THE LONG WAIT (1951) by Mickey Spillane

Well, I suppose it had to happen sooner or later at Fedora! After a year and a half of blogging it is time to confront some potentially ingrained snobbery and decided if we have descended to the level of Mickey Spillane, or risen to it … An author that still divides fans and critics alike (and whose body of work continues to grow posthumously thanks to the ex-post-facto collaborative efforts of Max Allan Collins), the arrival of Mike Hammer in 1947 launched a new type of hardboiled hero, one driven by a lust for revenge, an appetite for extreme violence and a complete disregard for the niceties of law and order. This is very much the era of the post-war Noir anti-hero, one shaped by the horrors of war and a return to a home very different from the one left behind.

I offer the following review as part of the Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog which this week reaches the letter L. My contribution is also eligible under the guidelines of  Bev’s 2012 Vintage Mystery Readers Challenge for which I have selected to read and review at least eight mystery novels on the theme of amnesia published pre-1960 and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted this week by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog. Phew! So, onwards, the book …

“Just for kicks I reached out, grabbed him by the arms and threw him all the way across the room”

First things first – this book does not feature Mike Hammer, the author’s controversial punch-in-the-face-first and ask-question-later protagonist. Instead we have a different man, albeit one who physically, ethically and psychologically certainly resembles him very closely – which should come as no surprise as all Spillane’s ‘heroes’ were made in his own rugged, crew cut image (see the photo below, courtesy of Wikipedia). So, why did Spillane change the lead character? Well, that’s a good question and the reason is that we are not 100% sure who he is -  as a matter of fact, he isn’t too sure either … Our narrator arrives at a den of iniquity known as Lyncastle on the bus and right away is given a very poor reception. An old man at the station recognises him as Johnny McBride and pleads with him to run; then a policeman tells him to get clean out of town as they don’t like strangers (which is odd considering alcohol and gambling appear to be its main source of income). The next morning, bright and early, he gets picked up by the cops, who immediately beat the hell out of him and try to arrest him for murder. It seems that six years earlier the local DA was found dead in his office and Johnny had a motive as he was about to be arrested for stealing $200,000 from the bank where he worked. To cap it all, the man was shot with a gun covered in Johnny’s fingerprints. Things are certainly looking bad but our protagonist has a unique solution to his current dilemma – he no longer has fingerprints! This really, really annoys Captain Lindsey, who is on a crusade to crucify Johnny. But that’s OK, because Johnny has a mission all his own.

“One was going to die. One was going to get both arms broken … one was going to get a beating that would leave the marks of the lash striped across the skin for all the years left to live. The last one was a woman.”

Johnny is the proverbial bull in a china shop, creating violent disorder wherever he goes, chain-smoking an endless supply of ‘butts’, drinking prodigious quantities of coffee and alcohol, bedding an unseemly number of shapely women (they all just throw themselves at him without hesitation) while getting shot at, run off the road and generally beaten to a pulp, just to see what he can shake loose from the tree. The basic premise is taken from Hammett’s classic bad town novel, Red Harvest, while Johnny’s pursuit of the long-lost Vera, who also worked at the bank and maybe framed our man, apes Moose Malloy’s pursuit of the equally absent and similarly named Velma from Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely. But Johnny is not too bright, certainly not in the same league as the Continental Op or Marlowe. For instance,

“Someplace I had read about twins, how there was thought transference. Maybe it happened to people who look alike too.”

This less than scientific bit of pseudo thought stems from the book’s outlandish new wrinkle. In the accident where he had his fingerprints burned off, he not only also lost his memory but also met his doppelgänger, Johnny McBride. So who is the narrator? So far he has not been able to find out anything about himself, other than a name: George Wilson. As if this weren’t a heady enough plot development, he discovered that not only was he a dead ringer for another man, but that his best new friend, accused of murder, was run out of Lyncastle 6 years earlier. After his friend dies while saving his life, George/Johnny decides to clear his name, discover out who framed him, exact revenge and maybe even find out his own real identity! The best way to do it seems to involve punching as many people as possible before the police manage to make their accusations stick. He discovers that 6 years earlier local kingpin Lenny Servo was going around with Vera so decides that they must be the ones responsible for all his troubles. Time for some more violence described in graphic detail – indeed, I really did lose count of the number of beating and coshing the narrator dishes out and absorbs.

