5.0 out of 5 stars Babes, Blackmail and Murder
Very good treatment of what i would describe as the ultimate in hardboiled fiction. The first three novels of Spillane's anti hero keep one reading late into the night. Each novel better than the last. Nice package.
Published on March 9 2003 by Dr. Freeman
3.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously over-the-top, but very readable.
Mickey Spillane was a unique writer who imbued his hardboiled mystery novels with an over-the-top grittiness that often toed the line between light-hearted pulp fiction and dime-novel trash. His stalwart hero, Mike Hammer, is the personification of the tough guy detective who is tough simply because he probably can't be anything else.
Several of these other reviewers...
Published on July 25 2003 by flask
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously over-the-top, but very readable.,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Mickey Spillane was a unique writer who imbued his hardboiled mystery novels with an over-the-top grittiness that often toed the line between light-hearted pulp fiction and dime-novel trash. His stalwart hero, Mike Hammer, is the personification of the tough guy detective who is tough simply because he probably can't be anything else.
Several of these other reviewers are quite disturbing in their assumptions: Mickey Spillane invented the hard-boiled detective genre with Mike Hammer? How untrue! Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are the true grandfathers of the hard-boiled detective story and their literary efforts remain timeless. That being said, Spillane is a colorful writer who warrants reading by rabid fans of the genre.
5.0 out of 5 stars Babes, Blackmail and Murder,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Very good treatment of what i would describe as the ultimate in hardboiled fiction. The first three novels of Spillane's anti hero keep one reading late into the night. Each novel better than the last. Nice package.
4.0 out of 5 stars Spillane Still a crowd pleaser,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Mickey Spillane wrote detective novels half a century ago. It's well-known that he was not very well-liked by the literary community. There's a veiled derisive reference to one of his stories in one of the later Philip Marlowe novels. Even after all of this time, Spillane still gets little respect.
This is unfortunate, but this collection goes some way towards fixing that I think. The three books presented here are the first three Spillane wrote, published just after World War II, and Max Alan Collins' thoughtful introduction puts them in context so the reader knows what they're looking at. Basically, if you've seen plot twists or devices in other stories that appear here also, it's a good bet that Spillane invented them, and someone else used them (usually while not crediting Spillane himself).
The three books included in this series are I, the Jury (1947), My Gun is Quick (1950) and Vengeance is Mine (also 1950). All three are variations on the same plot, which apparently is a Spillane hallmark. The main character, Mike Hammer, is somehow involved in a murder, knows the victim, and swears revenge on the killer. He then spends most of the book sorting through clues, talking to witnesses, and getting beaten up. There's then a final scene where Hammer has figured out who the killer is, and confronts said killer. The killers never get arrested: Hammer shoots them, so that there's no trial.
The dialog and situations are very dated, and somewhat hackneyed. My wife read one of these books sometime ago, and her observation is very appropriate. Spillane invented the genre, but he's been imitated so much that the original looks a bit cliched.
That being said there are some really amusing cultural indicators here. For instance, while the books were considered scandalous at the time, there are no four-letter words in the text (none are spelled out anyway). There's much breathless necking and so forth, but the sex is actually pretty tame. In the first book, Hammer actually won't have sex with the girl he's romantically involved with because they aren't married yet. The slang is so dated that at times it's unintentionally funny: Hammer and his best friend Captain Pat Chambers call one another kid repeatedly, for instance. Hammer walks around telling everyone that he's going to kill the murderer in a fashion that no one would condone today, and no writer would try to slip past an editor.
I really enjoyed these books, and I would recommend them to anyone interested in detective novels, and noir fiction. They are definitely anachronisms, but they're fun, nonetheless.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pioneer,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Would you believe that, although I am past the age of 60, I had never gotten around to reading Mickey Spillane until this attractive collection caught my eye? The Mickster honed his craft writing scripts for Fawcett Comics, and Mike Hammer's first incarnation was as a comic character, Mike Danger, but the first Hammer novel is still quite crude. In I, THE JURY Hammer spends way too much print telling everyone how he is going to gun down the perp who offed his old Army buddy, and do it point blank and in cold blood, and that he can get away with it because he has a license to carry a pistol (?!?). There are also subtly wrong word choices that often reminded me of Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s somewhat similar hard-boiled crime novels. And the identity of the killer is obvious long before the famous ending in which Hammer does shoot the unarmed perp point blank in the gut, because there is only one person situated so as to carry out all the crimes Hammer brings home to the villain.
MY GUN IS QUICK is a far better novel in all respects, better written, better plotted, but still has the defect that the identity of the criminal mastermind Hammer seeks is obvious almost from the first, since again only one character in the book could possibly be the guilty party. It also has Hammer, despite the title, badly outdrawn by the bad guy and blasted down.
Spillane hits his stride in VENGEANCE IS MINE. There's a complex plot, started with a murder committed under the very nose of the passed-out-drunk Hammer, and ending with Hammer gunning down the killer in a sequence that is literally twisted on its side compared to the similar sequence in I, THE JURY. The action is integrated by occurring almost entirely during a heavy New York City snowstorm, and the identity of the killer is effectively disguised by having the obvious and apparently only suspect not turning out to be the guilty party. In fact, in a touch we are told Spillane was very proud of, the actual identity of the brutal killer, who should be easy to spot because he is so physically powerful that he can break necks almost instantly with nothing but his bare hands, is concealed from the reader not only until the last line, but literally until the last WORD of the last line! And, no, this word is not a character name!
