Friday, May 7, 2010

The Twisted Thing by Mickey Spillane (included in The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume III)

For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, visit Pattinase.

14-year-old genius Rustin York is kidnapped and his father reflexively points the finger at the one ex-con in his employ. The ex-con calls Mike Hammer to help him out, and Hammer gets the guy released and rehired. The father is remorseful and asks Hammer to help find his son.

The Twisted Thing is the novel that author Mickey Spillane (who preferred being called a "writer" since he only did it for the money) sent to his publisher instead of finishing The Big Bang. It was actually his intended follow-up to I, the Jury and was originally titled For Whom the Gods Would Destroy. But when the public responded to the intensity of that book, he wrote the more similar My Gun Is Quick instead.

So, the "real" second Hammer novel sat unpublished for over a decade until the deadline for The Big Bang approached and that novel wasn't done. Spillane dusted off For Whom the Gods Would Destroy, added some references to cases Hammer had taken in the intervening time, changed the title, and turned it in instead, leaving readers without a true Hammer response to the late '60s until Max Allan Collins completed The Big Bang this year.

This novel has all the Spillane hallmarks: deep characterization, a fast plot, realistic dialogue (peppered generously with tough-guy slang), and a great deal of sensitivity shown through Hammer's treatment of Rustin York, boy genius. It also has the expected "surprise" ending (though honestly, anyone who doesn't see this one coming a mile away hasn't read enough Agatha Christie). So, though The Twisted Thing doesn't reach classic status, it still has a lot to offer Hammer fans.

Further reading:

Big Bang co-author Max Allan Collins's recommendation of The Twisted Thing on the The Rap Sheet's continuing series of The Book You Have to Read.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Somehow I was convinced as a kid that reading Mickey Spillane would send me right to hell and I have never gotten past that. Need to read one.

Todd Mason said...

I don't like Spillane's work as much as many do, and I never met the man (he seems like he was a grand old guy), but he sure was underrated in many ways. He's a better writer than Ian Fleming ever was, for one.

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