“I had time to see him vomit all over himself before my own head burst open in a blaze of fiery streaks that sent a curse of ungodly pain down into every single little nerve fibre throughout my body and I knew that this was what it was like to die.”

The book is utterly preposterous with a hero so tough that literally he just has to stare at baddies to make them faint (he actually does this twice). In its appeal to all the atavistic appetites associated with pulp fiction, with women who all prove to be either strippers, prostitutes, brain-dead blondes or combinations of all three and various narrative gimmicks that are repeated over and over, it becomes easy to see that Spillane got his start in comic strips, especially in its very functional prose. Even the best that William L. DeAndrea could say of the author’s style, and he was a fan, was that he manged to master his subjunctives, which really isn’t saying a hell of a lot. Bill Crider, who definitely knows a thing or three about mystery writing, suggested in 1001 Midnights (republished here) that this book is not meant to be taken too seriously. This certainly helps in one’s enjoyment, though personally I think Crider is giving Spillane a bit too much credit as there is little to differentiate this from the equally thuggish and dunderhead Hammer books of the era. They made fairly decent movie fodder though and The Long Wait was filmed in 1954 by Victor Saville, the British producer who bought the rights to several of Spillane novels. Apart from actually directing this adaptation, that stars Anthony Quinn, his other Spillane productions included the 3-D version of I, The Jury (1953), the Noir classic Kiss Me Deadly (1955), My Gun is Quick (1957) and the pilot for the TV show Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (1954) starring Brian Keith, which never went to series.

So what did we make of this? Well, I’ve given it 2 stars. One because in its own vulgar way it certainly works within the confines of the tough guy genre – and because the amnesia plot is actually decently worked out, if based on a postulate that is utterly ridiculous. And the other star is for an outrageous final ‘clue’ literally revealed during a striptease-at-gunpoint finale that, as Crider points out, refashions the same ending from I, the Jury.  Here though it is used to deliver a what, in its own scabrous way, is something of a first in detective fiction. Intriguingly, this is a first not a million miles away from Sayer’s slightly naughty (and initially censored) use of a common physical attribute in her 1923 whodunit, Whose Body? That’s pretty decent company to be in actually, even if one imagines that the glee with which this was met by the adolescent youths it was aimed at would not have met with Sayers’ approval. Also not a bad thing perhaps.

***** (2 fedora tips out of 5)

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This entry was posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Amnesia, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Dashiell Hammett, Friday's Forgotten Book, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler. Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to THE LONG WAIT (1951) by Mickey Spillane

  1. Sergio – Thanks for this review. You bring up such an interesting point in discussing the “in-your-face” approach Spillane used. As you point out, hate it or love it, Spillane’s approach was an innovation and as such deserves to be remembered. I’m glad you highlighted some of his work. I will confess to not being much of a fan of his attitude toward women, as evidenced in so much of his work. But in terms of innovative writing style, a new kind of protagonist and some hard-hitting action (and some decent plots) yes, Spillane was a major player.

    • Thnaks Margot, very kind. I put off blogging about Spillane because I knew it would be basically negative but then I found this one that I hadn’t read and the amnesia themese is one that usually gets brownie points from me so this seemed like a good compromise. It is fascinating how many Spillane apologists are out there – as you point out, the context is all important and I wonder if newer readers would feel the same way when reading his books divorced from the period in which they were originally produced. Plenty of very good writers have serious things to say about his output – I remain basically unsympathetic I’m afraid, but they are definitely fun to talk about!

  2. Mike Ripley says:

    I can’t remember a thing about The Long Wait except that Corgi paperback cover – the edition I bought as a teenager – but several Spillane scenes from other books (I, The Jury????) are still lodged in the mind decades later. When an author’s name becomes an adjective, you know they’ve made it, e.g.: Buchanesque, Ambleresque, Greene-land. I remember Gore Vidal’s very clever mysteries weritten as Edgar Box being described simply as “Spillane in Mink”. No other description was necessary in the 1950s/60s. I have several American writer friends who knew Spillane – without being fans of his work – and all have told me what a charming and funny man he was. At conventions and book signings (so I’m told) he had a standard response when a fans approached him saying how much they enjoyed his books. He would grasp them with a vigorous handshake and repeat, like a mantra: “Tell your friends, tell your family; tell your friends, tell your family…”

    • Cheers Mike – as usual I think you are definitely spot on and Spillane’s seems to be as much a state of mind as a body or work. I, the Jury is the first and certainly the one I remember the mnost clearly with the daft and unforgettable “How could you?” “It was Easy!” finale!

