I’ll admit I’m not that familiar with the works of the late Mickey Spillane nor his classic hero Mike Hammer. Max Allan Collins however is one of those writers that keep popping up in my interests. Starting with the novelization of the Dick Tracy movie and continuing through to today Max has always entertained me with his writing. Even when writing characters created by others and never interested me before, (CSI for example), Collins name on the book always guarantees a fun read. So my lack of knowledge for Spillane and Hammer didn’t hold me back from giving this novel a try. Good thing I have an open mind, because this book was a lot of fun.
Mickey Spillane is long dead but Max takes the notes and manuscripts left behind, fills in the blanks, and unleashes more pulpy goodness into the world. In Complex 90 Mike Hammer is chosen to accompany a Senator on a trip to Moscow. Bad things happen and Hammer has to escape and find a way out of the Iron Curtain to return home. But that’s just the set up! Most other books would be complete with that premise. Hammer however is still not safe even when he is back in the States. Russian agents are looking for him and he begins to smell a set up.
If you’re expecting the novel to reveal new depths of the human experience, then pick up another book. However, if you’re in the mood for level upon level of increasing action and excitement, you’re at the right place. Hammer will mess people up. He will chase and be chased, shoot and be shot at. The escapism is more fun now then it would have been if this book came out during the Cold War. In a time when we’re all looking over our shoulders for the next terrorist attack its rather nostalgic to look back on this time when the wars were simpler. Russia vs the USA with the fate of the world in the balance and Mike Hammer in the middle of it! A book like this is so much more fun and less scary then tales of sleeper agents and home made bombs.
Sure, I knew all along that Mike Hammer was going to still be around at the end. That isn’t the point of reading the story. Tony Stark, Captain Kirk, Jack Bauer, all of them survive but the stories are still loved. I’m not sure how much of this novel is Spillane and how much is Collins, but either way Mike Hammer grows into the list of iconic characters. He’s just so much damn fun. The fights, the woman, the international intrigue — its all a guaranteed sit on the couch with a big dumb smile on your face because you’re having so much fun reading this kind of book.
(A review copy was provided by Titan Books.)