Every once in a while, I check in to see what Mike Hammer is up to. It’s always so freeing to live vicariously through him. The fictional detective, celebrating his 75th anniversary in print, never worries about being politically correct or resolving differences in a genteel manner.
No, Mike Hammer is all about the opposite of all that. He’s about violent solutions and getting even and snarky jokes. It’s what originally made him a publishing sensation. In fact, author Mickey Spillane has sold over 225 million books internationally. It has made him so popular that he’s spawned so many literary descendants, like James Bond, for instance.
Max Allan Collins (one of my favorite mystery writers) is one of those guys who met his hero…and not only got along with him, but was asked to carry the torch. Collins has told the story many times how he met the larger-than-life author Spillane, and eventually developed a friendship and professional respect. Today, Collins collaborates with the deceased author by building upon the unfished stories and notes left by Spillane to create new books.
Every collaboration so far has been a treat, and the newest Mike Hammer book Kill Me If You Can, from Titan Books, is no exception. One might easily argue that the student has surpassed the master, although I imagine Collins would roll his eyes at such a statement.
This compact thriller tells another untold story of Mike Hammer. It’s got it all: dames, danger and double-crosses The lead story, actually more of a novella, tells the tale of a younger Mike Hammer. This one, based on an unproduced screenplay, tags all the bases that Spillane is known for: there’s boozing, betrayals, and beer.
This wonderful edition, edited by Titan’s Andrew Sumner, is put together by people who love the medium. The dust jacket continues the urban visual theme established a few volumes ago by a UK studio called Amazing15. And as a special treat, the book itself is stuffed with five more snappy short stories. Two of them feature Mike Hammer, and all of them seem to be set in that unique version of New York (and the suburbs) that Spillane could evoke like no one else.
Except maybe Collins now that I think about it.