  3. curtis evans says:

    I have to admit I just can’t get into Spillane. I just don’t find the style appealing at all, maybe I’m testosterone deficient or something. It’s kind of the same way I feel about Sapper, and then some. I actually have found Sax Rohmer a more entertaining writer, though of course the Asian material is problematic, to say the least. But Sax Rohmer, like Spillane, has his high profile, prominent defenders, and all his Fu Manchu books are being brought back into print. I was thinking about blogging about this, but it’s such a controversial subject! I get myself in enough hot water as it is!

    I’ll concede Spillane was historically important in establishing visceral, earthy 1950s American crime fiction. Obviously Spillane and Jim Thompson and Chester Himes take us a long way away from the formal English detective novel of Sayers and James (I know the first three writers are much different from each other, but they all have that sort of visceral writing). It’s no wonder that Ross MacDonald is the only “tough” crime novelist James wrtites about with much enthusiasm. Probably more things happen in a dozen sentences of a Spillane or Himes novel than entire chapters of a James!

    • Hi Curt, I am a huge fan of hardbpilked writers and the dark noir of authors such as Jim Thompson; Himes on the other hand was a writer basically just padelling his own canoe at the fringes of the genre but adding something very important in terms of providing a new kind of voice. Like you, I remain fundamentally unconvinced by Spillane beyond his historical importance, but then I’m a card carrying commie so I would really, wouldn’t I …. Would love to read what you have to say about Rohmer’s ‘yellow peril’ – just had a friend re-read the whole lot and he was very plesantly surprised.

  4. Patrick says:

    Honestly, I just don’t like Spillane. Is he important? Sure. Is it possible to like his stuff? I guess. But I personally hate it and have no intention of ever returning to Mike Hammer. I’d sooner read another Evadne Mount novel!

    • Hi Patrick, good to hear from you. I remember you were not a fan though it does put superior hardboiled writers in perspective! A lot of very smart people really like Spillane – i just hate it when people I admire can see somethign i don’t … Speaking of Evadne Mount (… just kidding).

  5. Maxine says:

    Amazing covers! I once read a Mickey Spillaine/Mike Hammer book as I’d heard so much about them and was at that time devouring US authors such as Hammett, Chandler, Hillary Waugh, Cain and Hadley Chase. I think I was about 15. Anyway, I was just so embarrassed by the Spillaine book that I did not ever read any more! (I think I was very innocent then).

    • Thanks Maxine – it’s pretty vulgar stuff, designed to appeal to adolescents everywhere – trouble is, that’s how I feel about a lot of genre writing which I do enjoy! Just about to embark on some Hadley Chase after a 20-year dry spell actually, quite looking forward to it!

  6. It’s always dismaying to me to find an intelligent contemporary reviewer not “getting” Spillane. THE LONG WAIT is not one of my favorite Spillane novels, but it has plenty of energy and is good pulp fun, and explores the corrupt-small-town theme in Mickey’s own distinctive manner. I won’t argue his mertis with you, because I have come to feel that it’s like trying to convice a Cole Porter enthusiast that Lennon and McCartney have value. Spillane really is rock ‘n’ roll, not coincidentally appearing almost concurrently with it. I will touch on a couple of points, one raised in the comments. Spillane’s attitude toward women was almost certainly more modern than either Hammett or Chandler — Hammer’s “secretary” Velda is his partner in the PI agency, with a license and a gun, and handles herself with strength and intelligence. The women in Spillane tend to be strong, and are usually his protagonist’s equals. The lead character of THE LONG WAIT is not brilliant, and neither is Hammer, though both have shrewd instincts — these men are blue-collar, average joes who have returned from the combat of WW 2 damaged, and with a capacity for violence. As for the “perfunctory” manner of Spillane’s writing, first-person prose that tumbles from the side of a tough guy’s mouth looks easy, but isn’t. And if you think Spillane couldn’t write, read the opening pages of ONE LONELY NIGHT and KISS ME, DEADLY, which represent noir poetry at its most vivid. I am not an apologist for Spillane. I am someone who sees both his merit and his importance, an importance shared only with Hammett, Chandler and Cain. I invite readers to try Spillane, but only with an open mind, and would suggest any of the first six books — the masterpiece is ONE LONELY NIGHT, but it’s probably not where to start. I would also invite readers to try my recent collaborations with Mickey (working from substantial — 100-page — unfinished manuscripts), in particular KISS HER GOODBYE and the recently published LADY, GO DIE!

