Posts Tagged ‘Kiss Her Goodbye’

Kill Him Goodbye

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

As I write this, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s news is fresh – my son Nate called me late Sunday night to tell me that Bin Laden had been killed and that the President was about to speak – so I don’t feel comfortable this week with my normal plug-flung update.

I live in the Midwest, and Mickey Spillane (for much of his later life) lived in the South, but Mike Hammer was the quintessential New Yorker. Mickey felt strongly about Bin Laden’s assault on his city and his country…so much so that his last Mike Hammer novel, which I had the honor of completing, was a 9/11 story (THE GOLIATH BONE).

Goliath Bone

I can say this much: somewhere Mickey is smiling. I know Mike Hammer is. Bin Laden taking a bullet in the eye is perfect. Couldn’t have written it better myself. Even Mickey couldn’t have.

The book I was working on when the Twin Towers went down was THE LUSITANIA MURDERS. That particular crime/disaster had eerie echoes of 9/11, and I immediately questioned whether I should go on with it. Again, as a Midwesterner, I do a lot of business in New York, and for several days I was doing my best to get in touch with editors and friends (my agent Dominick Abel and my mentor Don Westlake among them), to make sure they were alive and well. It was an odd time, and for several weeks, a lot of us in the storytelling game – particularly those who deal in crime and violence – found ourselves questioning exactly what it is we do.

Soon writers and other entertainers came to their senses – storytelling is in the blood of the human race – but it was a self-reflective and extremely weird time. Weird enough for Mickey to set aside one “last” Mike Hammer novel (the still-to-be-completed KING OF THE WEEDS) to begin another (THE GOLIATH BONE). He wanted Mike Hammer to weigh in.

This is from THE GOLIATH BONE. It is a passage mostly written by Mickey. It was on a scrap of his distinctive yellow paper and perhaps was not meant for the novel, but I felt it was perfect and wove it in:

You stand at the heart of New York City and look east to where the twin monuments once stood, gargantuan edifices that reached into the sky proclaiming wealth and power and hopefully indicating peace. There’s an oddball quietness there now, not the absence of noise, but the stillness of sounds that people make, like laughter and satisfaction. As they go by that once busy avenue that housed the magnificent businesses of the world, they avert their eyes, their voices become subdued but, if you listen real close, you can hear someone swear at the bastards who tried to murder a city. It’s an empty space now, but some day the snakes who live for destruction across the ocean in their own empty spaces of sand and caves would meet the snapping teeth of the avengers.

In italics, of course.

Speaking of Mickey and Mike, we have had a terrific review from Bookgasm about the forthcoming, very New York-centric Mike Hammer novel, KISS HER GOODBYE. The “her” of the title is New York City. Do check this one out (both the review and the novel).


From The Basement It Arises

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
The Comedy Is Finished

A lost Donald E. Westlake novel, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED, has been announced by editor Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime. My involvement was played down in the news release, but it came about when I told Charles about the existence of an early ‘80s Westlake manuscript in my possession. Don had pulled it from the market when publishers asked him to make it “funnier,” not understanding it was not meant to be a “funny” Westlake. He shared it with me and we were discussing some revision notions; the plan, as I remember it, was to take it out to market under a shared pen name. We were in the early stages of this when the film “The King of Comedy” emerged and shared the novel’s premise (accidentally, I think, although Don did do some things with Martin Scorcese). At this point, Don killed the project.

When Hard Case announced MEMORY as the final unpublished Westlake novel, I scurried down to my basement and found the moldy carbon copy in a drawer of Westlake materials. Re-reading it, I didn’t feel it needed my input at all – a terrific book, but not a funny one (wasn’t meant to be, obviously). I told Charles about it, he responded eagerly and had me send him a photocopy. I was supposed to write an after word for the book, discussing the novel’s origins and my relationship with Don. Since then, I’ve been told that Don’s representation prefers that the book stand on its own, and I respect and understand that. The media releases on this novel won’t tell the full story, because the public might misunderstand and think this was a novel that Don hadn’t been able to sell – no, it’s a fine novel that Don wasn’t willing to revise into a comic one. I’m proud that I had something to do with bringing one of Don’s novels into publication – he was a great friend, mentor and inspiration to me. Here’s how the public was informed, last week, of this rediscovered unpublished novel.

