Friday, October 24, 2008

The Goliath Bone -- Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

The Goliath Bone is the second of Spillane's posthumous novels completed by Max Allan Collins. The first was Dead Street, and as in that instance there's a smooth melding of plotting and style. It's hard to tell which parts were written by Spillane and which by Collins (though I can make a couple of guesses). This one marks the return to print of Spillane's most famous character, Mike Hammer.

The plot involves a couple of graduate students who dig up the femur of a giant, presumably the Goliath of the biblical story. Naturally a lot of people are interested in the artifact, including al-Qaeda, the Mossad, the Feds, an Israeli terrorist group, and probably others. Hammer just happens to be around when someone tries to kill the students, and he agrees to protect them and the bone. What really matters, though, is the 21st century version of Mike Hammer. He's older, maybe a little wiser, but not slower. And he's sure not the Hammer of, say One Lonely Night. The old kill-music doesn't sing in his head the way it used to. The violence and bloodshed are a bit muted now, and Hammer takes a little time now and then to reflect on the post-9/11 world he's living in. [Spoiler Alert] As well he should, since it seems pretty easy for a 7' 3'' assassin to get into the country. [End Spoiler Alert]

The ending is telegraphed, but I didn't mind. A reminder of things past is okay with me.
I enjoyed spending a little time with Hammer again, even if he's not quite the Hammer of my long-lost youth. I think you will, too.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the book too. I think I finished it in three or four days. The only thing I would nitpick is what I've nitpicked in Spillane's last few Hammer books, going back to "Survival Zero": Hammer seems to have others do most of the legwork for him, while he just collects their information and then solves the case. Dare I say Hammer sometimes he feels more like Nero Wolfe than Mike Hammer in these later books? But, Spillane is Spillane no matter what. Can't wait for the next one!

Barrie said...

Wow. Max Allan Collins must be doing a great job if it's hard to tell which parts he wrote.