    • Dear Mr Collins,

      first, thank you very much for taking the time to comment on my review of The Long Wait, it’s an honour and privilege to have your voice added to the comments here. I don’t think anyone considers The Long Wait to be Spillane’s best or best-known work and One Lonely Night, which was also a swipe at Spillane’s critics, is one that I also plan on reviewing here along with Kiss Me Deadly, which most fans would I think consider finer novels. I do enjoy many of the writers from the era, such as Goodis, Charles Williams and Jim Thompson, so I hope I wasn’t too unsympathetic though I realise my criticisms may also stem from generational and cultural difference too (I’m from Italy, was born in the late 60s and have always voted Communist as it is a genuine left-wing party of opposition there). It truly frustrates me when people of intelligence and distinction can see things that I don’t seem to be able to, so I shall take this as my opportunity to re-read the early Hammer canon and see what happens. Thanks again for your very generous contribution, it is greatly appreciated.

      Regards,

      Sergio

    • Curt Evans says:

      I can sympathize about people not “getting” authors one likes. I actually run into people occasionally who dismiss the Humdrum British detective novelists as boring! Imagine! The nerve!

      I have to admit to be someone not attracted to Spillane. Yet to cite something else from the 1950s that has been historically controversial, I was always a big EC Comics fan. I have the newer hardcover editions, one of which of course has an introduction from you, and I just love them. The gore and violence there doesn’t bother me at all! But I find it a turnoff in Spillane, I think, because it’s seems so much a part of the character of Hammer himself. I confess I don’t like Hammer! EC Comics has retributive justice as well, but it’s usually just “fate” or cosmic forces, not some mean SOB like Hammer.

      • Interesting point Curt as Spillane and EC publisher William Gaines suffered some of the same critical backlash in the 50s. Not read much EC (always more of a Marvel man growing up) – which reminds me, I just got a copy of Mr Collins’ A KILLING IN THE COMICS and hope to run a review very shortly …

  7. TracyK says:

    This is the first time that you have featured a work by an author that I have (until recently) had no desire to experience. In the last year, I had decided that I should read Spillane if only for the experience and to know from first-hand experience what his writing is like. (Trouble is that there is so much I want to read and I will definitely not get to all of them…).

    Anyway, this is a good overview and does still encourage me to give Spillane’s books a try, and the comments from Max Allan Collins give me some idea of where to start. So thanks for writing this post.

    And, as always, I appreciate the images of the covers. I like book cover art almost as much as the stories inside.

    • Thanks very much TracyK, very kind. Max allan Collins of course is a real expert – he has spoken on Spillane’s work in several places online, including boingboing, Forbes, sound on sight and of couyrse his homepage at maxallancollins.com.

      • TracyK says:

        I was aware that Collins had completed one Mike Hammer novel (but not multiple ones) and is a great fan of Spillane. However, I had not seen those links. The Sound on Sight one is especially interesting; I will have to go back and read it all the way through. I had no idea that there was a Darren McGavin TV show. That could be interesting.

        • I hope to get my hands on the DVD set and will run a review when I can – what’s interesting about it is that they also adapted stories by other well-known writers for the series such as one of other faves from the era, Ed McBain.

  8. 03261970 says:

    Spillane knew for whom he was writing and did not disapppoint his audience. At the same time, he was not afraid to stretch his limits. The first chapter of ONE LONELY NIGHT can easily hold its own against most other American writing.

    • Thanks very much Jerry – I hope to run a review of One Lonely Night quite shortly, even with all that Commie-bashing!