There’s a brief but nice Stacy Keach interview about KISS HER GOODBYE and other Mike Hammer audios here.

I have the idea that YOU CAN’T STOP ME is doing better on e-book than as a “real” book – this week Matt Clemens and I got a great review for the novel at a Kindle blog.

Mallory continues to receive more love, with another brief but nice write-up for the series in general and NICE WEEKEND FOR A MURDER in particular.

A while back I quoted from Dick Lochte’s terrific Mystery Scene review of the audio novel THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER. Here is the full text (you will see a rejected cover for the release for your trouble).

You might enjoy this very interesting review of the film “Slightly Scarlet” from James M. Cain’s LOVE’S LOVELY COUNTERFEIT. It begins my referencing my commentary track from the VCI DVD release.

I will be going off to Hollywood for several days of meetings on various film/TV projects later this week. Wish me luck, or break a leg or whatever.


Thrilled to be Nominated

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

A very pleasant surprise last week (actually, two of them): the International Thriller Writers have nominated YOU CAN’T STOP ME for Best Paperback and the Mike Hammer “Long Time Dead” for Best Short Story.

Matt Clemens and I had been told that YOU CAN’T STOP ME had made the short list of ten for the ITW honor, but we were nonetheless blown away by the actual nomination. This comes at a very good time for us because, frankly, the current Harrow book isn’t burning up the bookstands, and we are (in TV terms) “on the bubble” with the fledgling series.

If you have not read either Harrow – YOU CAN’T STOP ME and the current NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU – maybe this news will be enough to get ya off the dime. I believe the Kindle prices on both books are very low – under five bucks each last time I checked.

And of course it’s very, very rewarding to have a Spillane/Collins collaboration singled out. Some people dismiss the posthumous Spillane material, without even a read, citing “purist” notions about not wanting to subject themselves to a work started by one writer and completed by another. Apparently they never read Ellery Queen.

Anyway, here is the full list of the nominees:

As I’ve said before, one of the cool surprises the net can serve up is a new review for an old book. Here’s a nice one about the Mallory novel, NICE WEEKEND FOR A MURDER. Mallory has been getting a little love lately, out in cyberspace, so maybe one of these days we’ll get him back into print.

OurTop Suspense Group anthology keeps getting great reviews, like this one. There are occasional complaints about typos and inconsistencies story-to-story, and we’re cleaning those up as we can – it’s a home-made effort by pros, understand. You can get it in actual book form now, and it’s really a beautiful-looking book. Reads good, too.

KISS HER GOODBYE keeps racking up nice reviews – this one is from somebody who I frankly think is getting jaded (he likes GOLIATH BONE and BIG BANG better – most reviewers and readers…including Jane Spillane…think KISS HER is the best of the trio), but overall it’s another good one.

Last week Barb and I wrapped up ANTIQUES DISPOSAL and got it shipped (well, e-mailed) to Kensington. We took two days off for a getaway (to Des Moines – yes, our life is a glittering, glorious, glamorous Jet Set fantasy) and came back for a nice weekend (not for murder) with son Nate, his girl Abby and our granddog, the supremely insane Australian Blue Heeler, Toaster. Also got in a really good Crusin’ gig at the local Eagles Lodge Hall, for Eagles pooh-bahs from all over the grand state of Iowa.

It is true, by the way, that Crusin’ will be playing at Bouchercon in St. Louis this fall. We will be having a handful of mystery-writer guests who will join us on a few songs. No instrumental sit-ins (that way lies madness), but we will have some guest vocalists. The first we’ve invited: Bob Randisi. Are you out there, Parnell Hall?


