Friday, January 14, 2011

Forgotten books: The Delta Factor -- Mickey Spillane

When I read that Max Allan Collins had completed the sequel to The Delta Factor in a posthumous collaboration with Mickey Spillane, I knew I was going to read the first novel in what will now become a two-book series featuring Morgan the Raider, originally published in 1967. Espionage novels were big then, and so we have Morgan (he has no other name), a big-time professional thief, who's caught by the feds only because he was hit by a car. The feds think he's stolen $40 million, and they're going to put him away for a long time. Unless he goes to work for them.

Nothing new there, and nothing new in the fact that on his first assignment, they're sending along a beautiful female agent to help out. Naturally she'll be posing as his wife. What are the odds they'll fall for each other? That's just a rhetorical question.

So off they go to an unnamed Latin American country where there's big-time gambling and an impregnable prison from which Morgan has to retrieve a prisoner. Complications? You bet. Morgan didn't really steal that $40 million, and he wants the guy who did. And people are trying to kill him. And there's a beautiful woman who needs his help to escape the country. And . . . a lot of other things. Too many. The book's overcrowded with subplots, which is one of its problems. The other problem is one of coincidence: Just about everybody connected with that $40 million shows up in the hotel where Morgan's staying.

It's all told in the Spillane manner, though, and that makes up for a lot. Plus there's a hurricane bearing down on the island. I mentioned the subplots, right? Anyway, Spillane does a really good job with his descriptions of the way things go before a big storm hits. When I read this book in 1968, that didn't really register with me. Now that I've been through a couple of those storms, it did. Spillane had obviously been through some storms himself, and it shows in the writing.

I wouldn't recommend that anybody begin reading Spillane with this book, but it's fun for those who are already familiar with his work. I'm really looking forward to that sequel. Forty-four years is, to use one of Spillane's titles, a long wait.

4 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to dig out THE DELTA FACTOR and read it, too, before I tackle the sequel.

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  2. I've been curious about this one for years. With MAC's completed sequel coming out, I'll have to catch up on this one for sure.

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  3. Well, even back then, Bill, there were specials from certain hotels--"Are you involved with the theft of $40 million or more? We have the suites and services for you!"

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  4. I read the link you posted, with Collins explaining his approach to the sequel. I like his concept, and it seems like will be faithful to Spillane's original intent. Both novels sound like fun, cliches aside.

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