The Twisted Thing Mass Market Paperback – 1966
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Top Customer Reviews
"I, The Jury" (1947) was the beginning, the beginning of a round of thrillers by then unknown Mickey Spillane. Mike Hammer, one of thrillerdom's ace protagonists was introduced, and the world couldn't read enough of his adventures.
Today Mickey Spillane is 85-years-old, and acclaimed around the globe for inventing the hard-hitting, hard-boiled protagonist who is a compelling mix of sex and sharp shooting. It's hard to believe this many years have gone by for the Brooklyn born Spillane. He's outlasted and out sold many of his contemporaries, and when last heard from was still hard at work.
Perhaps those of us who love to read don't take time to thank the writers who have given us so many hours of pleasure. I certainly fall into that category, so a big hats off to Mickey Spillane and gratitude for the wealth of reading pleasure he's given so many.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story starts with strong and continues strong all the way throughout. At the beginning, Hammer is just driving along, minding his own business, when he "heard the screams through the thin mist of the night and kicked the car to a stop at the curb." He finds a hysterical child sitting in a pile of rubble and then sees what the kid was screaming about: "the mutilated body of what had been a redheaded woman. At one time she had been beautiful, but death had erased all that." "She had been in her later twenties, but now time had ended for her. She lay there on her back, naked except for the remnants of a brilliant green negligee that was still belted around her waist. Her breasts were poised in some weird, rigid defiance, her long tapered legs coiled serpentine-like in the throes of death." "Half-opened eyes had looked into some nameless terror before sight left them and her mouth was still frozen in a silent scream of pain." There are few writers alive or dead who can open a book with such a description. Spillane does and he does it well. Within pages, the reader is deep in the action, wanting to know what happened to the lady and how Hammer is going to deal with it. Of course finding bodies is nothing new for Hammer.
This is a good, solid detective story with Hammer working to ferret out the clues as to what happened to the redhead in the green negligee as more bodies start popping up. The usual Hammer associates are found in this book. There's Captain Pat Chambers, head of homicide, who "still resembled a trim business executive more than he did a cop . . . until you got to his eyes." Velda, who is Hammer's secretary, is here, too: His "big, beautiful, luscious doll. Crazy titian hair that rolled in a pageboy and styles be damned. Clothes couldn't hide her because she was too much woman." "She was deadly too."
It's Hammer's world here and, in typical Spillane fashion, its not rainbows and mermaids he sees spouting in the distance, but a "New York gray, damp with river fog that held in suspension the powdered grime and acid grit the city seemed to exhale." Its interesting hearing him talk about Greenwich Village being no more than a fantasy people looked around and tried to find like Hollywood and how silence is a funny sound that you hear when everything is too still and there's someone with a gun ready to pick you off.
Hammer comes through here as tough as ever and as willing to bull his way through to truth and justice as anyone ever.
There is nothing about a Mike Hammer novel that is not fun in a hardboiled way.
Old NYPD crony Pat Chambers makes only a brief appearance (there is another compliant cop to serve as Hammer’s legal shield and deus ex machina) and supposed fiancee Velda none at all. Hammer’s conflict with Chambers over Velda, a huge component of The Girl Hunters and still festering somewhat in The Snake, is only hinted at in one line here. On the other hand, Hammer does refer (without elaboration) to the startling conclusion of Spillane’s first Hammer novel, I the Jury, which cemented both Hammer’s reputation as a borderline psychopath and Spillane’s as a writer willing to do anything to make a splash.
Otherwise, The Twisted Thing is pretty much a Hammer standalone novel, which is fine. It is vintage Spillane with its tough guy talk (like all Hammer—and Mann—books, it is narrated in first person), convoluted mystery, convenient clues, plot-advancing coincidences and stupendously preposterous conclusion. The story starts with Hammer’s investigation of the kidnapping of a rich scientist’s 14-year-old son, which soon leads to a number of murders (including one with a meat cleaver), all of which takes place in the small Upstate New York town of Sidon. Along the way Hammer deals with crooked (and murderous) local cops, a lusty dame or two and even some lesbians. Of course he gets knocked around a time or two but always comes up swinging.
Did I enjoy it? Yes…yes I did. Spillane is a master at keeping the plot and suspense going with a combination of new developments and sheer stylistic aplomb. He does so here. The Twisted Thing is one of the best of Spillane’s Hammer books.
The Hammer of The Body Lovers (and the previous one, The Twisted Thing) is more a traditional crime investigator than the angel of vengeance he is in many of the early books, and I like him much better in this guise. The plot is also more interesting in this kind of book with the innate interest factor of the murder mystery driving the narrative. In the vengeance driven books, Hammer comes off as more of a lunatic loose cannon and the plots tend to be repetitive. Plus, Spillane's apparent inability to flesh out his character from his original one-dimensionality isn't as much of a problem when the story is plot—rather than character—driven.
Unfortunately, Spillane was near the end of his Hammer books at this point, with only Survival…Zero yet to come until he revived the character one more time in the late 1990s for a couple of final installments (several others were finished from Spillane’s manuscripts and published after his death).
If you like hard boiled crime novels of the old school, The Body Lovers would be a good choice.
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.
Four men are beating a man to get a confession. Dilwick was the dirtiest cop known. Mike Hammer is a match for him. Billy Parks was the chauffeur for Rudolph York, whose son was kidnapped. Mike sees York and learns more about this rich man and his household (Chapter 1). Mike talks to the people at York’s home, then drives to the local village. He learns something, then visits the local tavern and notices the bar rag. Mike goes to some old shacks and finds Ruston, but is attacked and knocked out (Chapter 2)! But the men run out and Mike finds Ruston again, who tells what happened. Mike brings Ruston home. York makes a comment then leaves. Mike follows and finds him murdered at that apartment house (Chapter 3)! Mike called the State Police, who questioned him. Mike went to the York mansion and told Ruston (Chapter 4).
Mike told the family what happened. Later he goes back to that apartment in the night and finds some documents (Chapter 5). Mike returned and talked to Miss Malcolm. Then he talked to Billy. Mike explored York’s laboratory at night. Another man arrived to do the same. When this man leaves he is attacked! A woman’s scream takes him back to the mansion. A woman was wounded! A doctor arrives to treat the wounded (Chapter 6). Mike reported the shooting to the State Police. Mike visits Alice and spends time there. Then Mike gets an unpleasant surprise, but returns to the York mansion (Chapter 7). Mike goes to a library to look for a 14-year old newspaper but doesn’t find the page. [No microfilm?] He learns more at Alice’s apartment. He reads that old newspaper at the New York Public Library. Does it explain the kidnapping (Chapter 8)? Mike tries to see that librarian again but she is missing. Later Mike explored the site where Myra Grange disappeared and finds a clue (Chapter 9).
Mike runs into trouble when following Dilwick! Now he has to hide from the Sidon police while going to the York mansion. Mike talks to Roxy and Ruston, then leaves (Chapter 10). Mike visited local doctors to find one that treated a gunshot wound. Mike follows one of the kidnappers, there is a car crash! Mike visits the casino outside of town. He finds Mallory and the two kidnapped women. There is shooting, Dilwick is hit. The State Police arrive to arrest people, Price talks to Mike (Chapter 11). Mike returns to the York mansion. There is a shocking surprise! The killer talks a lot to boast about his deeds. Mike seems helpless, but there is an unexpected surprise!
This is another action story that has an unexpected ending. This ending seems forced, unlike other stories. It depends on official corruption from unexpected persons.