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Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Spillane’

Kill Me, Darling by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Once again Max Allan Collins has turned a fragment from the collection of unpublished Mickey Spillane notes and stories into a winner of a new Mike Hammer novel in “Kill Me, Darling.”  The latest in the series that was entrusted to Collins by Spillane shortly before he died is, in my opinion, the best of the Hammer series.

The settings are very well-researched 1950’s New York and Miami while the great Mafia families held sway over most of the major cities in the U.S.  The Mike Hammer we meet in this installment is older, wiser, and trying to recover from an extended bender.  The four month drinking stint comes about when Mike’s girl friend and assistant PI, Velda, walks out on him.

What motivates Mike out of his drunken stupor is the murder of a cop Velda used to work with on the NYPD. Mike wants to find out who killed the cop and also finally recognizes that Velda’s disappearance may be related to a case the cop was working to bust a gangland drug lord named Nolly Quinn.  When Mike finds out that Velda has become Quinn’s girl friend and companion in Miami Beach he sets out for the southland.  Mike skillfully plays along with the local cops, local press and a bevvy of some of the top mafiosi in the country in order to outwit and out-gun Quinn and save Velda.

The plot and the action are totally absorbing.  The new Mike Hammer is a more likeable guy having dried out and gained a little bit of savvy on how to win friends and influence people.  Despite Hammer’s improved awareness of how to more effectively get things done with and through others he still stays true to the rough, tough and deadly Mike Hammer image.  This is a Mike Hammer who can be equally appreciated by the usually male fan of hard-bitten graphic detective novel  and women who enjoy a thriller built around an interesting  storyline, atmospheric location with a more sophisticated and people-aware protagonist.  Now I can say I actually like this Mike Hammer and don’t just appreciate him academically as a classic icon.

Nice character development, Max!  Keep ’em coming.  “Kill Me, Darling” is highly recommended.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a supplied copy.)

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“Complex 90” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Complex 90” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins is due to be released May 7.  Collins was designated by the Spillane estate to finish several novels Spillane had in the hopper when he died.  Collins has stayed true to the hard-bitten Spillane style in this Mike Hammer novel.  This is not a detective novel so much as an espionage thriller.

The setting is 1964 Russia where Hammer, who secretly has a side gig as a black ops agent for the U.S. government, has accompanied a Senator on an international mission.  When he gets involved in a plea by their Russian translator to defect Hammer is detained by the KGB and thrown into a Russian prison.  He manages to escape at the expense of the lives of 45 Russians who try to stop him.  Some American officials are ready to disavow Hammer and send him back to Russia to answer for the deaths during his escape all in the name of detente.  What may keep him out of the hands of the Soviets is if he can identify the whereabouts of some major Soviet spies then the U.S. will have the trading power to keep Hammer out of Soviet hands and to bring home a few other detainees in Soviet prisons.  Hammer walks into the middle of a conspiracy to sell space technology secrets that nearly gets him killed.

Complex 90” is a bit dated in the sense that this is clearly a Cold War novel completed long after the Cold War has ended.  Still, there is no question that espionage still goes on between East and West.  Hammer is still his macho-man self in this thriller, but now instead of viewing women just as sex objects he seems to hold women who are beautiful, smart and accomplished in high regard.  One of those beautiful women is almost Hammer’s undoing. He also works with a black Army MP who is also held in high regard and becomes a real hero in this story.  These are modernizations of the Hammer character that I think Max Collins may have included.

Hammer fans will be glad to see him back in the skillful hands of Max Allan Collins.

Written from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

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