Posts Tagged ‘The Goliath Bone’

100 Reasons to Love Mickey Spillane

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Spillane 100

How about an advance look at what’s planned for Mickey Spillane’s 100th birthday next year?

Two books will share centerstage – The Last Stand and Killing Town. Both are really special. The Last Stand will feature two novels – a short one circa early ‘50s, A Bullet for Satisfaction, which I co-authored from an unedited rough draft; and a full-length one, entitled (appropriately enough) The Last Stand.

The latter novel is the last book Mickey completed. My contribution has been to give it an edit, based upon comments Mickey made to me when he and I discussed the book shortly after I read it. This was probably around two weeks before he passed. Mickey was working on The Last Stand and two other novels simultaneously, The Goliath Bone and Dead Street (both of which I completed for him).

With his wife Jane Spillane’s permission, I held back The Last Stand until now for several reasons. First, it’s not a typical Spillane novel – it’s more of an adventure novel along the lines of Something’s Down There, the last book published during his lifetime. While we discussed having it published as the first book after his death, ultimately we decided to set it aside, probably for the centenary. I felt it was better to make the Mike Hammer novels a priority – to get them finished and out there. I’ve obviously been doing that, as well as completing (for publication by Hard Case Crime) Dead Street and The Consummata, both crime novels in keeping with a typical Spillane approach.

The Last Stand is a fun novel, a modern-day western and a disguised rumination on the tough guy entering old age, and readers will be very entertained. But I thought for those who might be confused by a lack of certain expected Spillane elements, including the more typical A Bullet for Satisfaction would make for a nicely balanced volume. Satisfaction is a rogue cop revenge tale with lots of sex and violence (the hero’s name is Rod Dexter).

Hard Case Crime will be doing the book in both hardcover and paperback, something they only do occasionally. Publisher Charles Ardai also brought a loving hand in the edit.

So we have the final Spillane novel.

And we have the first Mike Hammer novel.

Wait, what…?

Killing Town is another manuscript I salted away with the centenary in mind. It’s a substantial manuscript, longer than those I’ve been dealing with of late, and it represents Mickey’s first go at doing Mike Hammer, probably circa 1945…predating I, the Jury. I will tell more of the story behind it later, but it’s a novel that takes place in an industrial town in upstate New York with Mike Hammer running a dangerous errand for an army buddy. It could not be more typically vintage Spillane in tone and approach. Titan is publishing in hardcover.

I have not begun my work yet, but it’s the next big project.

We will also in 2018 have the mass market edition of The Will to Kill, the paperback of the Caleb York novel The Bloody Spur, various new audios, and more.

Those of you with blogs might want to think about doing a Spillane piece for 2018. (His birthday is March 9.) I will be writing something for Mystery Scene, and hope to complete a non-Hammer short story for The Strand.

* * *

Here’s a nice piece on Hard Case Crime with an emphasis on comics.

Publisher’s Weekly includes Quarry’s Climax in upcoming books they’re showcasing.

Here’s an audiobook review of The Titanic Murders.

And finally here’s a NSFW link that shows a reader enjoying an advance look at Quarry’s Climax.


Murder Never Knocks

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

[Before we get to this week’s post, a quick update from Nate: Dad has graduated from the ICU to the step-down unit and now on to the inpatient rehabilitation unit where he’s working hard to get back on his feet. Thank you everyone for your outpouring of support, which gave us something we could always turn to when we needed a boost.]

Murder Never Knocks



Audio MP3 CD:


As some of you may know, MURDER NEVER KNOCKS was originally announced – and even listed at Amazon, including cover art – as DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU. I was asked to come up with a different title, more overtly noir/PI, when the Titan sales force noted that sales were better for LADY, GO DIE! and KILL ME, DARLING than for COMPLEX 90 and KING OF THE WEEDS.

Stacy Keach pointed out to me, when we were doing the radio-play-style novels-for-audio, THE LITTLE DEATH and ENCORE FOR MURDER, that all of the Hammer TV movies he starred in had “murder” in the title. That steered me toward the title I finally picked for this novel…or I should say that Titan finally picked, as I gave them half a dozen possibilities.

