“Road to Perdition” by Max Allan Collins: Case Study Analysis

Pages: 4
Words: 1119


The author of the book is Max Allan Collins, an American mystery writer. The author is known for the style, namely graphic novels, which, with the help of pictures, immerse the reader into the atmosphere. In addition, when reading Max Allan Collins’s books, it is hard not to notice the corporate style of writing thrillers, keeping the reader in suspense and using an exciting plot. Max Allan Collins is also the author of such works as the comic book Ms. Tree, the Batman comic, Road to Purgatory, and Road to Paradise. The author received the Shamus Award in 1984 and 1992 and an Inkpot Award in 1982.


Road to Perdition is a crime noir story with graphical elements that strengthen the atmosphere’s representation. The intended audience for this novel is readers of young, middle, or mature ages, however, who have reached the age of majority. It is formulated by the presence of the exciting plot but also by scenes of cruelty in the novel. Moreover, the book is perfect for fans of comics and graphic novels, as well as thrillers. The purpose of the book is to demonstrate the criminal life of the mafia and the relationship between them and the rest of the world (FantasticFiction, 2022). The author wanted to convey such concepts as betrayal, cruelty, fear, and revenge through the eyes of a person who lives in a criminal environment.


The book’s title is on the cover and the title page, and it matches the image on the cover. In the book, the title plays the role of hidden meaning, namely that the criminal path is a way to Perdition. Besides, it displays the path of the protagonist, Michael O’Sullivan, from criminal activity to revenge. It adequately encapsulates the message of the book as it clearly shows that the path of murder and cruelty is a cursed path and leads nowhere. This is interesting because, despite the widespread plot (revenge for the child), the masterful style has exciting plot twists.

Speaking about the preface, the author did not give any information that would reveal the text or plot twists. There were episodes from the life of the author, adaptations of novels, as well as other novels and their short histories. It was not provided by the guest author. Moreover, the author came to some conclusions in this part. Namely, it was possible to reveal the judgment that the illusion of security is blinding. It was marked that writing the Dick Tracy strip, namely continuing the work of another creator, gave Max Allan Collins a false feeling of security. Besides, the author came to the conclusion that “if you are turned away from one road, there is always another – filled with risk but also adventure” (Collins 8). Or in other words, there is always one’s path and one’s own destination, with its risks and adventures. Besides, the book is arranged into chapters, and this one is a preface chapter.

The jacket of this book is quite bright and eye-catching, which depicts a mafia holding machine guns and a child. Of course, this attracted my attention, and from this picture, one can draw a rough conclusion that it is about the interaction of a child with the mafia. Such a plot cannot leave one indifferent, and moreover, judging by the crying expression on the child’s face, one can determine that he was kidnapped. However, one may imagine differently, for example, that this is the father of a child taking revenge on his offenders. The influence of the binding, page cut, or typescript on the work is not significant, as the reader is captivated by the plot of the book.


There are many characters in the book. However, it is worth mentioning the four vivid personages: Michael Sr., Michael Jr., Conner, and John Looney. John Looney was an “old man, self-trained lawyer”, and he had “his crazy son Conner – who used to be his pop’s chauffeur” (Collins 19). The protagonist, Michael O’Sullivan, the father of Michael Jr, was “quiet, and the most honorable man… It was hard to imagine my father being part of any of that”, talking about the mafia (Collins 22). His son was curious, so much so that it led to an irreparable consequence when Michael Jr decided to find out what his father was doing. Thus, the author emphasizes the difference between the characters of the mafia and Michael Senior, which further increases empathy for the hero. However, one could hardly empathize with Conner and John Looney and another mafia since they were represented as the opposite of Michael Sr.


The author used the most striking motive for the main character, namely revenge for his son. Indeed, a child is the most precious thing in a parent’s life, so an adult audience with a child experience this especially. In addition, the young audience is also captured as one has the opportunity to look at the criminal world through the eyes of a child and how dangerous it is. Such a motive is effective as one worries the most about the child. The author’s unique style can be described as cinematic and realistic, especially given the characters’ dialogue. Finally, it is accessible to almost all readers, as it is written in simple language.

The argument of the work can be considered the purpose of the book indicated above, namely the display of the criminal world and its dangers. Thus, the work completed its argument by demonstrating the dreaded aspects of criminal life. As support for the author’s findings, Max Allan Collins used a demonstration of the drama for any parent, namely the death of the family. Thereby, the author promotes the idea of a “road to purgatory” as a path of cruelty and evil. Thus, this formulates the main idea of the work, along with the representation of the consequences of cruelty. It is what makes it good, on the one hand depicting cruelty but on the other hand condemning it.

To conclude, I would like to indicate my reaction to the book, which is formulated by the main idea of the work. As already indicated, the author masterfully displayed the condemnation of cruelty, drawing the reader’s attention to its display. This is what formulates my positive reaction to the book because, in my opinion, art has certain tasks. And these tasks include not only the evoking of certain emotions, such as fear, sadness, or laughter but also certain aims. One of these aims is a way to promote goodness by condemning evil and cruelty. This is exactly what Max Allan Collins managed to do. Moreover, the author’s style and graphic elements make this book unique and compelling to read.

Works Cited

Collins, Max. Road to Perdition. DC Comics, 2011.

FantasticFiction. Max Allan Collins. Web.