      • Curt Evans says:

        I like to think of myself as more a centrist but even I get tired of the (literal!) Commie-bashing in Spillane. But I don’t like the bashing in general. Hammer in the books seems so full of explosive rage. I guess people are impressed with the visceral force of the writing, but it’s just not something that appeals to me. Of course I was pretty disgusted with The Killer Inside Me too, to be honest! I did get through A Hell of a Woman and was pretty impressed, but, man, is his world a bleak one! If Kafka had written 1950s pulp fiction, it would have been like JT, I suspect.

        • I completely agree with you Curt about the characters in those Thompson books – they are genuine psychopaths and being in their company is really hard work – but that is part of the fascination that they exert and why they are so successful. There is certainly something very compelling and disturbing about the emergence of such characters in postwar American literature and the spell they held over so many millions of readers. Hammer clearly belongs to that feverish tradition and perhaps even spearheaded it – to what extent is such a persona meant to be a positive one, accepted uncritically, is a bit of a toughie. I do now want to re-read the earlier Spillane books and see if my memory holds up or if my opinions have changed in any way. I’ve not been a fan but perhaps that will change …

  9. Curt Evans says:

    I should mention that I actually really enjoy the film Kiss Me Deadly. There should have been more Ralph Meeker Hammers.

    • Kiss Me Deadly is a genuine Noir classic and one of my favourite films. The Criterion DVD/Blu-ray, which is a joy to behold incidentally, has a fascinating excerpt from MAC’s documentary on Spillane in the extras. It does make Hammer a really loathesome character in the process, but it is a classic example where a film, while being fairly faithful to the plot, subverts much of the substance and still works completely on its own terms.

  10. Todd Mason says:

    In my first-draft musings, unfinished last week dealing with literary schools in “conflict”, I note the opposition supposedly between fans of cozy v. hardboiled…with the citation of Christie v. Spillane. As I didn’t quite spell out, that opposition is rather spurious, even given the real differences in the writers’ work…but imagine trying to illustrate the same “divide” with John D. MacDonald v. Ngaio Marsh, or Ross Macdonald v. Ellery Queen.

    • Curt Evans says:

      Yeah, Chandler and Ross Macdonald didn’t like Spillane either as I recall. And P. D. James loves Ross Macdonald. The idea that there are these two uniform opposed camps is pretty spurious, I think.

      By the way, these were some publisher suggested titles for Macdonald’s The Barbarous Coast. I mention this in my blog review of the book. I find the titles hilariously inapposite for Macdonald, but it seems in the 1950s his publisher wanted more violence in his books:

      Skull Crasher
      Cut the Throat Slowly
      My Gun Is Me (deep!)
      The Blood Pit
      Blood on My Knuckles
      His Head in the Gutter
      A Fist in the Guts
      A Handful of Guts

      If this list were longer they would have gotten round to “Guts in the Gutter,” I bet!

      • Thanks for those Curt, they’re great (in a terrible way). I think I read about some of these types of titles in the Bruccoli biography of Macdonald (haven’t read the Nolan yet) – they are truly risible and do seem almost parodic (at least today). It must have been dispiriting for Macdonald, who at that stage couldn’t even have the satisfaction of Spillane’s incredible book sales to lean on for support in such discussions.

    • That would be great Todd, I think I’d enjoy that kind of oppositional dialectical discourse! Mind you, maybe if we picked Queen’s Cop Out or Christie’s Endless Nightthe comparisons wouldn’t be quite so spurious. The one figure I am truly ignorant of here is John D. Macdonald as I have read very few of his and he is another author I just don;t seem to be able to ‘get’ – Patti’s meme on his work a few months ago really made me want to remedy that just to see if I can start to understand what the fuss is all about.

  11. John says:

    I’ll have to agree with MAC about the women in Spillane’s books. Most people think Spillane is sexist, but he’s not really. The women are tough and strong and smart in addition to being shapely and sexy. I can cite you several examples of descriptions of female characters that are far from the kind of sex object writing about legs and breasts and lips. And those descriptions impressed me as approaching poetry, not vulgur or kinky. Still, Mike Hammer is a sadist – no reader can deny that or rationalize it. Interesting that MAC did not mention his most recent Spillane collaboration THE CONSUMMATA – maybe that’s more in the I, THE JURY mode. I don’t know and I probably won’t find out either. I had my sample of Spillane and it was more than enough for me.