Probably what made the Spillane novels best sellers in their day is that Hammer is continually meeting impossibly beautiful, impossibly desirable women who want to jump into bed with him (and usually do!) almost the instant they set eyes on him. What is not noticed as often is that Hammer operates with authentic 1950s morality--- if he plans to marry a girl, he doesn't lay a finger on her. In the first novel, Hammer and his "serious" girl friend pretty much have to go sit on mounds of ice to avoid losing control and "doing it" before marriage, an unthinkable happening even to the hard-bitten Hammer!
Coming to this late, as I did, I notice how many touches that have become routine in hardboiled detective fiction must have originated with Hammer. The similarities between Hammer and Andrew Vachss's justifiably paranoid private eye Burke are particularly striking, down to the battered car that conceals a gigantic, superpowerful engine and the gunning-down of unarmed bad guys when the opportunity permits.
As the introduction by Max Allen Collins notes, Spillane has garnered little literary respect or attention over the years. Like most true creators, his real legacy lies in the fact that he redefined a whole genre, and that all private eye novels to follow had to come to terms with his creation.
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping mystery anthology,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Nowadays Spillane's descriptions of sex and violence may seem a bit less shocking, but his understanding of the mystery genre is remarkable. The only caveat? The book is a bit too pricey for the casual mystery fan; the anthology should have included 5 novels for each volume. Other than that, it's interesting to see how many famous tough guy characters were influenced by Spillane (Is it just me, or is Moneypenny a direct rip-off of Velda?).
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing How Good!!!,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)I have a B.A. degree in English literature, and I rarely read novels anymore. Being 46 years old and never having read a Spillane novel, I was always interested in his popular works. My father and older brother always read Spillane.
After reading these early works, I was amazed with my total enjoyment of each mystery. The prose improved with each subsequent work. The stories were woven with fantastic charm, wit, and style that can only be attributed to Mickey Spillane. His being a part of the World War II generation added to his distinct writing background/style.
I loved his continuing characters of Mike Hammer (Private Detective), his secretary Velda, and Police Chief, Pat Chambers. I am now "hooked" on Spillane's Mike Hammer novels and cannot wait to read more. BRAVO!!! What fun and exciting reading. Mickey Spillane is an important part of American Pop fiction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-boiled Mystery At Its Very Best,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)In this first installment of "The Mike Hammer Collection", Mickey Spillane's hero leads us through a trio of fast-paced, hard-hitting and thoroughly enjoyable stories. Each of these contain a rollercoaster of plot twists, a barrage of action sequences along with a ton of girls, who are as dangerous as they are pretty. I personally feel that with his first three Mike Hammer stories Mickey Spillane has created masterpieces.
Well worth buying.
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READING!,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)This is Mickey Spillane at his very best! This master of mystery grabs the reader and doesn't let go. No writers today can weave stories in the way Spillane does. He's truly a great master in American literature. Three stories in one omnibus — what a bargain...
5.0 out of 5 stars Confirms Spillane's Brilliance,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)As a contemporary mystery writer with my debut novel in initial release, I have often heard Mickey Spillane and his Mike Hammer character scoffed at by the writers of today. This collection, containing three early works, shows clearly why Spillane should be respected by authors and mystery fans of our time. Mike Hammer, the ultimate hardboiled American private eye, is a magnificent creation. Spillane's plots move swiftly, and the world of Mike Hammer is created in painstaking, and consistent, detail. Each of the novels in this collection clearly shows why Spillane has had the impact he has had on the mystery genre. He should not be scoffed at when he deserves to be admired. Read this collection, and you will find out why.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I, Witness,
This review is from: The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I (Paperback)Here's food for thought: Mickey Spillane, known for the high sex and violence content of his stories, is a long-time Jehovah's Witness. He grew up in a tough neighborhood and, if he had come knocking on my door trying to convert me, I would have been careful how I argued with him. In truth, what seemed shocking at the time seems almost puritanical today. His hero, Mike Hammer, continually declines offers of sex from beautiful women on the grounds that it would be morally wrong. His is an Old Testament, vengeful, eye-for-an-eye morality, doling out death as the wages of sin. Even the title of one of these stories, "Vengeance is Mine", has a biblical ring to it.
Hammer was based on a comic book character Spillane had created, and the stories have the simplicity, directness and lack of literary pretension that one would expect from such a pedigree. Spillane found a marketable formula and stuck with it and all three of these stories are similar in many ways. The post-war reading public wanted a hero who righted wrongs simply and neatly, with fist and gun and no due process. Notice that all three titles have a first-person pronoun in them; Spillane invites you to become your fantasy macho hero for a while.
Racier stories and more skilful plotting are now available from other authors, but Spillane is still worth a look, if only to see how the genre evolved after Chandler and Hammett. One reason his work has survived (although he is not very widely read now) is the success of the excellent film noir adaptation of "Kiss Me Deadly", the star of which, Ralph Meeker, was a very fine actor. Watch that movie, read at least one story from this collection, then move on to better things.
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The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume I by Mickey Spillane (Paperback - June 15 2001)
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