Audio'ed: The Big Bang by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, 2010, Overdrive download.
Collins preface gave a history on this collaboration. Spillane was up against a deadline to produce a Hammer novel. Spillane set aside the almost complete Big Bang and gave a completed, but shelved, novel to the publisher. Collins was visiting Spillane in the early '80s and Spillane said "Take a look at this." Collins read it, Collins enjoyed it, Spillane stuck it away again. When Collins took on Spillane's unpubbed work he cleaned up Big Bang a bit and published it.
There were a couple spots in here where I instantly assumed I'd heard Collins's contributions. But, really, I'm not expert on either of their work. Although I have recognized that Spillane often describes his protagonists grinning.
It's 1968(ish) and Hammer is exiting a Manhattan office building when a teenager on a moped is run off the road by three goons in a car. Two goons jump out of the car. One wields a chain, the other a club. Hammer wields his fists and feet. Two of the three goons end up dead. The moped teen ends up in the hospital and Hammer goes under the bright light of police interrogation.
Hammer, as usual, comes away clean. Hammer, as usual, gets curious about what happened so he pokes around. The attackers were small time druggies. Moped Teen works as a gofer for the local hospital/med school and is under the wing of a famed Doctor. Why was the boy attacked? One theory is that the boy was carrying a lot of cash on payday. Or, were they were trying to force Moped to turn over hospital owned carcotics?
As Hammer starts to poke around bad guys start trying to poke holes in him. Hammer finds out there is a connection with heroin distribution. The mob is involved. Independent dealers are involved. Somehow Famous Doctor is involved.
More things happen and Spillane sets it up for one character to be a behind-the-scenes bad guy and then pulls the rug out from under you. There's a big action piece at the end with lots of blood and gore.
1. Hammer lovey-doveys with Velma - at this point in the series they have a sexual relationship - and boinks another woman. Hammer never shies from sex talk. He embarrasses Pat Chambers when trying to set Pat up with a wealthy, super sexy woman.
2. Hammer kills without remorse. He discusses the topics of remorse and killing with another character and Hammer explains that he sees his fights and shoot-outs as a matter of survival. Someone is trying to kill Hammer but Hammer got him first. Hammer is a black and white guy.
3. Plenty of sex. Hammer and Velda are an item but Hammer is still free to see other women, and he does. Hammer lusts for Velda and provides frequent descriptions of her curvy hips, legs and chest. How her hair moves. The position of her lips and mouth expressions. He calls her 'Kitten'.
4. Junkies are seen as lost. Hammer and others don't talk about rehab and recovery. Junkies are a menace and Hammer will clean them up his way.
5. SPOILER Hammer has always been ruthless. The ending has Famous Doctor poisoning a massive heroin shipment. Famous Doctor figures that when hundreds of people die from the drug that the citizenry will rise up and destroy the Mob that has been selling the heroin. Famous Doctor recognizes his idea is unsound and insane. Famous Doctor questions his actions. Famous Doctor dies and Hammer is the only one left with the information. At the end of the novel Hammer does not stop the shipment from being picked up by the Mob. Does Hammer let the dope go? Does Hammer tell the police? Spillane lets us wonder.