From: winter_writes@earthlink.net
Date: 01 Dec 2004

Is there anyone out there who does pure rage better than Mickey Spillane? Forget the errant knight. Mike Hammer is all about revenge. In I, THE JURY, Hammer piles up bodies to avenge the death of a friend. In MY GUN IS QUICK, Hammer stops at nothing to find the killer of a woman he met and knew for about five minutes.

VENGEANCE IS MINE revisists the same basic plot as I, THE JURY, but with some twists. It starts out with Hammer waking up from a hangover to find the police standing over him and a war buddy dead from an apparent suicide. Since the deceased used Hammer's gun while Hammer was passed out, Hammer loses his PI ticket. The DA couldn't be more pleased.

No problem. Girl Friday Velda has a PI ticket. So now Hammer works for Velda, and his first case as a legman is to get his PI ticket back. After some quick checking, both Hammer and Homicide dick Pat Chambers realize that the killing wasn't a suicide. The trail leads to a modeling agency that seems to be more than that.

Spillane doesn't dodge the parallels to I, THE JURY. He faces them head on, pointing out that Juno, the lady in charge of the agency, looks very much like Charlotte from the first novel.

VIM is as over the top as you'd expect the early Hammers to be. But what sets this story apart from the previous two is the impression that Hammer may not be the most reliable narrator. You can see how the story might be told from Pat Chambers' point of view or from Velda's, who holds her own in this one, even clipping one of the bad guys near the end. We know what's going on around Hammer. We also know he's a bit full of himself.

Which works just fine here. This is clearly a fantasy. Hammer breaks into people's houses and shoots people without a gun permit (in a couple of cases with the victim's own gun.)

Love him, hate him, Mike Hammer is a product of his times as much as Marlowe or Spenser or Patrick Kenzie. The paranoia and rage ooze throughout this story, especially in the latter half, when Hammer decides he's been too soft up until now.

Much is made of the body count in the early Hammers. THRILLING DETECTIVE points out that, out of the 48 people who die in the first five books, 34 die by Hammer's hand. In real life, a PI would lose his ticket, or at least his weapons permit, after two or three. Still, Hammer is damned restrained in both MY GUN IS QUICK and VENGEANCE IS MINE. Unless you count Anton Lipsek's car accident, brought on by Hammer chasing him, Hammer really only kills three or four people between the two books. That's not to say he's soft. He tells Chambers point blank he's going to kill the man who killed Chester Wheeler and get his ticket back. He does both.

Wait'll you see who the... um... guy is.

Jim Winter

http://www.jamesrwinter.com http://jamesrwinter.blogspot.com winter-newsletter-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Make a clean sweep of pop-up ads. Yahoo! Companion Toolbar. Now with Pop-Up Blocker. Get it for free! http://us.click.yahoo.com/L5YrjA/eSIIAA/yQLSAA/kqIolB/TM

RARA-AVIS home page: http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 01 Dec 2004 EST