Mike Hammer: Complex 90
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins' newest `collaboration' is a great read. Nobody makes this look easier than Mickey and no one can polish/finish like Max. This will go down in history as one of the great literary collaborations.
Complex 90 is set in the cold war--Mike Hammer meets (and defeats) the commies. The book's greatest one-liner (adopted as a tagline as part of the jacket notes): "They can't torture you if you kill them first."
For some reason or other (a point that will prove crucial to the plot), Mike has been asked to serve as a body guard for an American senator, taking a self-financed fact-finding tour of Moscow. When Mike is picked up on the Moscow streets and hustled off to a local prison for interrogation (for no apparent reason) the plot begins in earnest. Mike exits the prison (stepping through the blood and over the bodies) and wends his way through eastern Europe, escaping on an American troop plane in Turkey. There are forty-five bodies in his wake.
This constitutes the first act of the novel and does not occupy as much space as one might expect. The real story then transpires in New York. What was really going on here? Why was Mike selected to accompany the senator? Who was behind that? Why was he abducted?
On the one hand there is a blast from the past--spies and ne'er-do-wells who have tangled both with Mike and with Velda (herself a spy for a time, remember) are still around and hungry for revenge. There is also a scientific study under way, one which will give a decided advantage in the space race. Are the russkies working with an American traitor?
The book is effortless in its silky-smooth plot. No one plots with the ease and finesse of Mickey. At the same time, we have delicious representations of Moscow and, of course, New York. Velda is there for much of the book; Pat Chambers puts in an appearance and a number of lovelies throw themselves and their ample flesh at Mike. This is one of the sexier of the Spillane/Collins collaborations.
The ending is satisfying, the violence is satisfying and, as always, Mike is satisfying. The heart of the book, he remains his unreconstructed, old-fashioned self. A warrior in the Pacific during WWII, he is the ultimate survivor. He eats slabs of prime rib, hefts weighty .45's, eschews political correctness and draws women the way flames draw moths. Chandler said that the protagonist in these kinds of book is everything. The lesson was never lost on Mickey.
Highly recommended. Enjoy.