Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mickey Spillane Turns 100: Max Allan Collins On Sex, Violence, And Mike Hammer

As I noted in my Crime Beat column on the late crime writer, Mickey Spillane's I, the Jury was one of the first crime thrillers I read as a boy. I thought it was terrific.

The novel was tough, violent and sexy. I loved the book's wild ending. I thought it was a cool book.

I went on to read better crime novels and thrillers, like the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ian Fleming, Eric Ambler and others, but I remember fondly Spillane's I, the Jury like one remembers his first girlfriend.

I love Spillane's "fuck you" attitude regarding critics. Despite the terrible reviews he received during his life, he sold millions of copies of his books. He wrote unabashedly for money and he said his books were the chewing gum of American literature. offers a piece by Max Allan Collins, himself a crime writer, and a friend to the late Mickey Spillane. He has completed many of Spillane’s unfinished works, included the newly published, The Last Stand.

In July of 2006, at the age of 88, the last major mystery writer of the twentieth century left the building. Only a handful of writers in the genre—Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler among them—achieved such superstar status.

Spillane’s position, however, is unique—reviled by many mainstream critics, despised and envied by a number of his contemporaries in the very field he revitalized, the creator of Mike Hammer had an impact not just on mystery and suspense fiction but popular culture in general.
The success of the paperback reprint editions of his startlingly violent and sexy novels—tens of millions of copies sold—jumpstarted the explosion of so-called “paperback originals,” for the next quarter-century the home of countless Spillane imitators, and his redefinition of the action hero as a tough guy who mercilessly executed villains and slept with beautiful, willing women remains influential (Sin City is Frank Miller’s homage).

When Spillane published I, the Jury in 1947, he introduced in Mike Hammer one of the most famous of all fictional private eyes, and one unlike any P.I. readers had met before. Hammer swears vengeance over the corpse of an army buddy who lost an arm in the Pacific, saving the detective’s life. No matter who the villain turns out to be, Hammer will not just find him, but kill him—even if it’s a her.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Mickey Spillane via the below link:

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