Mickey’s title, DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU, was in part a tribute to his favorite crime writer, Frederic Brown, who wrote a famous and wonderful story of that title about a demented typesetter. Mickey had two alternate titles, THE CONTROLLED KILL and THE CONTROLLER, which I didn’t think were right for the novel as it developed. Mickey devised some of the greatest titles in mystery fiction – hard to top I, THE JURY and KISS ME, DEADLY – so it’s important that I go with titles that serve him well. I happen to like both COMPLEX 90 and KING OF THE WEEDS as titles – both were Mickey’s choice – but I understand that neither one immediately suggests mystery or suspense. Still, terrific titles, I think.

This time I worked from around thirty pages of Mickey’s, plus some plot notes and the ending of the book. Mickey often spoke about writing the ending first, but this is only one of two times (the other being THE GOLIATH BONE) that I found those endings. By the way, Mickey’s ending for THE GOLIATH BONE was reworked into that of the second-to-the-last chapter of that novel; the actual last chapter is mine, as Mickey’s manuscript was a thriller and did not contain a murder mystery aspect…and I felt it necessary to add that.

On the other hand, several of our collaborative novels reflect endings that Mickey told me about – THE BIG BANG and KING OF THE WEEDS in particular.

It’s also necessary for me to try to figure out when Mickey’s partial manuscripts were written, so that I can set them properly within the chronology, as well as know what books of Mickey’s to read to get me in the right mind set. Initially, I thought MURDER NEVER KNOCKS/DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU was a ’50s manuscript. But interior evidence – for example, mention of certain NYC newspapers that had recently gone out of business – indicated the late ’60s. That allowed me to do some Greenwich Village characters and scenes that reflect the hippie era.

The basic plot has Hammer up against a Moriarty-type villain (as was the case in KING OF THE WEEDS). This time Hammer has been selected by the superstar hitman among hitmen, preparing to retire, for the honor of being his last kill.

MURDER NEVER KNOCKS will be out March 8 – in time for Mickey’s 98th birthday on March 9.

In celebration of that, here’s a fun excerpt from a great interview with Woody Allen in the January issue of WRITTEN BY, the Screen Writer’s Guild magazine. The interviewer notes that the filmmaker became a great reader, despite a lack of a university education. Woody says:

“I read because the women that I liked when I was a teenager lived down in Greenwich Village and they all had those black clothes. The Jules Feiffer women with the black leather bags and the blonde hair and the silver earrings and they all had read Proust and Kafka and Nietzche. And so when I said, ‘No, the only thing I’ve ever read were two books by Mickey Spillane,’ they would look at their watch and I was out. So in order to be able to carry on a conversation with these women who I thought were so beautiful and fascinating, I had to read. So I read. But it wasn’t something I did out of love. I did it out of lust.”


[Nate here:] Two early reviews came in for MURDER NEVER KNOCKS this week. One from the great Mike Dennis (“Score another winner for Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins,” and another from the Garbage File that was decidedly not garbage (“Very enjoyable indeed!”).

The Write Quarry

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It’s very gratifying that THE WRONG QUARRY has generated so much attention, particularly on the Net. This is, after all, the tenth novel in a series begun in 1976. No other book of mine in recent years – including the Heller comeback novels that form the JFK Trilogy – has been so widely reviewed. As I noted a while back, out of what must be around forty write-ups by now, there’s been only one that wasn’t a near rave – and it was mixed.

It appears that a lot of the reviewers and bloggers who dig Quarry are only familiar with the recent five Hard Case Crime novels. I hope that gradually the Perfect Crime reprints, with the cool Terry Beatty covers, will find their way into the hands and minds of these new Quarry fans.

One interesting result of (I presume) younger readers discovering the series through Hard Case is that the premise of Quarry being a hitman who kills other hitmen has been hailed as innovative, and “new” for Quarry specifically and crime novels in general. Of course, many of you who follow these updates (both of you) know that the premise of Quarry using the Broker’s list began back in 1976, in the book now known as (not surprisingly) QUARRY’S LIST. Also, both QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and QUARRY’S EX from Hard Case are “list” novels.

I’m not complaining. I always thought the “list” concept was innovative myself. I just thought that starting back in ‘76….

* * *
Complex 90

Here’s a nice essay utilizing interview answers from me. The emphasis, not surprisingly, is on Quarry and the current novel.

And, yes, wonderful WRONG QUARRY reviews are still appearing, like this one at Crime Fiction Lover.

Here’s a nice one from Fiction Addict.

On the Mike Hammer front, J. Kingston Pierce at the Rap Sheet has singled out his favorite covers of last year and COMPLEX 90 made the list. He’s giving you the opportunity to vote for your favorite among his. Remember, any vote for Mike Hammer is a vote for America.

