Hammer's "retirement" -he no longer has the desire to work or return to New York City- is interrupted when he gets a call from old pal Pat Chambers that retired NYPD detective Bill Doolan, Hammer's mentor, has killed himself.
Pulling himself together, Hammer reluctantly returns to Manhattan to attend Doolan's memorial service. Very quickly, our hero discovers that Doolan didn't commit suicide and that the late ex-cop was working on something involving the Mob (including the seemingly forgiving father of the aforementioned hood Hammer had killed one year before), Nazi diamonds and a "Studio 54" like disco club heavy in the drug trade, yet "clean" in the eyes of the Law. The deaths of an innocent waitress and a prostitute Hammer befriended, a popular Latin American singer named Chrome, a female District Attorney Hammer briefly falls for, and Doolan's shifty granddaughter also figure in the mix, prompting Hammer to once again prowl the streets with his porkpie hat, trenchcoat, and .45 automatic.
Like the two previous books, KIss Her Goodbye is another seamless collaboration by Spillane and Collins, the latter once again successfully writing in the former's "voice". There's great attention to period detail (from said detail, I'm guessing the story takes place around 1974-75), characterzation, great throwaway lines (especially the one Hammer delivers at the end), and not one but three climatic confrontations Hammer has with, respectively, an army of mobsters (a sequence that's very reminiscent of the climax of Spillane's 1952 Hammer novel One Lonely Night), a double crossing friend, and one other character with a bizarre secret. The violence is fast and wild, and Collins thankfully doesn't try to sugarcoat Hammer's brutal response to the villains, all of whom meet violent and graphic deaths. (One reviewer noted that Hammer seemed mellower in this tale. Maybe Hammer's slowed down due to age -his post WWII brief career as a NYPD cop is referenced- and his wounds, but I sure didn't see Hammer being "mellow" here.)
There are apparently more unfinished manuscripts and outlines, not all of them Mike Hammer stories, left by Spillane that Collins may eventually get to. On his website, Collins has indicated that sales of this book will decide whether these works will ever be completed and published. On the basis of Kiss Her Goodbye's overall quality, the best and most thrill-packed of the three Hammer novels Collins has completed, I can only hope we'll see more.