Posts Tagged ‘Encore for Murder’

Complex 90 Out Today

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
COMPLEX 90 Audiobook



Audio CD:

Audio MP3 CD:

Actually, COMPLEX 90 – the new Mike Hammer novel – will be published tomorrow, since I write these blog posts a day in advance. The cover we’re showing off here is the Blackstone audio version, read by Stacy Keach. I haven’t heard it yet, but it’s one of the greatest joys of my career to listen to Stacy reading these Spillane/Collins novels on audio.

This is, I think, one of the strongest of the collaborative Hammers, as it answers a lot of questions about Mike and Velda’s relationship, and it’s a sequel to perhaps the Mickey’s best book of the ‘60s – THE GIRL HUNTERS. Yes, the Dragon (the surviving half) is back. What great fun, writing about Mike Hammer in his espionage agent mode in a book begun by Mickey at the height of the James Bond spy craze. Fun, too, imagining Mickey as Mike in a movie playing in your demented brain. Well, my demented brain, anyway.

People often ask how I decide what order to do these books in – I had half a dozen substantial (100 pages or more) Spillane “Hammer” manuscripts to choose from. GOLIATH BONE was a no-brainer choice – it was the final book Mickey was working on, and was the longest manuscript (of the Hammers, that is – DEAD STREET was shy only of the last three chapters). Also, it had a 9/11 aspect that threatened to date it. So it was first up.

THE BIG BANG was a great ‘60s novel, with Hammer taking on drug racketeers, and just a great manuscript from Mickey, with one of his most outrageous endings. It won second position as a way to really show off Mike at his best. KISS HER GOODBYE, with its ‘70s setting and themes, was a natural progression. I held back the greatest find – LADY, GO DIE!, the unfinished sequel to I, THE JURY – for the fourth position, because my initial contract was for three books, and I wanted something very strong to launch the second trio, particularly if I had to change publishers…which I did.

COMPLEX 90 needed to be held back a while, because the anti-Commie aspect of it would only court trouble with the Hammer haters. I needed Mike to be back for a while before going there. Also, though Mickey wrote about Russian espionage in ONE LONELY NIGHT and THE GIRL HUNTERS, the Cold War theme is not what Hammer is best known for.

Shortly (yet this month) I will begin work on KING OF THE WEEDS, a novel designed by Mickey as a sequel to BLACK ALLEY and as the final Hammer novel. Mickey set it aside after 9/11 seemed to require Mike Hammer to wade into the war on terror. So these six novels begin with the final Hammer novel (THE GOLIATH BONE), and wind up with what Mickey had intended to be the final novel (KING OF THE WEEDS), making that the penultimate one, I guess.

Is this the end of the Spillane/Collins Hammer stories? Probably not. I am expanding short Hammer fragments into short stories (most recently in The Strand, “So Long, Chief”), and in two or three more stories will have enough for a collection. There’s also the possibility of doing a book that offers prose versions of the two audio plays. And there are three more significant Hammer fragments that I hope to turn into novels. When I say “substantial” unfinished manuscript, I mean that Mickey left behind at least one hundred pages and often plot and character notes.

When I say “significant” unfinished manuscript, I mean at least forty pages and sometimes plot and character notes.

I am hopeful readers and my current publisher will agree that the Mike Hammer canon should be completed. I see no reason for me to do original Hammer stories, not with the wealth of Spillane material at my fingertips. There are even non-Hammer fragments that could be Hammer-ized if need be. If the movie happens, anything is possible.

* * *

Last week was taken up with preparing materials for my producing partner, Ken Levin, to take with him to LA for meetings. Barb and I wrote up a TV proposal for the ANTIQUES series, and I put together an Eliot Ness in Cleveland TV proposal. In addition, I did a full-scale rewrite of “House of Blood,” turning it from an 85-page feature film script into a 58-page TV pilot script.

This week I’ll be meeting with Matt Clemens to work on the plotting of SUPREME JUSTICE, my second Thomas & Mercer novel. My friend Brad Schwartz and I have been working on a Teddy Roosevelt project, and the screen treatment of that will be finished probably today. Then I will be doing articles for Huffington Post and other web sites to promote COMPLEX 90.

Did I mention it’s coming out today?

A lot of Net activity to report and share.

