Tough guy private eye Mike Hammer returns in a "new" thriller, Kill Me, Darling, begun in 1954 or thereabouts by Mickey Spillane and completed very nicely by Max Allan Collins. (Click here to reserve our copy.)
Set in the aforementioned 1954, Hammer comes out of a four month bender (set off when his secretary Velda had left him with little explanation) to investigate former colleague Wade Manley's murder. With the help of old buddy Captain Pat Chambers of the NYPD, Mike discovers a connection between the murder victim and Velda, the latter now the latest girlfriend/mistress of Miami Beach gangster Nolly Quinn. But what connection does Quinn have with the case? Mike decides to head down to Miami to find out. And then stuff happens...
Fun from start to finish, Kill Me, Darling (the title is uttered by a character during the end of the book) is a good roller coaster ride with plenty of sex and violence (lots of hoods get dispatched by Mike) to please the audience. While the plot uses some familiar tropes -Hammer's bender was eventually used by Spillane in his 1962 novel The Girl Hunters (pointed out by Collins in his nice introduction), plus there's a surprise revelation at the climax about another character that harkens back to an earlier Spillane Hammer novel*- , there's still plenty of unexpected twists to be found. I loved hearing the reasons behind other gangsters wanting to hire Hammer to take out Quinn, for example, as well as the backstory that connects Hammer, Chambers, AND Velda to the late Manley.
Kill Me, Darling is definitely recommended!
*(If I tell you which Hammer novel, you'll know what I mean.)
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