Whoa, another novel! Is this really relevant to the sporadic comic book reviews posted to this site? Yes, as it turns out it relates more to comic books than I could have guessed.
According to Wikipedia, Mickey Spillane was a comic book writer. After reading the first two chapters this comes as no surprise. Mike Hammer is basically golden age Batman (the one with guns) but without the costume.
I didn’t like this book
I usually avoid writing negative reviews, but my opinion on this title won’t impact any of the millions this book has already raked in. So, I’m doing it. The book feels like it was written by an eighth grade boy. If the scene doesn’t have the Mike Hammer beating somebody up, then it has one of several women throwing themselves at him. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it these actions advanced the plot. But they don’t.
In the same way I’m able to sit through a B movie, I powered through this title. No disrespect to B movies, because there are some that are really fun to watch. This book had moments that were fun, but most of it was disconnected and incoherent.
In short, it’s a character driven book and I didn’t like the character that was driving it.
A Little Character Analysis
For as much as women continually take off their clothes in front of Mike Hammer, he never seals the deal with any of them. He narrates as if he’s run all the bases before (without explicitly saying so), but always comes up with an excuse to duck out. Usually referring to the woman’s virtue (if I’m remembering correctly). He even thanks the army’s films on VD with giving him the strength to turn these women down.
So, what gives? Is he trying to be virtuous as well? It really isn’t clear.
Also, Mike Hammer, is a bully. He sells himself as virtuous bully. But he still bullies people he doesn’t have to and complains about people that are different from him just because.
The First Victim
The crime that starts this whole thing off is the murder of Mike Hammer’s best friend Jack. It stinks that we lost Jack so early, because he would have been a great character to contrast Mike. Everything I learned about Jack was swell. This was a guy who literally lost one of his arms for his best friend (who is a jerk). He cared about people and tried to help them out. Mike beats people up and in his spare time rejects the naked women who he constantly runs into.
So much was lost by offing Jack on the first page. A friendship like Jack & Mike’s would involve Jack bailing Mike out of all sorts of messes. Telling Mike he had crossed the line. or just plain saying “Shut up Mike”.
Not that Jack would have been better off without Mike. Jack is too trusting and needs a guy like Mike to get him out of a jam.
But the world will never get to see the drama between these two friends and the adventures they share because Jack was killed on page one.
Influence on His Environment
One of the most important traits for a main character to have is the ability to influence the environment around him or her. At the start, it felt like Mike could make anything happen. But suddenly and inexplicably this ability dropped off, and Mike was pretty much along for the ride.
Oh for the love of God there were so many useless details! One may argue that they are red herrings. Red herrings are misdirection and can effectively move the plot (the main character gets the red herring only to find out the red herring is innocent!). Useless details take up space and at best bore the reader to the point where they wonder why they are reading this story in the first place.
I don’t get how this book and others in the series were so popular.