Book: The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 1 by Mickey Spillane 

Brilliant of its kind 

Mickey Spillane
The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 1
New American Library, 2001
ISBN: 0-451-20352-6
513 pages

The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 1 consists of three short-ish novels by Mickey Spillane, originally published in pulp editions, in a single volume along with an introduction by Max Allan Collins. The three novels are I, The Jury (1947), My Gun is Quick (1950), and Vengeance Is Mine (1950).

I quite liked the novels but someone else might consider them a bit over the top, especially by modern standards. Still, I think that anyone who is a fan of detective fiction should at least try a Mike Hammer novel since every hard-boiled character that comes later owes something (or maybe a lot) to him. The physicality of the stories is remarkable: a huge amount of smoking, eating, drinking, fighting, and sex goes on. At one point, Mike Hammer has a plate of bacon and eggs to fortify himself before going out for a proper breakfast of steak. At another point, he drinks half a bottle of booze and then goes to visit a woman who, he's glad to see, greets him at the door with a drink.

The plots are good hard-boiled detective plots but, really, the best thing about the books is reading passages such as this, written entirely unselfconsciously:

    Here was a dame I had tagged as being as hard as they
    come, yet she thought enough of Jack to cry when I told
    her he was dead. And she hated her father, apparently.
    Well, that was a woman. (p. 69)

The novels aren't tightly edited, but since the stories are told in the first person, that's doesn't turn out to be a problem.

I doubt that I'll feel like reading very many more Mickey Spillane novels in the near future, but these three turned out to be quite a treat. 

Posted: Fri - September 2, 2005 at 08:01   Main   Category: