Posts Tagged ‘Quarry in the Middle’

Love for Mike Hammer

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

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.


More on Collaboration and Reviews

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

You Can't Stop MeThis is a big week for us, with ANTIQUES BIZARRE and YOU CAN’T STOP ME going on sale everywhere. Hard to imagine two more different books, but I’m starting to hear from fans who are into both the cozy-ish if wacky mysteries about Brandy and her eccentric mother, and my more noir-ish stuff, like YOU CAN’T STOP ME, Nate Heller and Quarry.

Speaking of Quarry, over the weekend I delivered the new Quarry novel, QUARRY’S EX. It will be out this fall from Hard Case Crime. And yes, we do actually meet Quarry’s ex-wife, the woman whose faithlessness sent our anti-hero into the tailspin of professional killing. It has an indie movie set setting, and takes place in 1980. I have now done four Quarry novels for editor Charles Ardai – tying the four written back in the mid-‘70s for editor Patrick O’Connor at Berkley Books. There is serious talk of the first four novels coming out in uniform trade editions from a small publisher.

And I am sorry to inform Heller fans that the new Nate Heller novel, BYE BYE, BABY, will not appear until June 2011. I have done everything I can to ask the editor to move it up the list, but publishing moves in mysterious ways.

Last week, Barb wrote a very well-received column here about our collaboration as “Barbara Allan.” This week, Matt Clemens discusses collaborating with me at my pal Ed Gorman’s great blog.

Here’s a really fun QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE review that explores the RED HARVEST connection.

Publisher’s Weekly has reviewed the audio novel THE LITTLE DEATH and gives it a rave.

But PW also gave THE BIG BANG a less good review (presumably a different reviewer – and I’m not providing a link for this) which indicates how much of a crap shoot even the bigtime reviews are. This reviewer complained that the book would appeal only to Mike Hammer and Mickey Spillane fans (who else was it supposed to appeal to?) and complained that it didn’t read like one of my Nate Heller books (should my Nate Heller books read like Mike Hammer?). Dumb. In the same PW issue, though, a presumably different reviewer seems to like Hammer and his appearance in a forthcoming MWA anthology, CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT: MYSTERIES FROM THE DARK SIDE, saying:

“Mike Hammer gets into X-Files mode in Max Allan Collins’s and Mickey Spillane’s ‘Grave Matter,’ which successfully introduces a supernatural element into the case of a series of mysterious deaths in the ironically named town of Hopeful, N.Y.”

Meanwhile, the first Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer outing, THE GOLIATH BONE, is still getting positive reviews, including this fun one from a blogger.

Here’s an insightful review of the collection MEAN STREETS, which includes the Nate Heller story, “House Call.”

And, yup, THE LAST LULLABY keeps getting great notices, as on this blog.

Finally, courtesy of Nate Collins who saw it, ROAD TO PERDITION has been listed as one of the 75 must read’s in DC Comics’ 75 years of publishing. That will be 76, when RETURN TO PERDITION comes out!


The Maltin Falcon

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I’ve posted a number of links lately to reviews of THE BIG BANG, YOU CAN’T STOP ME and ANTIQUES BIZARRE, as well as older books of mine. But this week I’m happy to report that some nice write-ups appear in current issues of bigtime national newstand magazines. You know – the kind you can hold in your hand and turn the pages.

Antiques BizarreANTIQUES BIZARRE – due out next week – received a splendid four-star review in the March 2010 RT BOOK REVIEWS (RT standing for ROMANTIC TIMES). The magazine always leads off with a review followed by a spoiler-free plot summary. Among other things, RT describes the novel as “a cozy with a twist” and “hysterically funny as well as a solid mystery.” An insightful comment notes that our protagonist Brandy “has an unusually realistic life in all its messiness.”

Jon Breen leads off his Jury Box column in the March/April ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE with high praise for Hard Case Crime, singling out three books for excellent three-star reviews (Jon does not bestow 1/2 stars, a three-star review is second only to a four-star one in the Jury Box). He describes yours truly as “one of the best and most prolific and versatile crime writers currently practicing,” and QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE as a “most welcome 1980’s flashback,” and wraps up saying, “Neat plot, fine style, fast reading.” Jon – just about the best scholar in best mystery fiction, and a fine mystery novelist in his own right/write – has been a supporter of my work for decades, and to whatever degree I have a respectable reputation, he has played a major role. The first review I ever received in a national magazine was from Jon in EQMM…for one of the early Quarry novels.

And I know you will want to read the March PLAYBOY for its articles – particularly one small, snazzy one. PLAYBOY gives the forthcoming THE BIG BANG a solid write-up under the heading KILLER FICTION – HAMMER LIVES, including a full-color shot of the ‘60s pop-art front cover of the novel. Among other nice things, the review/mini-article says, “Max Allan Collins, Spillane’s collaborator and author of Road to Perdition, has expertly completed a second Spillane novel, The Big Bang, out this spring. The book will transport you back to gritty 1960s Manhattan, where Spillane’s antihero Mike Hammer drops acid and takes on the mob.” What a thrill to get such great coverage from the very magazine I used to steal out of the mailbox before my father knew it had arrived.

