Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, and the Snake

by Pa Rock

I'm always reading, often with two books going at once:  one in the car in case I get trapped in town or out on the road somewhere, and one next to my bed.  Reading is truly one of the pleasures of my life.  Sometimes I read to learn things such as from histories or biographies, and other times I just read to relax.  Mysteries and detective fiction often are my focus when I am relaxing.

A few weeks ago while digging through a shelf of dusty paperbacks, I came across The Snake, a book by famed crime author Mickey Spillane which features his hard-boiled detective, Mike Hammer.  Those of us old enough to have enjoyed television in the eighties undoubtedly remember Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer from the old CBS series.  It's hard for me to revisit that literary character without picturing Keach as Hammer.

The Snake, written by Spillane in 1964, was his sixth book in the Mike Hammer series - a string of books that continues to the present, though now Spillane works with a co-author, Max Allen Collins.  The Snake is an urban tale of corrupt politicians, police (some good, some not), beautiful Velda (Mike's secretary and more), and a young lady who believes that her step-father is trying to kill her.  It is interwoven with an abundance of crime:  an old robbery and three million dollars in missing loot, racketeers, drugs, and prostitution.

Mike Hammer, in his typical tough guy style, manages to kill a couple of people in the first few pages - and has his gun at-the-ready through the remaining chapters.  Hammer isn't necessarily on the side of the law, because sometimes the law or its agents are corrupt, but he is unswervingly on the side of justice.  He beds the beautiful women, kills the bad guys, and leaves the rest for the cops and society to sort out.

The Snake is not a great book, but it is typical fare for fans of Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer.   Read it to relax and get swept away in a hail of bullets, broads, booze, and bad guys.  Mickey and Mike  will probably never make it into a Norton's Anthology of Literature, but neither will they disappoint those who come looking for tales of gritty urban crime and gumshoes who aren't afraid to pull the trigger.

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