Pleas, Pleas Me

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Before we begin, I have a request – even a plea.

Those of you who recently asked for and received free advance copies of various M.A.C. books, the deal was you’d post a review – some of you have. Others have not. How can I put this gently? Get cracking.

Reviews at Amazon in particular, but also at other sites like rival Barnes & Noble, are very important. I am told that certain Amazon recommendations don’t kick in until a title is at over 20 reviews. So any of you out there enjoying the books, please post a review – it doesn’t have to be worthy of comparison to Jon L. Breen or Anthony Boucher. A simple line – “This is a terrific read!” – will do. Four- and particularly five-star reviews at Amazon are important, because of the average star rating that appears when you search for a title or author. Amazon reviewers have an unfortunate tendency to either post four- or five-star reviews…or one star reviews. And those one-star reviews really pull a title’s rating down. Some of these one-star reviews are frankly imbecilic – like rating a book one-star because it took two weeks for Amazon to ship it.

I am particularly annoyed by people who took advantage of the free Kindle copies we gave out, for several days, or YOU CAN’T STOP ME and ANTIQUES ROADKILL. What kind of a-hole posts a one-star review for a book he or she got free? Why do these people keep reading a book to the end that they don’t like from page one? When they are served a terrible meal, do they wolf it down after that first disgusting bite?

Anyway, your grass-roots support at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders’s and on your own blogs and Facebook pages in general is much, much needed…and appreciated.

ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF continues to get wonderful reviews. We hit the trifecta of the major industry publications, with Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus and now Library Journal reviewing (and liking us). This is from the Library Journal review:

This fifth cozy series entry displays the versatility of husband and wife Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. Scenes of Midwestern small-town life, informative tidbits about the antiques business, and clever dialog make this essential for those who like unusual amateur sleuths.

But my favorite ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF review – one of my favorite reviews for the entire series – comes from that splendid human being and blogger extra ordinaire, Bill Crider. You gotta check this one out. Barb and I were working hard on ANTIQUES DISPOSAL last week, really worn down by the work, and this came in and boosted our spirits incredibly. It should be noted that Bill is a terrific mystery writer his own damn self, and you can find info at his site about his excellent books, when you’re checking out this review.

Speaking of great guys who happen to also be great writers, Ed Gorman has struck again with a wonderful retrospective of the first Quarry novel, in the context of the new Perfect Crime trade paperback reprints. By the way, Perfect Crime has also published an outstanding Gorman short-story collection called Noir 13.

Steve Lewis has a very interesting and insightful review of the forthcoming KISS HER GOODBYE at Mystery File, and the comments include some lengthy ones by me that describe the process of creating new Spillane novels from old unfinished manuscripts.

And here’s a neat review of A KILLING IN COMICS. How I wish I’d been able to do more than just one Jack and Maggie Starr mystery.

I should mention that THE BIG BANG has been nominated for a Scribe (Best Original Novel) by the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers. You can see the other nominees listed at Lee Goldberg’s terrific site (always worth checking out – fun, funny and informative). Lee and I co-founded the organization, but I assure you the fix is not in.

Even Wild Dog got some love this week! All because he wore a hockey mask.

And there’s some very insightful stuff about Ms. Tree, with a smart feminist perspective, at Ink-stained Amazon. This is Part Four, but you can find your way to the previous parts as you scroll down. I think the bulk of the Ms. Tree material is right here in Part Four, though.

Today, Barb and I will very likely complete ANTIQUES DISPOSAL. The book is essentially written but we are in Day Two of our final tweaks. After ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF has done so well, we’re a little intimidated. KNOCK-OFF essentially completes the first story arc (took five books to do it). DISPOSAL introduces another story arc, this time designed to span three books. This time we’re dealing with the auction of storage units whose owners are either in arrears or have disappeared. Murder and hilarity ensues…or anyway, they better….