Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Big Kill

The Big Kill is a Mike Hammer book, one in a series of detective stories by Mickey Spillane, whose photo from Wikipedia is above. I'm not sure this is in print as a stand-alone novel. I have The Elder Son's copy of volume 2 of The Mike Hammer Collection, which has 3 of the novels. I'm reading some of these for background on detective/crime/mystery novels. I like them ok, I guess, but I have trouble getting past the misogyny.

This plot synopsis is from Wikipedia:
Drinking at a seedy bar on a rainy night, Hammer notices a man come in with an infant. The man, named Decker, cries as he kisses the infant, then walks out in the rain and is shot dead. Hammer shoots the assailant as he searches Decker's body. The driver of the getaway car runs over the man Hammer shot to ensure that he won't talk. Hammer takes care of the child and vows revenge on the person behind the deed.

Hammer's trail of vengeance leads him to hostile encounters with his police friend Pat Chambers, the District Attorney and his stooges as well as beatings, assassination attempts, and torture from gangsters that Hammer reciprocates.
That Wikipedia article needs a bit of editing for clarity, if you ask me, but maybe it gets the general idea across.

There's a limited market for Spillane's prose, and I imagine that market gets smaller with each passing decade. a quote from the book:
It was one of those nights when the sky came down and wrapped itself around the world. The rain clawed at the windows of the bar like an angry cat and tried to sneak in every time some drunk lurched in the door. The place reeked of stale beer and soggy men with enough cheap perfume thrown in to make you sick. Two drunks with a nickel between them were arguing over what to play on the juke box until a tomato in a dress that was too tight a year ago pushed the key that started off something noisy and hot. One of the drunks wanted to dance and she gave him a shove. So he danced with the other drunk. She saw me sitting there with my stool tipped back against the cigarette machine and change of a fin on the bar, decided I could afford a wet evening for two and walked over with her hips waving hello.


  1. Anonymous5:43 AM

    I think of Mike Hammer as being a bit like the screen versions of Tarzan. By that I mean that the books' character has never been accurately portrayed in movies or TV. Now, I _love_ Stacy Keach's TV show, but it isn't the Mike Hammer of the novels. The books can be great fun, but as you say, you have to turn a blind eye to some things... a lot of things at times.
    --A Pal

    1. yes, i agree. stacy keach's hammer was great fun, but not the same as spillane's.

  2. Spillane is classic for the era it was written in as far as I'm concerned. I have read a few more than once - often with tongue in cheek.


    1. the way they read makes me wonder whether or not they were _written_ tongue in cheek