    • Thanks very much for that John – the women in The Long Wait did seem just one cliche after another to me. I didn’t bother mentioning it in the review, but it does get daft when one of the prostitutes has clothes made with a tassel that the hero just tugs so that the dress opens and falls off as he sweep on his way out (a gimmick repeated twice, which one could literally see as a comic strip panel); or another female character, a kept woman this time, who literally is given no clothes in her apartment so that she can’t ‘escape’ from her protector, which is a really juvenile idea. Then another character who, with her dying breath, asks Johnny to undress her as it turns out she glued a vital clue to her naked body; then another instance when Johnny and a woman are shot at while driving and he sees blood on her neck and so has to open her dress and check out her breasts to make sure it’s nothing serious, a gag worthy of Steve Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid) .. and so on, and so on … I certainly look forward to looking again at some of the other novels he wrote in the era with a particular eye on his depictions of women.

  12. Glad to see so much lively response here on this topic. Let me follow up on a few things that appear in the comments….

    There really isn’t much “Commie bashing,” literal or otherwise, in the Mike Hammer books. Only one novel deals with Russian agents and subversion in America, and that’s ONE LONELY NIGHT. Another, THE GIRL HUNTERS, has a KGB assassination team as the bad guys. And “bad guys” is the point: Commies are just Blue Meanies in Spillane. There’s really nothing political about it, not in any sophisticated sense. The Hammer book I just completed (the 4th such) deals with Russia again, and in fact Hammer visits Russia, and you might call this book (COMPLEX 90, out next year) the third of a “Commie” trilogy. Otherwise Hammer is just up against the mob and greedy murderers.

    I am, by the way, a liberal. Mickey and I didn’t discuss politics, but he knew I was left-leaning and that didn’t stop him from putting Hammer in my hands. He understood, as a writer does, that a character is a character. That he wasn’t presenting Hammer as role model, but as a rough-hewn, somewhat psychotic and very interesting protagonist. The core idea was that Hammer deals with bad guys in the bad guys’ own fashion — he is no sadist, though he may seem sadistic when he delivers rough justice. The tough hero who deals with a villain on the villain’s own terms is one of Spillane’s great contributions.

    You might be surprised to learn that I am also a Christie fan. She is the detective hero of my novel THE LONDON BLITZ MURDERS. It comes back in print later this year.

    Regarding EC Comics and the McCarthy Era witchhunt they got caught up in: Mickey was the only prose fiction writer that Dr. Frederic Wertham attacked in his anti-comic book screed, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. I have a novel coming out next year with that same title in which a Wertham type is the murder victim and, of course, the comic-book industry of the early ’50s is the backdrop. Titan is bringing it out (as a Hard Case Crime title).

    Those titles that were suggested for Ross Macdonald are all Spillane-imitative — showing R.M.’s publisher’s desire to capitalize on Mickey’s success, but also indicating that Macdonald was able to sell his novels in a marketplace that Spillane revitalized. Guys like Jim Thompson and David Goodis also had careers thanks in part to Mickey’s success — Gold Medal Books, the first American paperback original publisher, was formed specifically to publish Spillane-style books to the audience that Mickey had uncovered. Thompson and Goodis (and John D. MacDonald and Charles Williams and so many others) were pubbed by Gold Medal.

    I urge you to put aside your prejudices and restrain any knee-jerk reactions, and re-examine Mickey Spillane, who was both enormously influential and one of the great storytellers of the 20th Century.

    • Thanks very much for all that feednack – I was thinking expressly of One Lonely Night viz-a-viz the (literal) Commie bashing though I have only seen the movie of The Girl Hunters. Really looking forward to your Seduction of the Innocent, that sounds great.

  13. Curt Evans says:

    I was just noticing that your Murders series is going to be reissued. I was planning to review the Van Dine one but am holding off until it comes out. I like what Titan is doing with the Sax Rohmers, they’re very nice editions. And the Sherlock Holmes books, they’re going a lot of interesting things.

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  15. Curt Evans says:

    Sergio, I would pay good money to read a hardboiled novel called “My Gun is I”! A hard-boiled novel written in the voice of a pedantic classical English detective novelist would be, well, classic.

