Thursday, August 28, 2014

Done: "The Twisted Thing" by Mickey Spillane

Done: The Twisted Thing by Mickey Spillane, 1966, no date on this printing.

A whodunit with Mike Hammer in upstate New York.  Thelma Velma never appears and Pat Chambers makes a very brief appearance.

Mike is telephoned by a ex-con he is friendly with.  Ex-Con has gone straight and is working as chauffeur for a wealthy scientist in upstate NY.  Scientist's famously brilliant 14-year-old son, Ruston, has gone missing and is presumed kidnapped.  The local small town cops are goons and proceed to beat upon Ex-Con and try to force a confession.  Ex-Con makes his one call to Mike.

Mike springs Ex-Con and makes big enemies with the goon cop Dilwick. Mike takes Ex-Con back to Scientist's mansion and is hired by Scientist to find the missing boy. Scientist is very rich and has mooching relatives so Mike has plenty of suspects.  But, Mike doesn't take long to find the kid and rescue him.  Mike also hears the bad guys say a name, "Mallory".  Mike brings Ruston back home and tells Scientist that he heard "Mallory". Scientist goes pale. Scientist sneaks out and Mike figures he is off to confront Scientist's lesbian assistant.  Mike is late to follow and finds Scientist dead with a cleaver in his head. The plot thickens.

Mike is stuck trying to figure things out.  He really likes Ruston and thinks he's a good kid for being a hyper-genius.  Mike tries to figure out who set-up the kidnapping and why Scientist was killed.  He has plenty of trouble and has to run in circles.  He's after bad cops, lesbians, ruthless relatives, a missing greedy assistant, and a missing librarian.  There is punching, threats, slapping, car chases, shootings, kicking, baton beatings, sneaking, ambushes, bad cops out to murder, car crashes, shoot outs and more.

Hammer figures things out of course but it takes a while because nothing quite makes sense.  It's a bit of a "shocker" when the killer is figured out but Spillane did not leave many suspects left for us to choose from anyway.

1. Hammer is always after justice but always on his terms.  He'll bull people over with both his personality and his arguments.  Hammer is rarely wrong.  Sure, he'll miss things during a case but he'll never apologize for belting out concussions and contusions.  He'll also never lose his nerve after blowing another guy's brains out.
2. I bought this and two other Hammer paperbacks at the Lindsborg PL during vacation.I cannot tell when it was printed.  It is a Signet with a code listing 451-AJ1400.  The cover has two photos on it.  In the lower right is a male model prone on a hardwood floor pointing a revolver at slightly off camera. In the upper left is Spillane at a typewriter with a big bottle of Miller Lite on his desk.
3. Ruston is the killer. Spillane gives Ruston a long speech about his treatment at the hands of his father to make Ruston a genius.  Spillane gives a theory that even though Ruston is 14-years-old his intellect is like a fifty-year old.  Okay, I can go with him being as smart as a 50-year-old but Spillane says he is also that age emotionally.  That Ruston is a grown man stuck in a teen boy's body and that Ruston was frustrated and upset about this.  That Ruston loved his nurse but could do nothing about it. Yeah, that theory does not hold after almost 50 years.
4. Lesbians are considered half-man and half-woman.



A few points:

1) The title is THE TWISTED THING, not A TWISTED THING. A small, but potentially significant difference.

2) Mike's secretary is named "Velda," not "Thelma."

Thos corrections having been made, of that said, THE TWISTED THING was first published in 1966, the 9th book in the series.

But it was actually the second one Spillane wrote (or at least the second one he completed), so it was likely written in the late 1940's, but fits rather well into the "comeback era" of the Hammer series that began with THE GIRL HUNTERS.



Gerard Saylor said...


The order of the Hammer novels are all a bit difficult for me to keep track of. Especially with Collins finishing off Spillane's manuscripts.

I have two more Signet paperbacks in line: Survival Zero and Body Lovers.