Love for Mike Hammer

April 6th, 2010 by Max Allan Collins

This time around, it’s pretty much strictly links and a few review excerpts. Speaking of which, my essay on the “lost” Mike Hammer novels got picked up all over the place, including such key websites as January Magazine, Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine, and Paul Bishop’s Bish’s Beat.

I am planning a “Lost” Mike Hammer Novels Part Two that will explore why Mickey left so many unfinished works behind, but my webmaster Nathan Collins (currently visiting us with his crazy loveable Australian Blue Heeler, Toaster, in tow) has advised me to post that piece closer to the release date of the novel (MAY 14).

Over the years, I have had many, many terrible reviews from the notoriously tough Kirkus. Well, boys and girls and moms and dads, Hell has frozen over :

The Big Bang
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / May / 9780151014484

Expect Mickey Spillane’s stock to go up, up, up—bang! bang! bang!—when The Big Bang hits in May. Co-written with Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition (2002), this latest Mike Hammer caper should earn Spillane a place in the pantheon of thriller writers. Sentences are packed with gritty detail, action scenes have more kicks and slams than a championship karate playoff and the plot—Hammer takes on the narcotics mob on the eve of a big heroin shipment to Manhattan in the mid-’60s—is tight.”

You will have to scroll down to the Mysteries section to read the entire review, which includes a few quotes from an exclusive interview I did with the Kirkus reviewer.

We also got a very solid review from Library Journal. I don’t have a link handy, so I’ll quote it in its entirety:

Welcome to Greenwich Village, circa the mid-1960s, complete with go-go girls, miniskirts, easy sex, and the acrid smell of hemp everywhere. Onto the scene lumbers Mike Hammer, a self-professed Neanderthal and card-carrying carnivore who happily ogles the goods on display but can’t quite heartily embrace the offerings. That’s the sorrow at the heart of this latest “collaboration” between Spillane (1918–2006) and the prolific, protean Collins (Road to Perdition), who was chosen by Spillane to inherit his incomplete manuscripts. When Mike witnesses a bicycle messenger being mugged, he characteristically retaliates by gleefully killing two tie-dye-wearing druggies and seriously wounding a third. Subsequent murders, though, seem to suggest that it’s Hammer who’s the real target. Who’s out to do in Hammer? The image of a brooding figure contemplating the decline evident all around him, along with characters done in broad strokes, invite comparisons with Batman.

VERDICT To dismiss this as bottom-drawer Spillane would mean missing out on an enormously entertaining confection with its politically incorrect views, giving fans of the Mad Men TV series as well as proponents of vigilante justice something to talk about over the watercooler.

Also, I’d like to thank Craig Zablo for giving THE BIG BANG such a nicely splashy welcome at his site.

And THE BIG BANG makes a big splash at the Murder Mystery Mayhem site, too.

YOU CAN’T STOP ME’s Kindle bestsellerdom has generated an interesting review, whose writer asked me to do a brief interview (the review comes first followed by the interview).

And Kindle has generated a smart review of A KILLING IN COMICS, from my short-lived (so far anyway) Jack and Maggie Starr series. I wanted to do at least one more with Dr. Wertham as the murder victim, and maybe someday it will happen.

The Strand Magazine has two Collins reviews in its current issue, available now at Barnes & Noble, Borders and other outlets. Here’s an excerpt from Neal Alhadef’s review of the audio book, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER, VOL. 2: THE LITTLE DEATH:

Stacy Keach does a fine job as Mike Hammer, as does the rest of the cast. Freed from the constraints of network television, this version of Hammer is closer to what appears in the Spillane novels than anything Keach has done before. Violence, language, and sex are intensified to a Spillanian level. No attempt is made to hide the years of experience that color Keach’s voice. In fact, the story makes reference to Mike being older, much as was done in the most recent Spillane/Collins novel, The Goliath Bone….THE LITTLE DEATH is yet another strong Mike Hammer story from Max Allan Collins. As long as Collins is working on Hammer, Mickey Spillane can be sure that his readers, and now listeners, are well taken care of. THE LITTLE DEATH is highly recommended.

Neal also reviews QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE for the Strand, and here’s an excerpt from that excellent write-up:

Quarry in the Middle is an excellent addition to the Quarry series. Collins begins with a killer sentence that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go until all the twists and turns have been navigated. Like all the Quarry books, Quarry in the Middle is highly recommended.

In trolling for these reviews, I was surprised but pleased to see my name turning up in reviews for a lot of other people’s books – linking with Elmore Leonard and other greats in the genre as influences. You can’t imagine how pleased I am to still be alive to see that kind of thing….

Here’s an interesting illustrated history of the MIKE DANGER comic book character, from Mickey Spillane’s original creation of the Mike Hammer prototype to our collaborative science-fiction take on him.

The film ROAD TO PERDITION continues to grow in stature, and this write-up is a good indicator of why.


A photo of me, Mickey Mouse, Mickey Spillane, Leonard Nimoy and Neil Gaiman has been tweeted all over kingdom come. Disneyworld in the early ‘90s, when Techno Comix was getting its launch. MIKE DANGER, the Spillane/Collins collaboration, was probably the most popular of the titles and ran two full years. Regular readers of these updates know that I am a first-generation STAR TREK fan, so you can imagine how giddy I was to be hanging out with Leonard Nimoy. I had brief but lovely chat with him about Sherlock Holmes, who he played on several occasions.

Right now, I’m back to working on the script for THE NEWS ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER Vol. 3: THE LITTLE DEATH, which Stacy Keach will record next month…assuming I finish it. I’m a week away from starting my draft on the second Harrow novel with Matt Clemens.


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