Tag Archives: Max Allan Collins

Lady Go Die! – Max Allan Collins / Mickey Spillane

Lady Go Die! – A hard-boiled noir novel published by Titan Book 2012, running 241 pages.

In the Mickey Spillane ‘Mike Hammer’ universe, this novel is set to take place between the original Mike Hammer novel “I, The Jury” written in 1947, and “My Gun Is Quick” written in 1950.

Shooting a gun out of a crooked cop’s hand in his own police station with the chief watching… even in a small town like Sidon, that takes balls. So much so that I’m amazed Mike can walk through the front door without turning sideways. But here we are, and Mike Hammer continues to be a champion of the downtrodden, and of a local beachcomber on the receiving end of some ‘enhanced interrogation’ by local cops. This mind you, is Mike on vacation.

Max Allan Collins does a great job of writing this story, published in 2012, as if it were written in the late 1940’s timeline. There is a scene in the novel where Mike is sitting down with his friend Pat, a homicide detective and they are discussing the various aspects of what defines a serial killer. This conversation is written into the story because the writer, of a work in the late 1940’s wouldn’t assume that his readers would know well what a ‘serial killer’ is. It reminded me very much of how Poe had to lay down the various aspects of what a detective is when he wrote the Murders In The Rue Morgue because he couldn’t assume that his readers would know.

Reflecting on this collaboration of Spillane and Collins, I can’t recall if there are references to Mike’s war-time service in this novel. Mickey makes sure to underscore Mike’s ease around violence by referencing his service record fighting the ‘Japs’. The first three novels were written right after the war, with a reader base of veterans who had served.

But Max makes a point of Mike being more introspective of the violence that he needs to employ to meet out justice to those who richly deserve it.

“And Mike – you’re the goddamnedest, most cold-blooded killer I have ever seen in my life. And… you’re good at it.”
I looked down at my hands and suddenly the weight of the .45 under my left shoulder seemed a little too heavy. When I looked up my face was tight.
“I’ve had judges tell me that more than once. I can’t say I liked it.”
He didn’t back off an inch. “Well, tough shinola, sport! Because it happens to be true. I know you. Any time you pull the trigger, you are in the right. The bleeding hearts will never understand people like us. So feel flattered instead of getting touchy about it. I’ve killed people too and never lost sleep over it.”
That was more than I could say.
“Anyway,” he said with an awful casualness, “you’re a killer, not a murderer… and murderers need killing. Somebody has to do it. And I’m electing you.”

Mike is aware that there is a price to pay, and internal toll that all this takes on him. He’s perfectly willing to take that on, and not show that cost to others, and even as others blasely brush it of as a necessary evil… its easy for them, they don’t actually have to do it. Mike is there, and Mike will do it, because that’s how he rolls. But contrary to popular opinion, he doesn’t go looking for it.

But another reason I love reading writing like this…

Bill was one of those medium guys – medium build, medium height, medium weight, with the kind of face they build crowds out of.

C’mon, how can you NOT love a line like that. And this novel is littered with those gems at almost every turn of the page…

Quarry – Max Allan Collins

Quarry – I’ve just finished ready Max Allan Collin’s first Quarry novel. I decided to buy the Hard Case Crime edition of this work published in 2015. Originally this story was published in 1975 as The Broker, but I am working on a goal of reading all of the Hard Case Crime published works so, this is the edition for my library.

Physically dark, aesthetically dark, metaphorically dark the climax comes after midnight, a rainy midnight in a poorly lit rendezvous, a quarry outside of town away from any prying eyes. The ‘quarry’ stone theme runs through the book, but so does this idea of swimming, a cleansing I think… the author keeps coming around to swimming and I think ‘there’s something in the water here’. Peg bathes every time after sex… Mr Collins makes a point of pointing that out.

The story opens up with Quarry in the middle of ‘job’. At the conclusion of this job, Quarry returns to the motel in which he’s staying and we meet him there while he’s swimming in the pool. A broad approaches the pool and coaxes Quarry to return with her to her room to continue their conjugal activities they had evidently been engaged in before

Quarry snuck out to accomplish his job. After completing this new job, he returns to the pool despite the protestations of the broad.

This story ends in a dramatic climax resulting in several fatalities as it were. But more importantly we find Quarry now terminated from his employment with Broker. And since Broker is his only point of contact with the people contracting his services, and the ‘mystery’ being solved in this story stems directly from this work… how is it that Quarry’s story will continue? I know there is a sequel, but how does it start? This novel ends with Quarry, freed of the encumbrances of his ‘work’ swimming after his phone call with Peg. So, what is he going to do with his life next? Is he just going to retire? He seems a bit young for that, and the score from his last jobs isn’t that much money… a nice modest nest egg but certainty not ‘rest of your life’ money…

There’s a passage in the book that really sums things up nicely. Quarry is confronting the person who hired his services…

“… Let me remind you, you smug-ass bastard… you murdered Albert Leroy.”
“No,” I said. “I killed him. You murdered him.”
And I left her to think about it. I hoped she’d think about it a long time. But I doubted it.

But what else can we learn from this work… Well, there’s a passage that sums that up nicely too:

It didn’t make sense, it didn’t make fucking sense. Invisible people nobody wants to kill. Sometimes – like in my case – you get invisible because you want no one to know you. But other guys are born that way. Other guys doctors yank from the womb and can’t find an ass to slap.

The Big Bang – Mickey Spillane / Max Allan Collins

The Big Bang – A Mike Hammer novel written as a collaboration of Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Colllins. It was written / published in 2010 but its set in the late sixties… somewhere between Spillane’s The Body Lovers (1967) and his Survival… Zero! (1970).

Now, I don’t know if that’s a run-on sentence and who am I to judge, but I could clearly follow along with what the author was communicating. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer seems all-grown-up.

The story starts out in a fairly typical fashion, our hero coming to the rescue of a stranger; like an urban knight in somewhat shining armor. After saving a hospital bike messenger from three youthful offenders, killing two and hospitalizing the third, Mike soon finds his way fighting an uphill battle against corruption, deception and narcotics in swinging sixties New York. Max Alan Collins weaves this story from a partial manuscript of Spillane’s from the sixties. Its classic Hammer kicking ass and taking no names from a chic village pottery vender shop to a swinging nightclub and a city hospital connection to the drugs trade.

The pacing of the is suspenseful and packed with violence around every corner and sex around every other corner. The action reaches its climax is the antagonist’s lair complete with 60’s style fashion the description of which is worthy of an early Robert B Parker Spenser novel… pure Austin Powers baby. But what really set this novel’s mood, or outlook is the ambiguous ending… Does Mike say something, or is he the urban knight that see’s past the immediate crisis for the future’s possibility? Darkness or the Light?

“She was out of the designer dress as quick as a jump cut in a movie, and although I was trying to swear off those wild oats Velda had said to get sown, I was human – that curvy body with the dramatic tan lines and the puffy, hard-tipped areolas against stark white flesh and the dark pubic triangle against that same startling white was mine for the asking, without asking, and as she began by falling to her knees to worship the part of me that seemed to be in charge.”