Writer Max Allan Collins has completed yet another unfinished manuscript left to him by the late Mickey Spillane, this one titled Lady, Go Die! (Click here to reserve it from us.) Dating from around 1945, just after Spillane submitted his first novel, I, The Jury, to the publishers, Lady, Go Die! is actually the belated original sequel to Jury, finally available to readers. And as with last year's Spillane/Collins collaborations, Kiss Her Goodbye and The Consummata, Lady, Go Die! was worth the wait.
Set around 1945, Lady, Go Die! finds tough guy private eye Mike Hammer still trying to get over the harrowing and heartbreaking events depicted in I, The Jury. Accompanied by his sexy, loyal and equally tough secretary Velda, Mike leaves Manhattan for a brief vacation to get his head together and heads to the Long Island beach town of Sidon. But immediately upon arrival, Mike winds up rescuing a helpless beachcomber from being brutally beaten by the local (and corrupt) Sidon cops.
That's followed by the discovery of the nude dead body of one of Sidon's most influencial citizens, wealthy widow Sharron Wesley, draped over a statue in the local park. Seems Mrs. Wesley, whose infamous past Mike knew about, had helped run an illegal gambling den in the town with some of the cops (one of whom is an old enemy of Mike's) and gangsters from New York City. Drop in a possible serial killer who may be in the vicinity, and Mike and Velda, with some long distance help from their buddy, NYPD Captain Pat Chambers, are off to solve the case.
Fun from start to finish, Lady, Go Die! pulsates with an energenic pace that never lets up. Spillane and Collins -as usual, you can't tell who did what, and that's great- never slag off, and the straightforward storytelling, with close attention to period dialect and events, keeps you glued to the page. Good too is seeing a much younger Hammer, who's still in love with the city (unlike later books), good-humoredly deal with the press regarding his then-recent notoriety, and finally noticing Velda's charms (but doesn't let that get in the way of fooling around with another female character). If anything, I kind of missed the apocalyptic tone of impending doom that popped up in Spillane's later books, but seeing as we're dealing with a younger, less cynical (but just as vengeful) Hammer (and Spillane?), it's absence is understandable.
The supporting characters, including the various Sidon town citizens,cops and officials, Poochie the child-like beachcomber, and NYC gang boss "Johnny C", are just as vivid and compelling as our hero. Yep, there's some sex and violence too, but the situations depicted throughout the novel are never less than exciting. No fat here. And wow, what an ending! Lady, Go Die! is one book you need to check out!