Nolan Books in Order: How to read Max Allan Collins’s series?

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A Buddy Crime Story by the writer of Quarry.

What is the Nolan series about?

Nolan (first name unknown) is the protagonist of the hard-boiled mystery series by American author Max Allan Collins. Originally written as a tribute to Richard Stark’s Parker, the series evolved to become a Buddy crime story where semi-retired mobster Nolan is paired with Jon, a twenty-something collector of comic books dreaming of becoming a comic book artist. But life happens, and it didn’t quite work out that way.

Nolan made his debut in 1973, with the novel Bait Money, and Collins continued to publish books featuring the characters during all the 80s. After that, we had to wait until 1999 for another Nolan book, and again, until 2020 with the last to date Nolan crime story.

How to read the Nolan Books in Order?

 - Frank Nolan Books in Order.jpg Bait Money - Frank Nolan Books in Order Blood Money - Frank Nolan Books in Order

  1. Mourn the LivingPublished in 2001 as the eighth book in the series, it has actually been written in the 1960s and pre-dates the action of Bait Money by about 10 years. Nolan does a favor for an old-time Mafia friend and tries to find out how his daughter was killed. Was it suicide or was she involved in the circle of drugs that was so pervasive? Nolan risks his life investigating a Mafia family to help out his old pal.
  2. Bait Money – His name’s Nolan. He’s a shrewd, restless tough guy with a talent for theft. With a lifetime of heists under his belt and a bullet in his side, he’s ready to retire. And the Mafia’s eager to help him along…permanently. They think he’s got a debt to pay – with his life. But after all these years, they might be willing to settle for 100 grand instead.
  3. Blood MoneyNolan was still alive; his wounds healed and his money was safe – all $800,000 of it. It was Nolan’s birthday and he was sitting happy. Until Planner was killed. Planner was an eccentric antique dealer; Planner had the $800,000 in his safe. But now he was dead and the money was gone. Caught up in a sizzling crossfire of double-dealing, danger and death, Nolan was up against the ‘Family’ again. There was only one way out…Blood Money!

Fly Paper - Frank Nolan Books in Order Hush Money - Frank Nolan Books in Order Hard Cash - Frank Nolan Books in Order

  1. Fly Paper – Making a score and settling one at the same time is a rare opportunity, enough to bring Nolan out of criminal retirement… but he didn’t count on the hillbillies of the skyjacker…
  2. Hush Money – Someone is targeting crooked businessmen for death, and the Chicago Family turns to Nolan for help.
  3. Hard Cash – Heist-man Nolan is enjoying his retirement from crime, running his own restaurant, when the president of a bank he robbed two years ago shows up with a blackmail demand. All Nolan has to do is rob the bank again–and play patsy to a sexy girl friend’s murder scheme.

Scratch Fever - Frank Nolan Books in Order Spree - Frank Nolan Books in Order Skim Deep - Frank Nolan Books in Order

  1. Scratch Fever – Return of a femme fatale. Beautiful, homicidal Julie has one lethal solution for every problem. And now Nolan and his sometime sidekick Jon have gotten on Julie’s “problem” list. If a pair of out-of-town hitmen can’t do the job, Julie will do it herself.
  2. Spree Nolan, the reformed thief, has finally gotten his life in order. He has a restaurant and a beautiful lady friend. Then Coleman Comfort shows up and makes things clear immediately. He and his son have kidnapped Nolan’s girlfriend, and if Nolan does not do what they say, Sherry is dead.
  3. Skim DeepThe onetime world-class thief Nolan – now happily gone straight with his own restaurant/nightclub – whisks his longtime lover Sherry off to Vegas for a trip to a wedding chapel and a honeymoon stay. But an eye-in-the-sky security cam at a casino spots Nolan, whose past catches up with him when he’s thought to be casing the joint. An old friend sees Nolan as the perfect patsy for a scheme to heist the weekly skim haul, and when the former thief’s young frequent accomplice, Jon – a musician in the casino’s house band – finds the couple mysteriously, suspiciously missing, it’s up to Nolan’s Best Man to keep wedding bells from tolling a funeral march.

Nolan, Omnibus edition

As Nolan made a comeback in 2020, it has inspired a reprint of his novels in an omnibus format, especially as most of the individual books are out of print.

Two for the Money - Frank Nolan Books in Order Double Down - Frank Nolan Books in Order Tough Tender - Frank Nolan Books in Order

  1. Two for the Money – omnibus reprint of the first two books Bait Money and Blood Money
  2. Double Down – omnibus reprint of the third and fourth books Fly Paper and Hush Money
  3. Tough Tender – omnibus reprint of the fifth and sixth books Hard Cash and Scratch Fever (2022)
  4. Mad Money – omnibus reprint of the seventh and eighth books Spree and Mourn the Living (2023)

If you like Nolan, you may also want to see our Quarry reading order by the same author, or our guide to Richard Stark’s Parker series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.

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  1. Nolan has no first name. “Frank” was stuck on the descriptive cover copy of the first two books when they were published in 1973. Every other printing, every other book in the series, has been Nolan (no Frank). Yet it sticks. But I’m here to tell you…his first name is not “Frank.” Or if it is, he never told me.

    Thanks for this attention!

    1. It’s, unfortunately, kinda sticks once you read the name, it’s annoying! Thanks for letting me know, I deleted all traces of “Frank” in the post.

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