Chronologically, “The Twisted Thing” simply doesn’t follow the logical course of Hammer’s development or his relationship with Velda that has grown in “The Snake.” It is an earlier novel, having been written as perhaps the second book in the series. As such, “The Twisted Thing” is more of an old-fashioned detective novel with Hammer being hired by a wealthy individual out on a small Long Island town to solve his son’s kidnapping. The book is filled with corrupt small town cops, gambling, ex-strippers, steamy photographs, blackmail, shootings, car chases, and the whole extended family gathered for a whodoneit type of accusation after a murder. Hammer is there in the middle of all of it, attempting to bring some order to this steaming helping of messy stuff. The book is filled with typical Spillane action and intrigue.
The book opens in typical Spillane fancy talk: “The little guy’s face was a bloody mess. Between the puffballs of blue-black flesh that used to be eyelids, the dull gleam of shock-deadened pupils watched Dilwick uncomprehendingly. His lips were swollen things of lacerated skin, with slow trickles of blood making crooked paths from the corners of his mouth through the stubble of a beard to his chin, dripping onto a stained shirt.” Wow. What amazingly descriptive prose. There are few writers even today who could take the time and effort to so carefully describe a beating in the back of a police station.
The characters in this book include a boy genius, a crooked smalltown cop, a man-woman, an ex-stripper hired to watch over the boy genius, and the rich man’s family which included Alice Nichols, the nymphomaniac, who had “deep brown eyes that kissed mine so hard I nearly lost my balance. She swept them up and down the full length of me. It couldn’t have been any better if she did it with a paintbrush.” He explains that: “She told me things with a smile that most girls since Eve have been trying to put into words without being obvious or seeming too eager and I gave her my answer the same way.”
Maybe Pat Chambers and Velda are almost completely AWOL from this book and all the action takes place outside the big city. It is still a great read and a worthy part of the Mike Hammer saga.