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.


George said...

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

Cullen Gallagher said...

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.

Todd Mason said...

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!"

BV Lawson said...

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.