Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, October 9, 2022


Openers:  I had nothing to keep me company but my .45 and an itch to use it.

The intel was solid.  I felt sure of that,  But it was also sketchy as hell -- they would hit this weekend, and that was all I knew.  This very weekend the ame robbery crew that hit the Civac reception last month would be dropping by unannounced.

They thought unannounced...

But the tip was solid.  It came from Packy Paragon himself, the only mob guy in Manhattan worth trusting, ex-mob now but still tied in so tight he could hear a don pass wind.  And he knew how bad I wanted the armed robbery crew who made the Civac score.  They's gotten more than just gems.

What they'd taken was far more valuable than any diamnd, and they wuld die one by oneuntil smebdy spilled what he knew; and then he would spill, too, but it wouldn't be information.

-- Kill Me If You Can by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (2022)

Mike Hammer is in a killing mood and it's easy to see why.  In Mickey Spillane's original Mike Hammer sequence, the private eye had been shot in the stomach in the final pages of Kiss Me, Deadly (1952) and was trying to crawl out of a burning building; the reader did not know if Hammer would make it out alive.  It would be ten years before Mike Hammer fans would find out -- in the next book in the series, The Girl Hunters (1962).  Somewhere, between the two books we find out that Hammer's true love, the tough-as-nails Velda Sterling -- Hammer's secretary, partner, and fiance -- had been kidnapped and vanished frm the face of the earth.

Kill Me If You Can takes place in the mid-Fifties, the period between thse two books.  Mike Hammer Investigations had been hired to guard some valuable jewels that Mrs. Civac would be wearing at a psh reception she and her husband would be hosting.  A gang of brazen thieves had been targeting such events recently.  Hammer had a previous assignment that evening so Velda went t guard the jewels and Mrs. Civac. Velda is tough-as-nails, remember? and this job should have been a cake walk.  But it wasn't.  Velda and Mr.and Mrs. Civac were kidnapped.  Mrs; Civac's bdy was later found with her fingers cut off.  Mr. Civac and Velda simply vanished.

Although logic and Hammer's best friend, Captain Pat Chambers of Homicide, both say that Velda must be dead, Hammer cannot accept that.  His one chance to find his love is to get one of the gang to talk.  So he lies in wait.

Luck seems to be with Hammer when the gang of five thieves show up.  But Hammer's luck is fickle.  Guns are pulled and start blazing and all five members of the gang are killed.  Hammer's only chance at a lead is gone.  Shit.

But Mike Hammer des nt give up easily.  Sme it appears that there are a number f gangs pulling big-league heists, all guided by an unknwn criminal mastermind.  The Hammer's friend and surce Packy Purchase is murdered and Packy's voluptuous wife turn to him for help.

The bodies pile up with Hammer killing more than his share.  In the end, justice is served with a bullet.  And Hammer is still no closer to finding Velda.  In the closing paragraphs, the reader learns but Hammer doesn't, that Velda is alive, trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

Kill Me If You Can is published as part of the 75th anniversary celebration  of the first Mike Hammer novel, I, the Jury.  Five short stories published from 2008 to 2021, including two featuring Hammer, are also included.

Max Allan Collins was a close friend and some-time collaborator with Mickey Spillane.  Shortly before his death, Spillane told his wife to turn all his papers to Collins, saying, "He'll know what to do."  Spillane's papers were a treasure trove of unfinished novels and drafts, notes and outlines, and radio, television and film scripts.  Collins took those manuscripts, outlines and notes and tweaked them, added to them, finished them, and rearranged them to form a consistency in the Hammer saga, as well as completing several stand-alone works and a series of western novels based on an unproduced script that Spillane had written for his friend John Wayne.  Many of the books published had a lot of Spillane's actual words, others, not as much, depending on the source material Collins was working from.  But it is to Collins's credit that all of them read as 100% Mickey Spillane.

Spillane was much criticized, especially in his early career.  He had come from the world of comic books.  His books were panned as a sort of violence-porn, relying heavily on sex, machismo, and sado-masochism.  What Spillane was actually doing was connecting with the average post-war male reader, the guy who came back from the war and wanted reading that was fast-paced and where good eventually prevailed against long odds, and perhaps books that would awake the Walter Mitty in them.  Anyone who feels that Spillane was a hack, little-talent writer need only to read the first chapter of One Lonely Night to be proven wrong.  There is a reason why seven of the ten best-selling novels at one time were written by Mickey Spillane.