Here’s an excellent review of THE GOLIATH BONE. There’s also an explanatory comment from me about who-wrote-what.

Finally, here’s an overview of Crime Fiction in Comics and Graphic Novels that includes a nice section on yours truly (I always want to add “Johnny Dollar” to that…).


Edgar Nom and Life with Mickey

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

I am pleased, and a little astonished, that “So Long, Chief,” a short story by Mickey Spillane and me that appeared in the Strand magazine, has been nominated for an Edgar. The story is one of around five I’ve done so far with an eye on developing a Hammer short story collection, utilizing the shorter fragments in Mickey’s files.

I’ve been nominated a bunch of times for Edgars, but this is only my second for fiction (the previous one was for the Ms. Tree prose short story, “Louise”). Nate Heller has never rated a nomination; Quarry either. ROAD TO PERDITION wasn’t eligible in any category because it’s a graphic novel.

This nomination rights an embarrassing wrong: while he was named a Grand Master Edgar by the MWA (thanks to the efforts of Don Westlake, Otto Penzler and others), this is Mickey Spillane’s first Edgar nomination.

Barb and I have not decided whether we’ll attend the awards ceremony in New York. If I go, I may jinx it, and we already have trips planned this year for San Diego Con and Bouchercon. And I have a lot of work on my plate. We’ll see.

See the full list of short story nominees, and my stiff competition, here.

In other Spillane news, there’s a Mickey book that I didn’t write that’s about to come out: MY LIFE WITH MICKEY by the effervescent Jane Spillane. I can’t wait to read this myself. Mickey’s lovely widow has attracted lots of press, particularly in the South. Check this wonderful piece out.

I should note that the journalist got one bit a little wrong – Jane found a section of the climax of THE GOLIATH BONE in Mickey’s pick-up, complete with post-it’s…not LADY, GO DIE! To order MY LIFE WITH MICKEY, go here.

I have wrapped up QUARRY’S CHOICE. It went out yesterday to editor Charles Ardai, and was one of the harder Quarry novels for me. First, I had the potential TV series hanging over my head (still no news); and second, in the midst of much reviewer love for the hitman-killing-hitmen aspect of recent Quarry novels, CHOICE is only the third novel to deal with Quarry when he was working for the Broker. (There’s also a short story.) There’s a lot of sex in this one. How much? Well, Barb said I’m now officially a dirty old man.

She’s kidding, of course (aren’t you, honey?) but it touches upon the reaction some reviewers and readers have to the sex in my novels, particularly Quarry ones. Are these scenes gratuitous? Well, a book as dark and violent as any Quarry novel is inherently gratuitous. But I try to use sex scenes for characterization purposes. In THE WRONG QUARRY, a casual, nasty bit of back alley sex shows Quarry and the woman at a sort of low moral ebb; but a later, tender sexual encounter between them reveals they have stirred better impulses in each other. Similarly, an over-the-top sex scene involving a barely legal wild child means to demonstrate its relative emptiness compared to conventional but loving sex with a much older woman. Anyway, that’s what I hope those scenes do.

Scenes of violence in Quarry novels tend to be either very understated (“I got out the wrench”) or go into gory Spillane-style excessive description. A flat scene of violence can indicate the protagonist’s emotional numbness to such carnage; a highly descriptive depiction of that carnage can remind you of the actual physical and human toll.

I share these thoughts with you, because a good number of the reviews – and I mean the positive ones – of THE WRONG QUARRY talk about the book as pulpy fun, and I hope that’s the case, because as I said here last week, I consider the books to be black comedies. But in my novels – in any good fiction dealing with sex and violence – such scenes do not occur in a vacuum. They intend to reveal character.

The reviews of THE WRONG QUARRY continue to roll in. This is one of my most-reviewed books of recent years, and really only one of them (probably numbering close to 35 by now) could be called mixed or negative. (Guess which review I fixate upon.)

I was thrilled to get this glowing notice from one of the key reviewers in contemporary mystery/crime fiction, J. Kingston Pierce at the Rap Sheet.

Careful reading this fun review – there’s a major spoiler (I had to ask the reviewer to attach a SPOILER WARNING before the paragraph in question, which she graciously did).

Here’s another good one.

And another.

Finally, here’s yet another did-you-know-it-was-a-comic-book rewrite about ROAD TO PERDITION, book and film.