'The Big Bang' classic Spillane detective tale
THE BIG BANG. By Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Otto Penzler/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 247 pages. $25.
On the streets of 1960s New York, Mike Hammer, just back from a little rest and recuperation, stumbles onto a group of drug dealers beating up a hospital delivery boy. The dopers never stood a chance.
Hammer considers it a simple street crime, just the kind of thing that happens in the big city, until people start trying to kill him. "Trying" being the operative word. This is, after all, a Mike Hammer novel.
All this attention gets the private eye curious, and he soon uncovers an ambitious plot that threatens to turn New York City upside down.
Spillane, who died in 2006, began this book back in the 1960s but put it aside in favor of another novel. Nearly 20 years later, he showed it to Max Allan Collins, his longtime friend and disciple. Spillane gave Collins the manuscript for safekeeping just before Hurricane Hugo destroyed the writer's Murrells Inlet home in 1989.
Thank goodness for small gestures.
This is the second posthumous Hammer novel Collins has completed, and the results are a great success. "The Big Bang" feels even more like vintage Hammer than his previous collaboration with Spillane, "The Goliath Bone" (2008). Collins has a good ear, and his additions to Spillane's words are seamless.
"The Big Bang" is filled with classic Spillane villains, vixens and a healthy dose of Velda. Although the book is primarily for Spillane aficionados, it does not feel dated. In fact, it fits in nicely with the popular detective fiction of today.
And that is a testament to how much of a trailblazer Spillane really was.