Max Allan Collins is no slouch himself.   A prolific and talented author he has published more books than I can count -- I lost count somewhere around number 180 and still had many more to go.  His books tend to be heavily researched, including the prize-winning Nathan Heller series of histrical detective novels and his novels and biographies about Elliott Ness.  His other popular series include those about the one-named hitman Quarry, the thief Nolan, writer Mallory, comic book writers Jack and Maggis Starr, a set of political thrillers based on the three branches of government, a series based n historical disasters, the J. C. Harrow series. the Fancy Anders series, and more.  He has been nominated for the Shamus Award frm the the Private Eye Writers of America at least eighteen times/  Collins has also garnered nominations for the Edgar Award and the Thriller Award.  He has co-edited more than half a dozen anthologies.  Collins took over the writing of the Dick Tracy comic strip from creator Chester Gould in late 1977 and wrote the strip (plus tie-in novels) until 1992.  He wrote for the Batman comic book..  He created the private eye comic strip Ms. Tree, and created the character Wild Dog, who was featured in the television show Arrow.  His graphic novel Road to Perdition was the basis for the Academy Award-winning Tom Hanks film.  Collins also writes and produces independent movies (Mommy features some actor named Spillane).  A musician, Cllins has been inducted into  the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of fame.  He has written video games, trading card sets, mystery puzzles, and audio mysteries.  With his wife and frequest collabrator, Barbara, he has written the popular Trash 'n Treasure series of mysteries.  He has written film tie-ins, as well as original tie-in nvels of major television series.  He is one of the founders of the International Association of Tie-in Writers.   It was mainly through his championing of Mickey Spillane that Spillane was named a Grand Master in 1975; Collins himself was awarded that honor in 2017.  Despite a few recent health issues, Max Allan Collins continues to produce quality, readable, and entertaining work at an amazing pace.  If the mystery field has a true Renaissance Man, it is Max Allan Collins.

And what is to be said abut Mike Hammer?  He is a true mythic character who has embedded himself into the American psyche. 



  • John Lutz, The Honorable Traitors.  A Thomas Laker thriller.  "Officially, Thomas Laker is an employee of the NSA.  His real employer, known as the Gray Outfit, is not listed -- anywhere.  When a Washington, DC, insider is killed in a bomb explosion, Laker teams up with cryptographer Ava North on a desperate search for clues.  The only thing certain is that another act of terrorism is imminent.  Delving into the dangerous past when America was drawn into global conflict, they discover one of history's greatest -- and deadliest -- secrets.  In the wrong hands it can unleash unimaginable destruction.  Now, to keep his homeland from plunging into its darkest hour, Laker will have to defend everything he believes in..."  Lutz could always be counted on for a good read.

The Dark Side of Halloween:  Here's an early Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon from 1949.  

Dark?  You betcha.  After all, what is more horrifyng than a dead child?

Think about it.

