Posts Tagged ‘The Goliath Bone’

Morgan The Raider #2: 44 Years In The Making!

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

I have just completed THE CONSUMMATA, the Morgan the Raider novel of Mickey’s that I finished for Hard Case Crime. It just went out via e-mail to editor Charles Ardai a few hours ago. I’m very pleased with it, but it was a tricky one. Mickey had completed 108 double-spaced pages, but this time I had no plot or character notes. Even the evocative title itself (which had been announced by Signet Books many years ago) went unexplained. It required really getting inside the manuscript, and Mickey’s head, to figure out where he was headed…and I think I pulled it off.

So finally, the sequel to THE DELTA FACTOR, the second Morgan the Raider novel (Signet Books announced modern-day pirate Morgan as Mickey’s new series character with great fanfare), will appear…with Mickey’s fans only having to wait 44 years.

My technique I’m sure would dismay purists. I expanded and revised Mickey’s hundred-plus pages, weaving my own scenes and thoughts and style in and around his, so that his material appears deep into the book, nine of its thirteen chapters. (I created no new characters, however, and my plot strictly flows out of things he put in motion.) I get a lot of praise (much appreciated) for the seamlessness of these collaborations, but it’s because I treat them as collaborations – and don’t just “pick up where Mickey left off” that they are able to achieve what they do.

This is going to be an extremely big year for me, at least in terms of how much stuff will be out there. I will do a post on that subject either next week or soon thereafter.

The First Quarry Audiobook
The First Quarry Audiobook

One thing that is out right now is the audio book of THE FIRST QUARRY. I haven’t heard this yet, but it’s the same reader (Curt Palmer) who did THE LAST QUARRY, and he’s excellent. This company, Speaking Volumes, will be doing more Quarrys – all the Hard Case titles and perhaps the early books, as well. It’s only $19.95, very reasonable for an audio book.

Vince Keenan considers THE BIG BANG one of the best books of the year. Hey, Vince – me, too!

The Sons of Spade website went even farther, calling THE BIG BANG the best P.I. book of the year.

This is very gratifying, and we showed up a few other places, too, but mostly were overlooked. This is the first year in a while that Bookgasm hasn’t listed me on the best books of the year. As I have made clear here before, I despise these lists, and give them absolutely no credence…unless I am on them.

There’s a lovely post about THE GOLIATH BONE, which posits a movie version and presents a dream cast. Very much worth checking out, plus I posted a comment you may find of interest.

There is a very interesting piece about the BATMAN character Two-Face and the similar Haf-and-Haf character in DICK TRACY, discussing my work on the latter and referencing my BATMAN work in general. I provided several comments and you may find the back-and-forth interesting.

Finally, the contest remains open for anyone who can identity my two sections of the Top Suspense Group “Round Robin” short story (see below for details). So for nobody has won. Well, almost nobody…my son Nathan pegged ‘em. Nice going, Nate! Too bad you don’t need any M.A.C. books….


Getting A Big Bang Out Of Quarry

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Big BangThe Big Bang UK edition

Some nice stuff popped up on the M.A.C. front this week on the web.

We’ve had lots of really great reviews for THE BIG BANG, but this one from top UK critic Mike Carlson, who really knows his stuff, is probably my favorite. Mike was not a big fan of THE GOLIATH BONE, so getting this rave from him means a great deal.

Jedidiah Ayres has been reading the new Perfect Crime reprints of the first five QUARRY novels (available on line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble), and he’s talked about them several places. Check out his Barnes and Noble column, and this blog entry.

I am getting great comments from readers about these new QUARRY reprints – everybody seems to find them really handsome books and Terry Beatty’s covers are getting a terrific response. Even if you have the other editions on your shelf, you’ll find these worthwhile. Plus, my new intros are worth the price of admission! Well, not really, but you’ll probably enjoy them….

Jeffrey Goodman, director of the Quarry-based film THE LAST LULLABY, showcased the new Quarry reprints on his blog.

Another of those lists of “great movies that you didn’t know came from comic books” popped up, and had this nice write-up about ROAD TO PERDITION. We seem to be number one on the list.

And THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: VOLUME TWO, THE LITTLE DEATH, has been named one of the best audio books of the year by AudioFile Magazine (in the “Full Cast” category).

Over at the Top Suspense Group web site, we are starting a publication of a round robin story (two 250-word installments each), featuring me, Vicki Hendricks, Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Harry Shannon and Dave Zeltserman. Check it out.


Quarry’s Latest Hit

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE has racked up another nomination, this time for the Barry Award (given via George Easter’s fine magazine Deadly Pleasures). This news popped up all over the internet, on the mystery-oriented sites anyway, but here’s the Deadly Pleasures site’s own coverage with the other nominees and a few comments from editor Easter.

This puts me in an increasingly tough spot – Barb and I had decided not to attend Bouchercon this year, due to both time and financial concerns, but both of these awards (the Barry and the Anthony) are given at the con. So is the Shamus – actually, at an event away from the con but held during it – and if I am lucky enough to snag a Shamus nom for QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE, Barb and I may have to reconsider. On the other hand, there are those who would not consider that novel a P.I. novel (although it actually is, in its twisted way), which could work against its chances for a nomination.

