroud For Aquarius is an involving little story mainly consisting of a series of interviews as our man Mallory- now a fairly successful mid-list mystery writer- approaches various suspects who may have had something to do with the death of Mallory's old friend Ginnie Mullens. Mallory's investigation is actually done at the request of the police this time, not despite their disapproval, which is an interesting touch.
As Ginnie was a 60's radical in all senses of the word (anti-war, fairly adventurous when it came to drugs and relationships), author Collins skillfully weaves into the narrative a hard look on Mallory's part (and Collins', too?) at the 60's generation: acknowledging what it accomplished but taking it to task for some of its more self-indulgent aspects. These introspective moments are interesting and thoughtful, and enhance rather than slow the story at hand.
As Mallory gets close to the truth, effective scenes of tension and danger are stirred into the mix, but there's also a little sexy romance, too, as Mallory gets reacquainted with a girl from the old days who got away (or so he thought). Both the danger and romance scenes are well done, and there are just the right amount of each.
A light, fast read with a little food for thought, A Shroud for Aquarius is a solid piece of early work from Mr. Collins, now happily available again on Kindle and in print.