This Day in History:   October 10 has been a fairly significant day in history.  Must be something in the water or the stars or something.
  •  October 10, 680, is an important date in Islamic history, marking the Battle of Karbala and the martydom of  Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.  Husayn's father Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, and Ali's right to a Caliphate caused the rift between the Sunni and Shia Muslims.  Following the death of Muhammad, Abu Bakr (known by the sobriquet al-Saddiq) was elected the first Caliph of Islam, although many believed that Ali should rightly have the post. thus dividing Islam, with the Sunni faction supporting Abu Bakr and the Shia in favor of Ali.  Ali himself stayed out of the conflict and pladging himself to Sbu Bakr.  Abu Bakr, fearing that Ali was too controversial, named Umar ibn al-Khattab -- the father-in-law of Muhammad --as his succeessor on his deathbed in 634.  Umar ruled as the second Caliph until his assassination in 644.   The third caliph was Uthman ibn Affan, a second cousin, son-in-law, and companion to Muhammad.  Uthman was the oldest Caliph and began his Caliphate when he was in his late sixties or early seventies.  Althugh Uthman extended the Islamic empire into Iran and parts of Armenia, his rule was plagues by dissent and unrest, leading to a revolt and his assassination in 656.  Although revered by Sunnis, Uthman's habit of nepotism may have been one of the major causes of his downfall.  Ali became the fourth Caliph.  Ali was opposed by the governor of Syria, Mu'awiya, a relative of Uthman who had benefited from Uthman's nepotism.   Armed cnflict began, but Ali's forces suffered greatly, especially when many of them were bribed to supprt Mu'awiya.  Ali was assassinated in 661 and was succeeded by his eldest son Hasan.  Hasan eventually agreed to the Hasan-Mu'awiya Treaty, which ceded the Caliphate to Mu'awiya n the condition that Muslims wuold not be persecuted and that Mu'awiya not name his successor, rather that a succvessr be named by a council.  Hasan's younger brother Husayn (remember him?  from back in the first sentence in this paragraph?) also agreed to the treaty despite misgivings.  Eventually Hasan died (perhaps poisned by Mu'awiya) and Husayn took his place.  Mu'awiya als named his son Yazid.  Hasan refused to recognize Yazid and moved to strike against him but was killed by a small band of Yazid's followers in the Battle of Kataba.  Hasan's martydom sparked an open revolt against Yazid.  Yazid sent an army into Medina where his opposition was centered.  Medina was defeated and sacked.  Yazid's ppnents then held seige t Mecca fr several weeks until Yazid's death of unknown causes in 683.  A decade of civil war followed, ending in the establishment of the Marwanid dynasty.
  • On October 10, 1492, the crew of Christpher Columbus's ship Santa Maria threatened mutiny.  The voyage had taken more than 31 days without seeing land and the crew began fearing that they might never return.  Columbus had been sailing in more or less a straight line when, just three days before, a flock of birds was spotted and he changed direction.  With a threatened mutiny, Columbus assured the crew that he would turn back if they did not find land within two or three days.  The next evening Columbus change course for the second time and, at around 2:00 that morning they spotted land.  If Columbus had not changed course on the 7th, he may not have reached land before his self-imposed time was up.  The story of the threatened mutiny is legend and may not have happened.  In fact, much of what actually happened n the voyage is in dispute.  When Columbus showed up at port with orders from Ferdinand and Isabella to requisition three ships, two to be chosen by port authorities and one to be chosen by Columbus, he was given the Nina and the Pinta and Columbus chose the Santa Maria.  Here's where history gets to be a little dicey.  Some accounts give Nina and Pinta as the ships' true names; others have it that the actual name of the Nina is lost to history, although it may have been the Sannta Clara -- Nina being just a nickname for the "little" ship, or the "girl."  The actual name of the Santa Maria is also in doubt; some hold to have been the Gallega and there is a possibility that Columbus himself renamed the ship.  In any event, the Santa Maria was owned by experienced navigator and cartographer Juan de la Costa, who was later credited with drawing the first map of the New World.  Again, the facts are questionable -- there is a possibilty that de la Costa was two persons, one the owner and navigator and the other the cartographer.  The Santa Maria became the flagship of the small fleet and was captained by de la Costa under the authority of Columbus, who served as admiral.  The roles between the two was tense, with Columbus (perhaps) exceding his authority.  It appears that Columbus may have taken over captainship, reducing de la Costa to an ordinary seaman.  Columbus supposedly accused de la Costa of treason and mutiny and threatened charges.  The charges were never brought, bringing the entire affair into question.  The supposed threatened mutiny of the crew is also not mentioned in Columbus's records.  Anyway, Columbus managed to erase de la Costa's name from the records and it was only when Ferdinand and Isabella issued a decree two years later that de la Costa's name came to light.  The Santa Maria went ashore in Haiti and Columbus used some of its lumber to construct the first European settlement in the New World.  Reportedly de la Costa wanted the ship to be pulled back offshore rather than be cannibalized.  Columbus was evidently a man of great ego and his reputation was enhanced -- and de la Costa's diminished -- by Columbus's son Diego, who supposedly (and judiciously) edited Columbus's journals.  The remains of the Santa Maria were never found.
  • Forget about the recent named hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Irma, Michael, Fiona, and Ian.  The lollapalooza of all hurricanes -- a Cat 5 -- struck on October 10, 1780, killing an estimated 20-30,000 people, most likely 22,000-28,500 souls -- the deadliest hurricane on record.  October 1780 was a bad month for Atlantic hurricanes; two other major and deadly storms also occured that month.  Areas affected by the October 10 storm were the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Hispanoloia, Bermuda, and possibly eastern Florida and some U.S. states.  The storm caused heavy losses to the British fleet ande weakened Britain's strength in the area.   Forty French ships were also struck by the hurricane but only one was lost.  However, several hundred Frech soldiers and some 9000 civilians died.  The storm stripped the bark off trees before leaving the island of Barbados treeless and destroyed every house and fort on the island.  Marinique saw a 25-foot storm surge which destroyed all houses in Saint-Pierre.  In St. Vincent, 584 of the 600 houses were destroyed.  On St. Lucia, one ship from the fleet of Admiral Rodney was lifted by a wave and landed on top of the city hospital in Port Castries, destroying it.
  • On October 10, 1845, the Naval School opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with 50 students.  It is now the United States Naval Academy. 
  • Major construction on the Panama Canal was completed on this date in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dike.
  • And on this day in 1918, the greaet single loss of life occured in the Irish sea when the RMS Leinster waas torpedoed by the German submarine UB-123, killing 564 persons.  This occured just days after the new German government under Max von Baden had requested Woodrow Wilson's assistance in negotiating an armistice.  Nine days after the sinking of the Leinster, UB-123 struck a mine in the North Sea and sank, killing all 36 crew members.  In her sort raiding history, the UB123 had captured three danish ships and damaged one American ship; the Leinster was the only ship she sank.
  • Racism reared its ugly head in a Delaware restaurant on this date in 1957, when the Ghanian finance minister Komla Agbeli Gbedemah was refused service at a Howard Johnson's restaurant in Dover.  President Eisenhower apologized to the minister and invited him to breakfast at the White House.
  • On October 10, 1973. Spiro "Ted" Agnew, Richard Nixon's Vice President, resigned from that office following charges of income tax evasion.  Agnew was only the second US Vice President to ever resign, the first being John C. Calhoun in 1832, who resigned near the end of his term to enter the Senate.  Agnew had taken kickbacks from when he was Baltimore County Executive and then Governor of Maryland.  The kickbacks continued into his Vice Presidency.  Once considered a moderate, hebecame increasingly more conservative and served as Richard Nixon's attack dog while in office.  He became known, somewhat mockingly for his bloviated, alliterative rheteric while decrying Nixon's enemies.  It should be noted that Agnews sins/crimes had nothing to do with the Watergate affair that eventually led to Nixon's resignation.  Had it not been for the tax evasion charge, Agnew could well have become the country's 38th president following Nixon's resignation, rather than Gerald Ford.
  • And in October 10 was also the briday of  2018, Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle.  Fearing a possible lposs of electricity, Christina sent Kitty and myself, along with Jack, to Alabama to wait out the storm.  (Jack needed the electricity to run the gastric pump he was on.)  Kitty, being directionally impaired, took us north tp Alabama, then directly east where the hurricane hit the town where we stayed.  Of course power was lost there and we ended up driving back to the Panhandle dodging fallen trees.  We were safe but nearby Panama City was whacked but good by Michael.  Good times.
  • October 10 was also the birthday of Henry Cavendish, the scientist who discovered hydrogen and who first calculated the density (and therefore, the mass) of the Earth, 1731-1810; of Giuseppe Verdi, who would doinate the Italian opera scene with Aida, Rigoletto, Il Travitore, Otello, Falstaff, and others, 1813-1901; of actress Helen Hayes, 1900-1993; of Indian author N. K. Narayan, 1906-2001; of rythym and blues artist Ivory Joe Hunter, 1914-1974
TIME OUT:  Here's Ivory Joe Hunter singing "Since I Met You, Baby"