I continue to get great feedback on THE BIG BANG, and one of the coolest reviews yet has appeared at Book Reporter. Check it out.

The Goliath Bone Audio CD Barb and I listened to Stacy Keach’s reading of THE BIG BANG on a roadtrip last week, and I couldn’t have been more tickled. He does an incredible job, bringing out all the wry humor and toughness. If you are a fan of mine and/or Mickey’s, and haven’t checked out Stacy’s readings of THE BIG BANG and THE GOLIATH BONE, you are really, really missing out.

Speaking of THE GOLIATH BONE, a mass market paperback will be out in August from Vanguard. Mike Hammer’s future is tied closely to the success or failure of this edition, so any way you can support it will be appreciated. I know some fans have indicated they prefer to buy Mickey in mass market, because that’s how they’ve always bought the books. (Some collectors like to have editions of equal height to line up nicely on a shelf.)

I’m going to make a few recommendations. If you haven’t seen the excellent Starz comedy PARTY DOWN (just wrapped up its second season), you need to check it out via the recently released DVD of the first season. This great, little-known show has an incredible cast, sports surprising guest stars, and is at least as good as 30 ROCK and THE OFFICE (both of which I like). It’s a work place comedy – caterers in Hollywood, mostly actors forced into a mildly degrading day job – co-created and sometimes written by Rob Thomas, VERONICA MARS creator. Kristen Bell, Veronica herself, appears in several episodes (hilariously), and any number of veterans of that great P.I. show turn up as regulars (Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen) and guest stars (Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni). The great Jane Lynch is in the first ten episodes, and Martin Starr of FREAKS & GEEKS is a regular as a nerd snob. Lots of faces from THE STATE, from which RENO 911 sprang. You should watch from the beginning, though – Barb, Nate and I picked up midway first-season, and it’s just enough of a continuing story that your enjoyment will suffer if you don’t start at the top.

We have enjoyed several recent films: the very funny GET HIM TO THE GREEK, the surprising sleeper s-f thriller SPLICE, and Jackie Chan’s genuinely moving KARATE KID remake. I work at home, and I love movies – actually I love movie popcorn – and we try to get out to a movie once a week, which means I often force myself to go to something that seems only of middling interest. All of these fell into that category, and each one proved much more worthwhile than movies I’d expected to enjoy (and didn’t) like the idiotic ROBIN HOOD, the abysmal ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the over-stuffed IRON MAN 2.

I want to thank those of you who stopped by to discuss what the title of the JFK assassination Heller might be. Right now it’s ASK NOT. Research proceeds apace, and my biggest job right now is figuring out what – and what not – to read of the perhaps sixty books I’ve assembled. I hope to be writing by August.

In the meantime, “Barbara Allan” has submitted the first chapter and synopsis of ANTIQUES DISPOSAL, and Matt Clemens and I are awaiting editorial reaction to the second Harrow, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU. Wish us luck, or maybe “break a leg,” since this is after all show business….


The “Lost” Mike Hammer Novels

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

PlaymorCharlie Koenigsacker (Crusin’ sound man during Bruce era), his sister Karlyn (longtime friend), and M.A.C.
at theBAR at Plamor on March 17.

Before I discuss the upcoming BIG BANG in particular and the new Mike Hammer novels in general, I want to share several more great reviews with you.

A site called Reader Musings has a nice YOU CAN’T STOP ME review.

And Bookreporter has a really wonderful YOU CAN’T STOP ME review.

The lovely Kim Morgan, whose great Sunset Gun is one of my favorite web sites, has posted a typically fine piece on HAROLD AND MAUDE, a movie I love; she was nice enough to quote from something I wrote her about the film a while back.

We also have a great review from Jon Breen in the current ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE. Don’t have a link handy, so I’m taking the liberty of quoting it:

Big BangMickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins: The Big Bang
Penzler/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25.00

*** – In New York of the 1960’s, Mike Hammer confronts the counterculture and battles the drug trade. The tough private eye is sent on an unusual journey late in the going. This one is vastly better than the first posthumous Hammer, The Goliath Bone (reviewed here in March/April 2009), probably because Spillane’s part was written when he was closer to his prime and collaborator Collins was left with more to do. There’s a clever concept at the center of the plot, a fine finishing twist, and plentiful humorous examples of the older writer’s influence on his younger acolyte, a far superior writer.

I have to point out that Jon Breen is not a Spillane fan. He has been a huge booster of mine, for many years, but he has never, ever warmed to Mickey and Mike. Getting a three-star review out of him for THE BIG BANG means that both Mickey and I did something very, very right. Or that I have finally worn him down….

