RARA-AVIS: Re: Real Cool Killers

From: Channing ( filmtroll@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 18 Jul 2007

True, there is no commie/Mafia hatred spouting in the first three Hammer books, but just to show I'm not completely off-base this is from "Kiss Me, Deadly" Mike Hammer Book #6

Plot Summary: "...Hammer decides that he can't walk away from the mystery after they both become victims to the Mafia; the woman is tortured and killed in front of him, and Hammer himself is pushed over a cliff in his car, surviving only when he is thrown clear. Hammer's disgust for the Mafia fuels him for the rest of the novel."

And here is a plot description from "One Lonely Night" Hammer Book
#4-- both quotes from the Buffalo Library database:

"...(Hammer's) uncertainty soon changes into swirling hatred and a personal quest for vengeance when he learns that both victims were involved with the Communist party. In Mike's view, the Commies are an evil force threatening the well-being of the United States, so he decides to infiltrate the group... Mike's response is one that he knows only too well -- find a weapon and give 'em all what they deserve: "Kill 'em left and right, show 'em that we aren't so soft after all. Kill, kill, kill, kill! They'll keep away from us then."

That is some sweet social commentary. I will suggest that both Himes and Spillane have social commentary but Himes'is just a wee bit more subtle.

I agree the religious con is a minor one in "Real Cool Killers" but the "Real Cool Moslems" are a street gang pretending to be Moslems. In other Himes books religious con men play bigger roles including two separate books featuring guys dressed up as nuns and one where a nonegenarian "preacher" runs a brothel out of a run-down funeral parlor.

I agree that several Spillane and Himes' books share the plot of protagonists going on a personal vendetta. I really enjoy those plots, which is why I like both authors. But I think other similarities are merely surface ones as the Himes books all feature unconventional mystery plots, and Coffin Ed and Gravedigger make intermittant appearances in the books. Hammer is ALWAYS the focus of his novels, and in the first six Mike Hammer books (the six that I've read) the plot is either a whodunnit or a revenge plot. The most conventional whodunnit in Himes is probably "The Crazy Kill" and to me that's the weakest book in the series.

Best wishes

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