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled post:
  •  More birthdays:  Lou Gottlieb, one of the original Limelighters, 1923-1996; Ed Wood, cashmere-loving filmmaker and author of over 80 sex and crime novels, 1924-1978; Nobel Prize laureate Harold Pinter, 1930-2008; Tywin Lannister hinself, actor Charles Dance, who was alo Lord Mountbatten for the third and fourth season of The Crown, b. 1946; Nora Roberts, prolific romance and suspense author, b. 1950;  singer-songwriter Tanya Tucker, b. 1958; California governor Gavin Newsom, b. 1967; Brett Favre, former footbal player now embroiled in a scandal in Mississippi, b. 1969.
  • Those who have shuffled off this mortal coil on this date in history include the Roman general Germanicus, 15 BC- 19 AD; William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, who was serously wounded in the plot that killed the President,  1801-1872; Lip Pike, the "Iron Batter,"who was one of the stars of 19th century baseball (and also the first Jewish baseball star and manager in America), 1845-1893; Adophus Busch, co-founder of the Anheiser-Busch brewing company, 1839-1913; French songstress who had a troubled life Edith Piaf, 1915-1963; actor Yul Brynner (1920-1985) who died on the same day as actor/director/boy genius Orson Welles (1915-1985); Minister Marvin Gye, Sr., who died four and one-half years after he killed his son, singer Marvin Gaye, Jr. (1914-1998); actor and inspiration Christopher Reeve (1952-2004); and astronaut Scott Carpenter, 1925-1913).
  • Today is, of course, Columbus Day, or (as I prefer to think of it) Indigenous People's Day.  Among the many other holidays and observations today are World Porridge Day (meh), National Angel Food Cake Day (I can support that) and National Cake Decorating Day (I'm one who likes pretty cakes but doesn't care for too much frosting).  It's also World Day Against the Death Penalty (count me in), World Homeless Day (to clarify things, they are against homelessness...yay!), and World Mental Health Day.  Today is also National Kick Butt, point me at 'em.