A Minneapolis radio station has Part One of the Gary Sandy-starring version of MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER produced at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, last year. They will post Part Two next week. This is a lot of fun, but the host gives perhaps the most shambling introduction I have ever heard, starting with a discussion of the character “Mickey Spillane” who debuted on radio before the publication of I, THE JURY. You learn something every day….

The great web site Bookgasm had a lively, complimentary review of ANTIQUES CHOP, now a bouncing baby one week old.

Here’s a nice write-up on COMPLEX 90 at the Geek Girl Project.

I haven’t listened to this interview, but I was on the phone a long time, so be forewarned that you may need Red Bull to make it through. The guys interviewing me were great, but I’m afraid I blathered even more than usual.

Here’s a cool Nerds of a Feather write-up of COMPLEX 90 (out today!) (over doing?).

The news about HOUSE OF BLOOD winning that IMPA award was covered neatly at the Fangoria web site.

The SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT reviews are still comin’ in! Check out this cool one at Nerd Bloggers.

I was very pleased by this NO CURE FOR DEATH review – having a smart reviewer approve of a book written forty years ago is kind of amazing. Not as amazing as me writing it when I was six, but amazing.

This is a very intelligent review of THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF from a guy who forgives me for being a liberal. (I’m taking something for it.)

And at this late date, we’re still being told that ROAD TO PERDITION was based on a graphic novel. Who’da thunk it?

THE TITANIC MURDERS gets a very nice write-up here.

And, finally, here’s the review you were all waiting for – of SKIN GAME, the second DARK ANGEL book (not published today…but still in print!). Matt Clemens co-wrote the DARK ANGEL novels with me, and they are among our best collaborations, in both our opinions.


Nolan on Kindle!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

For the first time, the complete Nolan series is available on Kindle for $4.99 each. These are published by Perfect Crime, who offer them as trade paperbacks, as well. NOTE: The first two Nolans, BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY, are available together on e-book (and real book) from Hard Case Crime.

Check out this terrific LADY, GO DIE! review, and a follow-up interview that I hope is interesting (I’ve done a lot of these in support of this book!)

Crimespree has a nice LADY, GO DIE! review as well.

And here’s a great review of MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN from Ron Fortier. FYI: the prices have gone up at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon on line for this book, $39.95 and $45 respectively. Amazon has it from secondary sellers for just under thirty bucks.

As promised, here is the full list of awards from the International Mystery Writers’ Festival:


BEST MOVIE ACTOR – Eric Altheide
BEST SCRIPT – Max Allan Collins for “Encore for Murder”
BEST FEATURED ACTOR – Richard Fish for Pat Chambers in “Encore for Murder”
BEST ACTOR – Gary Sandy for Mike Hammer in “Encore for Murder”
BEST FEATURED ACTRESS – Amy Walker for Rita Vance in “Encore for Murder”
BEST ACTRESS – Cassie Post for Ariel in “Lost at Sea”
LORD OF MYSTERY – Max Allan Collins
BEST PRODUCTION – “Encore for Murder”

International Mystery Writer’s Festival 2012 photo spread:
Top Row (l t r): M.A.C., Roxi Witt (producer of event), Lee Goldberg, Bob Randisi | M.A.C., Barb | M.A.C.
2nd Row: M.A.C., Lee | Barb, Gary Sandy, M.A.C. | M.A.C., Gary
3rd Row: Roxi, M.A.C., Barb | M.A.C., Gary, Gary’s Mom, Barb | M.A.C., Bob


Colonel Collins, Lord of Mystery

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Barb and I were guests this weekend (actually, we left last Wednesday) for the International Mystery Writers Festival at Owensboro, Kentucky. The event celebrates the world of mystery with a focus on showcasing new plays – three were presented this year, including a new stage-designed version of ENCORE FOR MURDER (the longer audio version of which, starring Stacy Keach, is available from Blackstone Audio, and was a nominee for the Audie).

I was presented with a lovely award designating me the First Lord of Mystery (previous winners, including Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark and Angela Lansbury, were Mistresses of Mystery). Both Barb and I were made honorary colonels by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This is an elite group that includes Colonel Sanders, Colonel Lee Goldberg and Colonel Robert Randisi (the latter two received their colonel-ship at the event as well).