    Actually, there’s a fantastic Anthony Berkeley Cox parody of the hard-boiled/noir style, The Policeman Only Taps Once.

    • Never read “Six Against The Yard” – ooh, another wonderful book to add to my pile. I’m going to have to thank this ‘controversial’ review just for leading to some really great sounding books – hurrah!

  16. Hi Sergio, looks like your review of Spillane’s THE LONG WAIT has got the adrenaline rushing through readers and commentators on your blog. Most enjoyable so far! Although I have read a few Spillane years before and I’m not particularly a fan of his work, I’m looking at him and his fiction with new perspective, especially the one so generously offered by Mr. Collins. That a renowned author like Spillane should have a very established writer like Mr. Collins to continue his unfinished work is, indeed, a privilege that few writers have. After reading your review and the comments I read up on Spillane on the internet and came across this quote by Spillane to his wife, Jane, “When I’m gone, it will be a treasure hunt around here. Call Max—he’ll know what to do with what you find.” That’s really something, isn’t it!

    Elsewhere, being a huge comic-book fan, I look forward to reading his novelisation of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, the notorious original of which, i think, led to the Comics Code that we see on comic-book covers to this day. I wonder if COMPLEX 90, the unpublished Hammer novel that Mr. Collins refers to, is about the Cold War with both the KGB and CIA in it. I’d really like to read that one.

    • There have been some fascinating contributions to the conversation thus far Prashant, thanks very much for adding your too. Seduction of the Innocent does sound good, doesn’t it? It’s a fascinating period – earlier on Collins referred to Complex 90 as the third part of an informal Spillane/Hammer Commie ‘trilogy’ so looks like you’ll get your wish there!

  17. Judy Harper says:

    I think I may have read one or two years ago, but couldn’t become a fan. I did like the Mike Hammer TV series with Stacy Keach. Good review!

    • Thanks very much Judy. I remember the Stacy Keach series with great fondness (not least for its use of the wonderful ‘Harlem Nocturne’ by Earle Hagen as its theme tune):

  18. Stacy Keach reads the audio books of my four (so far) posthumous Spillane “Mike Hammer” collaborations (THE GOLIATH BONE, THE BIG BANG, KISS HER GOODYBE and LADY, GO DIE!), and he stars as Hammer with full casts in the audio productions of my full-length radio plays (2 12/ hrs each), THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: Volumes Two and Three: THE LITTLE DEATH and ENCORE FOR MURDER. Both derive from Spillane material. LITTLE DEATH won the Audie for Best Original Audio Work, and ENCORE FOR MURDER was nominated for the same award. He makes a fine Hammer.

    • You can certainly consider me a fan – I really like Keach, from the loser in underrated John Huston classic Fat City to the racist in the troubled but fascinating American History X, even in the fairly daft Minstral’s Daughter, he has delivered really solid performances. Speaking of his audio roles, I also really liked his radio versions of The Twilight Zone which are available on the Blu-ray releases of the TV series. In 1984 he had to spend nine months in the prison down the road from where I currently live in the UK – apparently this was the inspiration for his characters in season 1 of Prison Break (a show that certainly started very well).

  19. Bill Crider says:

    I’ve been off-line for a few days, so I’m late to the party. I really do believe that Spillane was winking at us a little. He had a great sense of humor. This book starts off over the top and builds from there. I grin a little just thinking about it.

    • Hello Bill, thanks very much for joining this now magnificently mammoth conversation, one with almost as many peaks and troughs as the book under discussion in fact! I have certainly been persuaded to look again at some of the other Spillane titles from the period, though I really get the impression that The Long Wait is fundamentally thought of one of the lesser of the titles from the era – would that be fair? It is certainly over-the-top but is it that much more so than many of his other books from those years?

  20. Pingback: NIGHT WALKER (1954) by Donald Hamilton | Tipping My Fedora

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  22. Craig says:

    I read this book back in 1980, and it left a definite impression on me. I never liked to read, but needed something to do. A friend recommended the book, so I thought why not. It started out alright, and became more and more interesting as the story went on. I have often tried to remember the title, and had to wait 33 years to find out. Thanks for helping, and I plan on reading it again; not to mention, I will also recommend a book that is a quick read.

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