Re: RARA-AVIS: New hardboiled definition

From: Brian Evankovich (
Date: 17 Sep 2002

Al wrote:

"If Mike Hammer only kills in self-defence, it's by accident, not intent.

In his own words: "I don't give a damn for a human life any more, even my own. Want to hear that philosophy? It's simple enough. Go after the big boys. Oh, don't arrest them, don't treat them to the dignity of the democratic process of courts and the same thing to them that they'd do to you! Treat 'em to the unglorious taste of sudden death." (ONE LONELY NIGHT)


Al, You're missing something in Hammer's development as a character in "One Lonely Night" but it's easy to miss it with all the "sleaze" to wade through. He spends most of the book hurt and angry and looking for the reason for his existence, and by the end, when he solves that dilemma, mellows out. A little. And as the Hammer books continued it became harder and harder for him to seek the "easy" solution like blowing the bad guys away. By "Survival Zero" he doesn't even want to get involved in a case where yet another friend gets murdered, but does so anyway because he knows he can't turn away. Also in the later books, probably due to Spillane's religious conversion, the bad guys are taken out either by themselves or some other way that doesn't directly invovle Hammer pulling the trigger. In
"The Killing Man" Hammer was ready to turn the bad guy over to the Feds but had to shoot when the guy went for a hdieout gun; ditto "Black Alley", where Hammer didn't kill anybody, even those that "needed" killing.

"One Lonely Night", the third or fourth Hammer, still showed him as a young war vet itching to shoot, and did so very well. That early stuff may be sleazy but nobody did it better and Spillane's work is still some of the best PI books ever written. --Brian

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