There are few movie reviewers that I admire or trust, but Leonard Maltin is one of them. Time for one of those “full disclosure” things: we are friends. We became friends after I did a DICK TRACY movie interview for him and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT back in 1990 – he called me up and dubbed me, “Mr. Sound Bite.” Our mutual obsessive love for movies, particularly of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, fed a wonderful friendship. Yes, he has given me occasional good reviews, but he doesn’t always like what I do (he was a fan of MOMMY, for example, but didn’t think much of MOMMY’S DAY). I find myself agreeing with him more often than not, and you can follow his reviews and pop culture commentary at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

He is also, of course, the author of the annual, indispensable LEONARD MALTIN’S MOVIE GUIDE. Five years ago, he was forced to publish a second book to include the older movies that time and space had shoved out of his regular guide – LEONARD MALTIN’S CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE. For those of us who live by Turner Classic Movies and who spend way too much money at Warner’s Archive (at, this book is similarly indispensable. The second edition of this has just come out. If you love movies, you need both of these books stacked in a handy place in your home theater (in my case, next to my recliner in the living room).

151 Best Movies You've Never SeenAt the same time, a book that I would rank with Leonard’s best has also been published: 151 BEST MOVIES YOU’VE NEVER SEEN. I am a movie buff, pretty hardcore, but I had heard of only about half of these, and had seen only around 25. These are short – page and a half – chatty reviews in Leonard’s deceptively easygoing style, personal without being obnoxious, informative without being pedantic, one of those books that go down in wonderful handfuls, like popcorn. Most of the films are of fairly recent vintage – last ten years or so – and perhaps a third are foreign; one of the surprises is how few Golden Age era films Leonard discusses.

But one of the vintage movies he praises really made me smile – the much-maligned 1931 version of THE MALTESE FALCON. He does not make a case for it being superior to the 1941 John Huston/Bogart classic – even I wouldn’t do that – but he does sing its praises in a manner that makes you want to drop everything and watch it right now. That’s true of every essay in the book, and you – like me – will likely make a list of movies you want to find on DVD or on cable, as soon as you have finished this great book.

Musical note: Crusin’ had a capacity crowd for the Valentine’s Day dinner dance at Piazza Bella. Lovely evening. For those concerned, please know that we did not play “Pussy Whipped.”


Collins Hits The Third Rail

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Ron Fortier has posted a wonderful write-up on YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

Craig Clarke has posted a terrific review of THE LITTLE DEATH at his Somebody Dies review site.

And a great, dare I say insightful review of THE LAST LULLABY just popped up.

Plus, there’s a very nice review of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE.

My pal Ed Gorman limits himself on talking politics on his blog because, well, politics causes problems. It can alienate people, and that includes readers/fans, so it’s dangerous ground. Ed sends out political stuff to an e-mailing list, material that is always interesting and illuminating.

I am going to dip a toe into this subject, lightly. Some of you know that I’m a Democrat or a liberal or a progressive or something. I think of myself as slightly left of center, but my father thought of himself as slightly right of center, when he was slightly right of Genghis Khan. So who knows? I do know that I veer left when the right is getting out of hand, which they frequently do. I despise Fox News, because it isn’t news, it’s opinion labeled news, and you can always tell when you’re “talking” (i.e, arguing) politics with somebody whose news and info comes from Fox, because it’s always the same bite-size talking points.

But I come to praise Republicans, not to bury them. Republicans stand by their man. They wouldn’t have cared if George Bush bombed Cleveland – he’d have had a damned good reason. Democrats, however, eat their young. They could hardly wait for Obama to get sworn in before ragging on him. The far left is pitiful in the way they assume the President can wave a wand and make all their dreams come true. Full disclosure: I worked for Obama, Nate was a staffer on the Iowa campaign, and Barb, Nate and I all worked hard for him. None of us is thrilled with the past year, but I think it’s clear Obama has accomplished quite a bit, considering the Washington cess pool he has to swim in. I back the guy. I don’t always agree with him, but I keep it to myself, mostly. Possibly I’m keeping my head in the sand. Maybe, after two years of MSNBC and Keith Olbermann “Special Comments,” I just can’t take the stress anymore (I stopped watching that stuff regularly in January).

But if Democrats don’t show a little support for their guy – if they insist on forming a circular firing squad around their leader – we can look forward to President Palin or Brown or God knows what. The only faint hope for the Democrats right now is the Tea Bag bunch (can’t hear that designation without thinking of John Waters), who are forcing the Republicans so far right that even Fox should be getting nervous. Kind of sad when our best hope is a bunch of buffoons who want to prove Obama wasn’t born in America. But keep plugging, kids.

This update appears on Feb. 2 – Groundhog Day. May I suggest to one and all spending the evening with Harold Ramis’ great film, GROUNDHOG DAY – probably my favorite film of the ‘90s, Bill Murray’s finest achievement, and a genuine masterpiece.