Book Review: Black Alley by Mickey Spillane (1996)

Wow. 1996 this book was published. A Mike Hammer novel. A two-fisted, hard-boiled detective novel, something straight out of the pulps. Right before the dot-com bubble. This isn’t a Perry Mason novel from the 1960s, which you can lose yourself in because it’s timeless and only when you concentrate do you notice they’re not using computers. Mike Hammer knows of all these things and ignores them because he’s a throwback.

Mike Hammer’s older, but he wouldn’t admit it. He’s also been shot up and is recovering, although not as fast as he would with strict, or even any, bed rest. A dying war buddy lets Mike know he’s hidden billions in stolen mob money and challenges Mike to find it. It was bad enough that the mob shot Mike up, but once they think he knows where the stolen billions are, they squeeze. So does the IRS. And Mike can’t hold a gun, so he’s got to go on his reputation and his balls. And those of his secretary Velda, whom Mike realizes he ought to marry.

Wow. 1996.

The style’s definitely a throwback, but the character also recognizes his age and that the world’s changed around him. Outstanding. Of course, Ayn Rand liked Mickey Spillane, so who would I be to argue. It’s a little weird to have a hardback Mike Hammer, though. This book definitely belongs in a dimestore format, in the mass market paperback. After all, Mike Hammer’s a product of the 1960s, same as Mike Shayne, Shell Scott, and Parker. They just didn’t have Stacy Keach to lend them credibility with a television character in the 1980s and 1990s (well, Parker did, but they changed the name and the focus of the character in the Mel Gibson movie).

I liked the book, and I read it relatively quickly. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the good guy wins. Thank genre fiction.

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