Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Max Allan Collins continues to honor Mickey Spillane's memory with the latest Mike Hammer saga, forged from two incomplete novels and notes that Spillane had left after his death. Collins seamlessly welds the two storylines into one hard driving narrative and does it in such a way that it is almost impossible to distinquish his writing from Spillane's.
The story takes place during the Disco era of the Seventies, where Hammer's trenchcoat and pork pie hat are out of date. So, perhaps, is Hammer. He's recuperating from wounds he received the year before in a shootout with the mob, in which he killed the twisted son of mob boss Angelo Bonetti. Hammer, hearing Death knocking at his door, breaks it off with Velma and somehow makes it down to Florida to die. But Mike is tough and he lives, under an assumed name, wondering if Bonetti will send assassins after him.
Mike Hammer is easier to find than he had thought. A telphone call from his best friend, Pat Chambers, informs him that his old mentor, Bill Doolan, is dead. Doolan, a much-revered cop who had become a community leader since his retirement twenty years before, had committed suicide when faced with a rapidly approaching and painful death from cancer. Or did he? Hammer suspects murder but all the facts point to suicide.
Back in New York for Doolan's funeral, Hammer discovers the body of a young dancer just a few blocks from the funeral home. Things begin to percolate when a hooker is killed during an attempt on Mike's life. Then the dancer's former boyfriend is murdered. Mike finds himself pitted once again against the mob while trying to discover the secret of Doolan's death. Nazi treasure, a drug ring, a sexy assistant DA, a popular disco club, a sexy Latin headliner, an up-and-coming politico, and Doolan's mysterious blonde girlfriend complicate the mystery as the bodies keep piling up. In one noteworthy scene, Mike takes on two dozen mobsters and comes out on top.
Mickey Spillane was a visceral writer who knew what his audience wanted. Although scorned by the elite, he became one of the country's mid-century best-selling authors, and deservedly so. Over the years -- and in part because of Max Allan Collins's unflagging support -- Spillane has been accepted, not only as a major influnce in the modern mystery novel, but as a talented author in his own right. We are fortunate that another talented writer was hand-picked by Spillane to continue his legacy and to bring his unpublished and incomplete books to the public.
Kiss Her Goodbye is Spillane and Collins at the top of their game, an evocative look at an iconic American hero.
Fans such as you, Jerry, haven't hurt that effort...any more than did the genial nature of Spillane himself.ReplyDelete
Good post, Jerry. I've enjoyed the three Hammers Collins finished, each one better than the previous.ReplyDelete