Come back to an earlier simpler time when cops and robbers used rods and gats, Hammer drove a heap, women were dames, broads, dolls, and molls, and cupcakes were "gone" on a guy. Yes, it is the 1940's and Mike Hammer is loose on the streets as only Mickey Spillane could imagine him with the able assistance of Max Allan Collins. In "Lady, Go Die!", Collins completes an unfinished Spillane novel that was destined to be the sequel to "I, The Jury" but was never completed for unknown reasons. It is truly a fun read to relive the prose and dialogue of a master of noir with all the dated references to a time maybe 65 years ago when the lines between good and evil were less blurred than they are today or at least they appeared that way.
In "Lady, Go Die!", Mike and Velda, his secretary, assistant, and lover, head to the small town of Sidon, a Long Island beach town. Mike interrupts the savage beating of a hapless beach bum by two local detectives, one of whom, Dekkert, is a dirty cop having been kicked off the NY force. Before he knows it, Hammer's code of justice has him knee deep in a mystery involving the death of Sharron Wesley, a former wealthy socialite of dubious background, a high stakes illegal gambling establishment, small town corruption, angry cops, and elements of New York's mob who may or may not sympathize with Mike. Along the way, Mike shuttles bqack and forth to the City to meet with his buddy, Pat Chambers, as well as with many of his less than steller NY contacts.
As Mike peels back the layers of this mystery, he senses they are all related yet somehow they don't seem to fit the usual pattern--is there more than one "perp", are certain elements of the criminal activities unrelated red herrings? Readers familiar with the older writings of Mickey Spillane will smile at his tough guy dialogue and his take-no-guff attitude as his trigger temper begins to take its toll on the bad guys of Sidon. Only when Velda goes missing does Mike ratchet up his desperation enough to find the answers he demands, even if it means taking the town apart piece by piece.
This is the second collaboration I have read of Collins and Spillane, and I admire Max Allan Collins' devotion to maintaining the "voice", stylings, and texture of Mickey Spilane's iconic character--a character that surely begat most of today's justice seekers from Jack Reacher to Dave Roubidoux. Yes, the prose is simpler than we expect today and yes, it is filled with dated, even sexist remarks, yet that is the point of Collins' painstaking devotion to recreating the times and milieu of Mike Hammer. Having grown up reading Mickey Spillane and watching the Mike Hammer Movies and TV shows, I found this an enjoyable, fast, satisfying walk down memory lane.