Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kiss Her Goodbye

Shortly 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 (Allan Collins)_he'll know what to do."
And boy, does he. Without a doubt, Kiss Her Goodbye is my favorite so far of the new Mike Hammer novels written by Spillane and Collins . In the introduction Collins explains that he wrote the book by combining, shaping, and expanding two of Spillane's partial manuscripts from the 1970s. The result is very impressive.
This one begins with Mike Hammer in Florida recuperating from wounds received in a shootout with some New York mob boys. His old friend Pat Chambers calls to let Hammer know that another old friend, an ex-cop Hammer considered his mentor during his own short time on the NYPD, has apparently committed suicide. Hammer heads north for the funeral, but in his gut he doesn't believe that his friend killed himself. Shortly after the funeral a young woman's body is discovered close enough to the funeral home to make Mike wonder if there may be some connection to what he feels is a faked suicide. As Hammer investigates he finds more questions than answers and begins to realize that there is some much larger game afoot behind the two deaths.
I think Collins made a wise decision to leave this book set in the time period it was intended for rather than updating it. Hammer plows his way through the 1970s, visiting a celebrity hotspot Disco molded after Studio 54 and fitting in about as well as you would expect. I grew up in the 70s, which may be one reason I like this book as much as I do.
Kiss Her Goodbye is interesting in that early on Hammer isn't quite the self confident mayhem machine readers are familiar with. The fallout from the almost fatal gun battle is that Hammer has lost weight and is dependant on pain killers. He wonders if he still has what it takes to get the job done as he did in the old days. But as the bodies begin to pile up, Hammer's rage begins to fuel his investigation and soon he's back in shape, off the pain meds, and ready to do some damage. The last quarter of the book is all out Hammer Time and includes some of the best action since the classic Hammer novel One Lonely Night.
I've no idea what in the book is Spillane and what is Collins but as I told a friend of mine, the 'voice' is Mike Hammer. It sounds like Hammer did in the old days. Collins has nailed it.
I was fortunate enough to meet Mickey Spillane back in the mid 1990s. I'll have to post about that soon. It was a great experience. Anyway, Kiss Her Goodbye is well worth your time. Check it out.


Beth said...

Argh, Blogger ate my comment yesterday! Anyway, I wanna read this now, really bad, even though it doesn't sound like my usual thing. Must find a copy.

PS: the cover is AWESOME.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yeah, that's a great cover. Nice design.

Anonymous said...

I got the Goliath Bone and
The Big Bang. Read the former and it was pretty good-- didn't make me jump and shout, but I enjoyed it.
Your description of Kiss Her Goodbye fires me up, though. Comparing the climactic shoot-out with the one in One Lonely Night pretty cinches me buying the book in short order.
One Lonely Night is kind of the Ne Plus Ultra Mike Hammer book for me. A rich slather of ultra-noir atmosphere, paranoid conspiracy, brazen sexuality and stunning violence. First read it when I was about 16 and it left me glassy-eyed and overwhelmed.

John Hocking

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I think you'll be impressed, John. As I noted above this is my favorite of the three new ones. I agree completely about One Lonely Night, though I think my favorite of the classic Hammers remains My Gun is Quick.

Tex said...

Geez, Mr.R! First you clew me onto a book I was over 25 years late to the party for, and now you let me know that there's THREE new Mike Hammer books out there! Goes to show what lousy bookstores we have down here in the bog.

(about to go spend more money on Mike and Mickey)

PS--Word verification: grale. Close enough to Grail to tell you how important these books are to me. THANK YOU!

Charles R. Rutledge said...

It's funny how that word verification sometimes throws up an appropriate word. I think you'll really enjoy the new Hammers. Collins, to my mind, is the only guy who could have finished them up. Glad I was able to clue you in.