Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dead Street -- MIckey Spillane

This one's straight out of the '50s. Jack Strang, a retired NYC cop, discovers that a woman he loved 20 years ago and had presumed dead is still alive and living in a unique retirement village in Florida. The catch is that she's blind and has amnesia. (I'm not giving away anything here that's not in the blurb on the back cover.) And it won't surprise you to learn that whoever tried to kill her so long ago is still after her.

Spillane's style hasn't changed much except maybe to become a bit leaner. Strang calls women "doll" just like Mike Hammer did 60 years ago. (Strang also says that there was a cowboy actor named Buck Jones when he was a kid. Not unless he's even older than I am, there wasn't.) Maybe the violence has been toned down a little, too, and Strang, though known as "the Shooter," doesn't knock off as many hoods as Hammer did in the course of a book.

I've been reading Spillane for 50 years, and I've never been ashamed to admit it. There's been some discussion of his work on rara-avis lately, with a lot of people saying that Spillane's for adolescent minds and so on. Probably true, but I don't care. Entertainment Weekly reviewed Dead Street and gave it an A. I liked it, too, but I certainly wouldn't expect everyone to. In fact, I expect some people will read it and wonder what all the fuss was about. As I said, it's straight out of the '50s, and times and reading tastes have changed. Okay, mine haven't, but you know what I mean.

Spillane completed only the first 8 chapters of this novel before his death. Max Allan Collins wrote the final 3 chapters working from Spillane's notes, and it's a nearly seamless transition. I had fun with all of it. Check it out.

7 comments:

jj solari said...

Word for word I, The Jury's one of the best yarns ever written.

Bill Crider said...

I like all those early ones. The Big Kill is a particular favorite for various reasons.

Richard Heft said...

Mark me down as a ONE LONELY KNIGHT man. And Buck Jones died in late 1942!

Bill Crider said...

Yeah, Strang must have been Buck Jones on TV.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

They're all classics, gentlemen (who came in?). Because it was the first, I have a special feeling I, THE JURY. It also follows the Mick's advice that a good title needs punctuation and a personal pronoun.

Bill Crider said...

And no weather in the first paragraph. Oh, wait. That's Elmore Leonard.

Randy Johnson said...

I, The Jury, was the first Spillane I read. I guess most of us can say that. Despite the many critical reviews, he's a favorite and always will be.