You have gotten over the grieving period and you have resigned yourself to the fact that one of your favorite hard boiled authors has passed away...Until suddenly, what’s this, someone has taken up the mantle and has began producing books from the notes and leftover pieces of work that they have left behind.
This is exactly what is happening with the works of Mickey Spillane and the (in)famous Mike Hammer series. Mickey Spillane passed away in 2006 and even though he hadn’t produced a novel in many years there was definitely a feeling of “end of an era” about the occasion. But Mickey had thought ahead and managed to bequeath his notes and partially completed manuscripts to Max Allan Collins. The result is the continuation of the Mike Hammer series beyond Spillane’s lifetime. And we are the beneficiaries.
Already published is The Goliath Bone (2008), The Big Bang (2010) and Kiss Her Goodbye (2011) which has managed to tide us over quite nicely.
Here is the way Max Allan Collins tells it as far as how he has been entrusted with the unpublished Mickey Spillane stuff:
“A week before his death, Mickey Spillane told his wife Jane, “When I’m gone, there’s going to be a treasure hunt around here. Take everything you find and give it to Max—he’ll know what to do.” I can imagine no greater honor.
Half a dozen substantial Mike Hammer novel manuscripts were found among a wealth of unpublished material. Lady, Go Die! constituted perhaps the most exciting find. Initially, I thought the brittle, yellow single-spaced pages were an earlier draft of The Twisted Thing (published 1966, but written much earlier), because of the shared small-town setting and a few character names. As I read the manuscript, I realized this was something quite special—the unfinished second Mike Hammer novel.
The famous first Hammer, I, the Jury, written in 1945 but published in 1947, was presented as a post-war adventure. I have honored that continuity here, although the partial manuscript I worked from (circa 1945 itself) originally contained references to World War Two as ongoing. Why Mickey set Lady, Go Die! aside, we can never know. But in my biased opinion, it was a yarn well worth finishing.”
The hits haven’t stopped with the release of the latest “collaboration” between Spillane and Collins. The new novel is titled Lady, Go Die!, it has been available since May 8, 2012 and as has just been explained by Collins, it is heralded as the sequel to I, the Jury.
Lady, Go Die! is published by Titan Books and it gives you all of the hallmarks of the type of stuff that made Spillane such an entertaining read. The cover, well, it looks like that cover that has been displayed at the top of the page on the right.
If you wish to buy the book it can be found on eBay...
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The writing goes a little like the excerpt that has been provided below that starts the book off...
They were kicking the hell out of the little guy.
Halfway down the alley between two wooden storefront buildings, shadows in the moonlight did an evil dance, three goons circling around a whimpering pile of bones down on the gravel. The big guys seemed to be trying for field goals, their squirming prey pulled in on himself like a barefoot fetus in a ragged t-shirt and frayed dungarees. Blood soaked through the white cotton like irregular polka dots, and moans accelerated into ragged screams whenever a hard-toed shoe put one between the goal posts.
“Mike,” Velda whispered, grasping my arm.
Two of the baggy-suit bastards had hats jammed on their skulls, the other one, the biggest, was bare-headed with a butch cut so close to the scalp he might have been bald.
I said a nasty word, took a last drag on the cig and sent it spinning into the deserted street. I slipped out of my sportcoat and handed it to my raven-haired companion, who was frowning at me, though those big beautiful brown eyes stayed wide. I held up a hand to her like a crossing guard, and she just nodded.
To give you the general overview of the book as supplied by the publisher, here is the synopsis that has been provided by Titan Books:
Hammer and Velda go on vacation to a small beach town on Long Island after wrapping up the Williams case (I, the Jury). Walking romantically along the broadwalk, they witness a brutal beating at the hands of some vicious local cops—Hammer wades in to defend the victim. When a woman turns up naked—and dead—astride the statue of a horse in the small-town city park, how she wound up this unlikely Lady Godiva is just one of the mysteries Hammer feels compelled to solve…
So now it is up to the fans of the Mike Hammer series to decide how to proceed from here. Do you get yourself a copy of Lady, Go Die! and dive right in or do you get yourself a copy, return to your copy of I, the Jury!, re-read it and then continue on with the new book. Obviously it is going to be up to the individual to decide and will probably depend on how well you trust your memory.
My memory sucks big time so I’m going to be going back to the first book for a refresher before getting into the new book.
So at this point it is worth rehashing the full Mike Hammer series but this time, thanks to the Max Allan Collins interview published recently at The Rap Sheet, here is the full list of books that are listed in the order in which they take place throughout Mike Hammer’s career. The years listed in brackets are the actual year of publication for each novel.
I, the Jury (1947)
Lady, Go Die! (2012)
The Twisted Thing (1966)
My Gun Is Quick (1950)
Vengeance Is Mine (1950)
One Lonely Night (1951)
The Big Kill (1951)
Kiss Me, Deadly (1952)
The Girl Hunters (1962)
The Snake (1964)
The Big Bang (2010)
Complex 90 (2013)
The Body Lovers (1967)
Survival ... Zero (1970)
Kiss Her Goodbye (2011)
The Killing Man (1989)
Black Alley (1996)
King of the Weeds (2014)
The Goliath Bone (2008)
If you have only heard about Mike Hammer and have never actually read any of the books, now is the opportunity to read them in the order in which they occur. As you can see, there are 11 books to read before getting to the yet to be published Complex 90. The rest of us can use it as a great excuse to pull the books out again and read them again.