I’m not sure how many plays were submitted, but my impression is quite a few. The other two plays that earned production at the fest were LOST AT SEA by Donald C. Drake (the other Firesign radio-style production) and ABSOLUTELY DEAD by Michael Walker (starring Kathy Garver of FAMILY AFFAIR FAME), the latter the “main stage” play.

The event is held at the River Center in Owensboro on the Ohio River, a lovely, massive modern facility with several stages. One is a 1500-seat theater, the main stage. ENCORE FOR MURDER was staged in a smaller “black box” theater similar to the one where ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE was presented in Des Moines. One highlight was a Lee Goldberg-led interview session, after ENCORE’s premiere, on an expansive patio outside the River Center, with the Ohio River Bridge in the background, where fifteen minutes of clips from my various movies (THE EXPERT, MOMMY, MOMMY’S DAY, REAL TIME, ELIOT NESS, THE LAST LULLABY, ROAD TO PERDITION) were shown on a drive-in-theater-size screen.

People were incredibly nice to us, and we did several signings, as well as just autographing books folks brought up for us to sign as we hung out in the cavernous River Center lobby. Barb and I did a workshop discussing our collaborative approach to the Barbara Allan books, and we attended a similar one given by Bob Randisi and his partner Christine Matthews. Roxi Witt, the manager of the River Center and producer of the event, is a gracious, ebullient hostess whose warmth and kindness are unparalleled.

What made the event really special was the great production of ENCORE FOR MURDER, which was revised and shortened for live production (the original was two and a half hours on audio, and the live version is two acts, each under an hour, with an intermission). Two figures from the legendary Firesign Theater (and regular readers of my updates know what a comedy buff I am) were instrumental in the production. David Ossman co-directed (with his wife Judith Walcutt) and Phil Proctor appeared in three roles, including a very funny Ozzie the Answer, who I described as Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall’s lost love child. Phil’s actress wife Melinda Peterson gave perhaps my favorite Velda performance ever, playing her deadpan as if channeling Keely Smith. Richard Fish made a great Pat Chambers, reminiscent of Paul Sorvino’s in the Assante I, THE JURY, and Amy Walker and Cassie Post were luminous as potential femme fatales. The approach was broader than the original audio, getting all the comic lines across but not camping it up (I had cautioned Phil Proctor that this was Mike Hammer, not Nick Danger). Firesign superstars Ossman and Proctor have been instrumental in presenting radio-style productions at the Owensboro festival. (The festival also presents films and Lee Goldberg debuted his latest short there, produced with the help of the River Center.)

But the MVP player was Gary Sandy. Gary, of course, worked with me on MOMMY’S DAY, and I specifically requested him to play Mike Hammer. Stacy Keach was approached but his schedule wouldn’t allow, and I felt Gary – who lives in Kentucky and had participated in past festivals – would make a great Hammer. And he did. Not easy to step into a role so identified with another actor, but he put his own spin on the role and brought an incredible energy that became the engine of the show. He won Best Actor in the event’s awards, and the play essentially swept those awards.

I am already considering returning next year with a play version of THE LITTLE DEATH.

Next week I hope to have photos for you from the festival and specifically from the production of ENCORE FOR MURDER.

Lee Goldberg, Phil Proctor, and Max

Hard Case Crime has announced my Jack and Maggie Starr novel, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Check out the fun news release here (the cover is depicted…small, but it’s there).

More about the book, and a much larger look at the cover, is here.

Mystery writer Mike Dennis has posted a great review of LADY GO, DIE! at his site.

And another nice review can be found here, at Radiant Lit.

Good ANTIQUES DISPOSAL reviews continue to roll in, like this one.

And this one.

Finally, here’s a fun blog post about a reader who discovered my work when she was ten, thanks to the DICK TRACY novelization. Here’s hoping she got the 6th printing (sold only through schools), which includes the ending.


Can You Feel the Suspense

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

photo by Bryan Leazenby/Onsite Images

Last night Barb and I watched the last run-through of the radio-style play version of ENCORE FOR MURDER, wtih Gary Sandy making a terrific Mike Hammer and a wonderful supporting cast that includes Firesign Theater’s Phil Proctor in three, count ’em three, roles. If you are in driving distance of Owensboro, don’t miss it (tonight is the first of four performances). Nice write-up here.