Another Audio: Murder Never Knocks by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, 2016, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.
I've gotten out of the habit of reading Collins's Tuesday blog updates which means two things:
1. I'm not sure how fully fleshed out this novel was when Collins took over.
2. I cannot remember if his name is Alan or Allan and I don't want to check.
Before I provide a recap let me post a note for anyone reading this: Hammer is a real asshole. I've written this before and I stand by that statement. Hammer is Spillane's hero and Spillane writes the guy as very smart, very discerning, and very tough. But, Hammer is a prick. He treats police like uniformed apes and thinks his own revenge and justice are more valuable than any court system.
The novel has several shootings and at one crime scene two NYPD cops roll up to find Hammer there. The senior Officer immediately gets attitude from Hammer with Hammer name dropping and saying, "Call Captain Chambers. In Homicide." Hammer is pulling rank he does not own. The Officer is arriving at the sight of a violent crime, discovering a shot up body, and gets asshole Hammer playing it cool, smoking a cig, knowing it all, and telling the guy what to do. Prick.
There a couple of times when Hammer pulls his "I'm an officer of the court" shtick. So fucking what? A court stenographer is probably an officer of the court. So is a fucking bailiff. But, a bailiff doesn't have authority to investigate murders and conceal evidence. Hammer is a "I never lie" guy but frequently lies by omission or misleads legal and law enforcement authorities.
And justice for Hammer often involves beating someone into a coma or killing them. Many of the Hammer novels mention people that Hammer has put in jail through his investigations but we never see Hammer doing that work. Instead we get beatings and shootings and most people end up dead.
I won't get started - again - on Hammer's weird relationships with women and the very weird relationship with Velda who is both Hammer's receptionist/business partner and bed buddy/would-be-wife.
Considering all that maybe it's a bit surprising I continually enjoy each Hammer novel. There is plenty of excitement, whodunit, sex, greasy bad guys, and what not. Hammer is a prick but he always shows himself to be a good guy on the side of the innocent and defenseless.
Murder begins with Hammer in his downtown office's reception room when a man walks in, points a gun at Hammer, and tells Hammer that Hammer's time is up. Of course Hammer gets the drop on the guy and blasts him away. A second attempt is made on Hammer's life and Velda and Pat Chambers start getting worried. Hammer, of course, is not too worried.
More things happen and we get a nice story about murder, mid '60s music and style, marriage, the mob, Hollywood, Broadway, secrets, sham suitors, sex, .45s, and more sex. The plot is a Hammer plot so you know what to expect.
1. I was wondering again about the progression of heroes leading from Hammer to beat-up-everyone characters like Jack Reacher. I'm sure Collins can tell you. Ask him.
2. Reminder: Collins held back the last complete (or mostly complete) Spillane novel for Spillane's 100th birthday. That should be neat to read.
3. I've been looking forward to the Western Collins wrote off Spillane's work but have not gotten to it yet. According to the catalog it should be in the shelf but I already have a stack of books I've not gotten to.
EDIT 4. I forgot to mention how masterful Stacey Keach's narration continues to be. I just looked Keach up on my Internet Computer Box and was reminded how he got busted for cocaine in Englandin 1984 and did six months of prison there. I forgot all about that. The arrest was also right at the beginning of the Hammer TV show but the series continued until 1989. I wonder if an arrest like that now would completely derail a show. Hell, of course it would. The actor would be canned in a second.
EDIT 5. Dang it. I had something else to add and have forgotten. Oh, yeah, I remember: I just learned that the cozy series by Collins and his wife has ten novels so far. I'd not realized the series has been running that long.
EDIT 6. Why is it the Quarry series is so damn good? Did Collins hang out at a crossroads one night?