While I like THE GOLIATH BONE a lot, I agree with Jon that THE BIG BANG is much better – it is probably the best ‘60s Hammer after THE GIRL HUNTERS (I exclude THE TWISTED THING, because it was written in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s and withheld for publication until 1966). But I also think KISS HER GOODBYE (the third posthumous Hammer, the “lost” ‘70s novel, out sometime next year) is probably the best of the trio. This shocked me, because I was so happy with THE BIG BANG. But ultimately I think KISS HER GOODBYE is even better.

It’s very important that anybody caring enough to read this update buy THE BIG BANG, and if you haven’t picked up THE GOLIATH BONE, please do so in August when it hits mass-market paperback. It’s crucial that you support these books, and encourage others to buy and read them. I make this plea because there are three other substantial Hammer manuscripts that need completion, and for me to be able to finish those three remaining Hammer novels, these first three have to sell very well. Right now we’re doing okay, but just okay…bewilderingly, foreign publishers have not picked up on GOLIATH BONE or BIG BANG (with the exception of the UK). Considering that Mickey was the most widely translated American author of the 20th Century, that one has me shaking my head.

I’ve discussed this several other places, but here are the three remaining, as yet-to-be-completed Hammer novels:

COMPLEX 90 – a cold war thriller, a sequel to THE GIRL HUNTERS, started around 1964. Mike Hammer goes to Russia and kills lots of Rooskies. Amazing stuff from Mickey in his prime.

LADY GO DIE! – the second, never-completed Mike Hammer novel, written between I, THE JURY and MY GUN IS QUICK (and the postponed TWISTED THING). Mike and Velda vacation in a small town, where a killer is slaying left and right, and Velda gets kidnapped. Written in 1948, the year I was born! A major discovery in the Spillane files.

KING OF THE WEEDS – a book begun in the ‘80s by Mickey, a sort of response to the TV show. It’s a serial killer novel and deals with the impending retirement of Pat Chambers. Mick intended this to be the final Hammer, until 9/11 inspired him to set this book aside and start THE GOLIATH BONE. The lost ‘80s Mike Hammer novel.

All three of these are substantial manuscripts – 100 finished pages or more, with plot and character notes. Some people have the idea that I am writing these by myself, maybe working from scraps of paper or something. Bullshit. These are novels that were well under way when Mickey (for various reasons) set each aside, in every case intending to return to them.

Why is this so important? So what if Spillane left half a dozen half-finished Mike Hammer novels in his files?

I, The Jury Japanese TPBI, THE JURY, Japanese edition, 1958.
Image from Japanese blog Holmes, Doyle, Out-Of-Print Books: Piecemeal Records by Hirobou

Mickey’s first seven novels were the bestselling American mystery novels of all time. In the 20th century, he outsold everybody – from Erskine Caldwell to Stephen King, from Jacqueline Susann to Dean Koontz. In mystery fiction, only Agatha Christie has outsold him worldwide. In America, during Mickey’s heyday, only Erle Stanley Gardner came close.

But the difference is this: Christie wrote 33 Poirot novels and 54 Poirot short stories; Gardner wrote over 80 Perry Mason novels and stories. The great Rex Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin novels and dozens of Wolfe/Archie novellas.

Mickey wrote no formal Mike Hammer short stories (there are a couple of exceptions that I helped find their way into print) and a mere 13 Mike Hammer novels.

For a fictional detective of Hammer’s fame, popularity and influence to have appeared in such a relative handful of books is remarkable in itself. That another six stand to be added to the canon – completed by the writer Spillane chose himself, in his final weeks – is unique in the genre.

It’s particularly interesting (if merely coincidental) that Spillane made his fame and fortune based on six Mike Hammer novels, published between 1947 and 1952 – I, THE JURY; MY GUN IS QUICK; VENGEANCE IS MINE!; ONE LONELY NIGHT; THE BIG KILL; and KISS ME, DEADLY. The entire private eye novel revival of the fifties and the TV show craze it spawned grew out of the success of those half dozen novels.

Now we have six more to add to the canon. Three are a done deal. Three more will not happen unless readers step up to the cash register and sign up as Mickey Spillane’s favorite kind of human: customers.

As a postscript to the above, I must note that there are a number of smaller Hammer fragments in Mickey’s files. I have already turned one of those into a short story, “The Big Switch,” for The Strand Magazine, and just fashioned another Hammer story for The Strand, “A Longtime Dead,” plus the audio Hammer novel in progress, ENCORE FOR MURDER, derives from a one-page novel outline of Mickey’s.

I have four or five potential Hammer novels beyond the six mentioned above, but these would be based on a chapter plus plot notes, in most cases. Not the truly substantial half-dozen manuscripts mentioned. There are several other interesting manuscripts in the files – a rough draft of a Mike Danger novel from the ‘80s; one hundred-plus pages of a second Morgan the Raider novel; a third young adult novel about his Josh and Larry kid characters; and several completed screenplays (all non-Hammer) that could be novelized.

So if Spillane got hot again, there could be ten or fifteen years of wonderful new/old material. But making that happen is not my primary goal.

Adding six more real Mike Hammer novels to the canon is what this effort is about. Three have been done. Readers, help me build enough support to get the other three finished, as well.