Kill Him Goodbye

May 3rd, 2011 by Max Allan Collins

As I write this, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s news is fresh – my son Nate called me late Sunday night to tell me that Bin Laden had been killed and that the President was about to speak – so I don’t feel comfortable this week with my normal plug-flung update.

I live in the Midwest, and Mickey Spillane (for much of his later life) lived in the South, but Mike Hammer was the quintessential New Yorker. Mickey felt strongly about Bin Laden’s assault on his city and his country…so much so that his last Mike Hammer novel, which I had the honor of completing, was a 9/11 story (THE GOLIATH BONE).

Goliath Bone

I can say this much: somewhere Mickey is smiling. I know Mike Hammer is. Bin Laden taking a bullet in the eye is perfect. Couldn’t have written it better myself. Even Mickey couldn’t have.

The book I was working on when the Twin Towers went down was THE LUSITANIA MURDERS. That particular crime/disaster had eerie echoes of 9/11, and I immediately questioned whether I should go on with it. Again, as a Midwesterner, I do a lot of business in New York, and for several days I was doing my best to get in touch with editors and friends (my agent Dominick Abel and my mentor Don Westlake among them), to make sure they were alive and well. It was an odd time, and for several weeks, a lot of us in the storytelling game – particularly those who deal in crime and violence – found ourselves questioning exactly what it is we do.

Soon writers and other entertainers came to their senses – storytelling is in the blood of the human race – but it was a self-reflective and extremely weird time. Weird enough for Mickey to set aside one “last” Mike Hammer novel (the still-to-be-completed KING OF THE WEEDS) to begin another (THE GOLIATH BONE). He wanted Mike Hammer to weigh in.

This is from THE GOLIATH BONE. It is a passage mostly written by Mickey. It was on a scrap of his distinctive yellow paper and perhaps was not meant for the novel, but I felt it was perfect and wove it in:

You stand at the heart of New York City and look east to where the twin monuments once stood, gargantuan edifices that reached into the sky proclaiming wealth and power and hopefully indicating peace. There’s an oddball quietness there now, not the absence of noise, but the stillness of sounds that people make, like laughter and satisfaction. As they go by that once busy avenue that housed the magnificent businesses of the world, they avert their eyes, their voices become subdued but, if you listen real close, you can hear someone swear at the bastards who tried to murder a city. It’s an empty space now, but some day the snakes who live for destruction across the ocean in their own empty spaces of sand and caves would meet the snapping teeth of the avengers.

In italics, of course.

Speaking of Mickey and Mike, we have had a terrific review from Bookgasm about the forthcoming, very New York-centric Mike Hammer novel, KISS HER GOODBYE. The “her” of the title is New York City. Do check this one out (both the review and the novel).


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One Response to “Kill Him Goodbye”

  1. mike doran says:

    I was going to wait for your new post tomorrow, but the story I have to tell really ought not to wait.

    This past Saturday I took an hour’s worth of bus rides to get to Orland park, in order to check out the stores there (I hadn’t been back there in about two months).
    The area stores include a Barnes & Noble and a Borders right across LaGrange Road from each other. After I’d checked out B&N, I crossed LaGrange to Borders – and to my surprise, there was our mutual friend Bob Goldsborough, there to sell his new book.
    Bob was there to get the Borders managers to stock his Snap Malek books on their shelves. He was keeping diligent records of his traffic at his little table, and when I showed up, he recognized me from our previous meetings at signings (C&S, Printer’s Row Book Fairs, etc.), and we engaged in conversation. As it turned out, Bob wasn’t getting a lot of traffic at his table – he had competition from a very loud Children’s Reading hour – and he was obviously grateful for a familiar face, not to mention a customer.
    As I was checking out (the book’s barcode wasn’t yet in the store system, so it took a bit longer than usual), I asked Bob (facetiously, I thought) if he was going to be taking his next book door-to-door. Bob answered (facetiously, I hope) that he was thinking about it.
    I know that Echelon Press is a small outfit, but really – should a writer go hat-in-hand to each store and try to wangle shelf space like that?

    Oh, by the way, Max –
    I still can’t find your new books in any stores here in Chicagoland.
    They weren’t in Barnes & Noble, they weren’t in Borders … I’ve been coming up empty every time.
    I haven’t been to every store in town – yet – and I don’t want to risk the Internet except as an absolute last resort.

    Maybe, by the next time I see you and Barb, the situation will have changed for the better.
    *but I doubt it …*

    Come back to Chicago soon. Your friends miss you.
    (And by that I mean ME.)