Well it took 44 years but thanks to Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane's Morgan the Raider finally returns in The Consummata, the just released sequel to 1967's The Delta Factor. As Collins puts it in the preface, after "a disappointing experience producing a Factor film, however, the frustrated Spillane set aside the already-announced second Morgan novel" but twenty years later gave the "incomplete manuscript" to Collins to finish. (BTW My review of The Delta Factor novel can be found here.) So, was The Consummata worth the wait? It sure was!
Set about a year after the events in Factor (around 1967-68, based on comments by the characters), The Consummata opens with Morgan on the run from federal agents in Miami's "Little Havana" who still think he's responsible for a forty million dollar heist. Rescued by Cuban exiles in the area who recently lost $75,000 earmarked to fund anti-Castro efforts in Cuba, Morgan, out of gratitude, goes after Jaimie Halaquez, the sadistic (and more) turncoat that stole the money. Teaming up with some helpful prostitutes and former associates, Morgan's search for Halaquez becomes linked to the death of an inventor working on a geiger counter-like device as well as several attempts on his own life. And what significance does the impending arrival of the title character, a legendary figure herself (read the book to find out why), have to do with everything?
Collins, who's completed other unfinished Spillane works (like this recent one), does a great job as usual. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Collins succeeds in deftly capturing Spillane's "voice", with no jarring, unnatural rupture in the narrative. I can't tell which author did what, and that's just fine. Because The Consummata is great fun to read. More action packed and sexier (and kinkier) than Factor, the new installment depicts Morgan as more of a "regular guy" version of such swashbuckling heroes like Leslie Charteris' "The Saint", yet doesn't let readers forget how our protagonist has grown in outlook and character. Both the Cold War era setting and the supporting characters, good and bad guys alike, are also more vividly drawn this time. When a likable (or unlikable) character we've gotten to know takes a metaphoric hit, we feel the impact too. Now that's good writing!
The Consummata can be reserved from us by clicking here. And it goes without saying that the last scene sets up another possible sequel. Let's hope it won't be another four decades before we see a new Morgan the Raider tale.
(And how can I go without mentioning the fantastic cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis. Is that a terrific piece of work or what?)
I'll be back on the week of November 28 with new posts. Happy Turkey Day!