25 Bizaare Animals You Didn't Know Existed:  (Actually, I did.)

Florida Man:
  •  Florida Man Eward Rodrigues was arrested for trying to rob a Madison Waffle House using his finger as a gun.  Rodigues had his dog with him.  After failing to convince Waffle House employees that he was serious, Rodrigues grabbed some napkins and left.  As Jeff Foxworthy said, "If you go into a Waffle House and don't see a drunk man, you are the drunk man."
  • Florida Woman Susan Freudenthal, 53, of St. Petersberg, was arrested in Largo for using a cat to assault her girlfriend, who suspested Freudenthal of cheating.  The victim had multiple lacerations on her face.  Freaudenthal was arrested on charges of domestic violence.
  • Police are searching for an unnamed Florida Man who beat a seagull with a shovel on Marco Island.  The attack was witnessed by several beachgoers.  The bird suffered multiple fractures, trauma, and internal injuries; one wing was twisted and the gull was having trouble breathing. 
  • An unnamed 14-year-old Florida Boy from Punta Gorda was held for stabbing a Charlotte County deputy multiple times in the head.  The deputy was patrolling the area to enforce the curfew put in place following Hurricane Ian.  He stopped the "suspicious juvenile," who told the deputy that he was fishing, even though the youth had no fishing equipment.  When the deputy tried to stop the  boy, the youth reportedly stabbed him behind the ear six times.  Despite his innjuries the deputy was able to taser the suspect and hold him until backup arrived.  The boy was also found to have a hammer in his backpack and was wearing gloves.  He later told investigators that he had planned to break into several restaurants in the area.  The injured deputy was air lifted to a local hospital and is now at home recovering from his injuries.
  • Florida Woman Perla H. Huerta of Tampa has reportedly been identified as the woman who lured dozens of migrants for Governor Ron DeSantis's flights to Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio.  Huerta is a former combat medic and U.S. counterterrorism agent.  DeSSanti is a buffon who has a good shot at being the next Republican nominee for the Presidency.  Time will tell if these particular antics will result in criminal or civil charges against the governor.

Good News:
  •  Ukraine girl is bereft without her cat until they are reunited thanks to strangers in five countries
  • Boy struggling in school is now a math genius ever since his mother taught him how to use an abacus
  • Australia sets aside 30% of its land mass to protect unique species
  • Exposure to more foreign accents help children to grow their vocabulary faster
  • India to deploy super-sniffing dogs to protect newly-inroduced cheetahs from poachers
  • Lost for 97 years, rediscovered magnolia tree spurs hope for its restoration in Haiti
  • Cat who sneaks into school gets his class portait taken -- and the package is sent home to Mom

Today's Poem:
An October Garden

In my Autumn garden I was fain
To mourn among my scattered roses;
Alas for that last rosebud which uncloses
To Autumn's languid sun and rain
When all the world is on the wane!
Which has not felt the sweet constraint of June,
Nor heard the nightingale in tune.

Broad-faced asters by my garden walk,
You are but coarse when compared with roses:
More choice, more dear that rosebud which uncloses,
Faint-scented, pinched, upon its stalk,
That least and last which cold winds balk;
A rose it is though least and last of all,
A rose to me though at the fall.

-- Christina Rossetti

1 comment:

  1. I have never read a Mickey Spillane but I have read Max Allan Collins a bit.