Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hammer’

Happy Anniversary – Everybody!

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021
Suspense His and Hers cover
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We hope to have advance copies of Suspense – His & Hers before too long. The pub date is September 8. Wolfpack has done another outstanding job on the cover of this collection, a companion piece to Murder – His & Hers, also published by Wolfpack (originally published by Five Star).

These two His & Hers collections are unusual in that they gather individual stories by Barb and me, as well as collaborative ones. I feel my best individual short story I’ve ever written is in Suspense (“Amazing Grace”) and a collaborative one that is primarily by Barb (“What’s the Matter With Harley Quinn?”) is a particularly strong example of her work. These are both recent stories and reflect how personal experience impacts our writing. Also included are two Quarry short stories and the Edgar-nominated Ms. Tree prose tale, “Louise,” by me. Several “best of the year” stories by Barb are included.

“Amazing Grace” was suggested by my great grandparents’ Golden party. It was particularly significant in real life, and I had told Barb about it several times (my great grandfather, with all the family gathered at a big anniversary party, announced she was divorcing my great grandfather, a sweet tippler who deserved the boot). When I got the assignment to write a story involving an anniversary for an MWA collection, Barb reminded me of this true event and I was off and running.

“What’s the Matter With Harley Quinn?” derives from Barb’s experiences at the most recent San Diego Comic Con we were able to attend when she spent two days trying to get collectible pins for our (very much grown) son Nathan, who did not attend the con that year. Not a comics fan herself, Barb was thrown into a rather wild and wooly lion’s den and, typically, she came out bloody but unbowed, and with a story in mind. If Alfred Hitchcock Presents will still on, her stories would be a staple there. Our friend the late Ed Gorman frequently compared her work to Roald Dahl’s.

Our Antiques Carry On is out right now, and I hope you’ll look for it. Frankly, we haven’t seen it (a hardcover) in a Barnes & Noble or BAM! yet, the only bookstores we’ve been to in post-Covid. The book is very handsome and (I say with zero modesty) funny as hell, as well as a good mystery, so your support is encouraged. We have a new publisher, the British house Severn, and they packaged the book very well indeed. But the future of Brandy and Vivian Bourne is in your hands.

Speaking of bookstores, a friend of the family sent in this lovely display from Powell’s Books in Portland:

Powell's Books M.A.C. display.

I have completed the 75th anniversary Mike Hammer novel, Kill Me If You Can, which will have five bonus Spillane/Collins short stories that include two Hammer tales. It’s going to be a special book, just one of a number of things I’m working on to make Mike Hammer’s anniversary (yes, this is an anniversary-themed update) special. The anniversary in question is the first appearance of the detective in I, the Jury (1947).

I should say first published appearance, because as those of you who have really been paying attention know…the first appearance of the character, as Mike Lancer, was in a Green Hornet comic book (#10, December 1942) and the character was first developed by Mickey as Mike Danger as a comic project that did not come to fruition, and in an unfinished novel that became the Spillane/Collins collaboration, Killing Town.

Kill Me If You Can is based on mid-‘50s material Mickey wrote with radio and later TV in mind, and gave me the opportunity to deal with the younger, psychotic Hammer in a more direct way than ever before. Basically it bridges Kiss Me, Deadly and The Girl Hunters (the film of which is on several streaming services right now, by the way).

Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander in The Last Lullaby

The Last Lullaby, based on the Quarry novel The Last Quarry with a screenplay co-written by me, is streaming in HD on Amazon Prime right now, included with your Prime membership (if you have one, of course). [And $2.99 to rent / $6.99 to buy if you don’t have Prime.–Nate] It’s a good film and is probably more in line with the novels than the Cinemax series was, though Quarry is called “Price” because I didn’t want to grant sequel rights.

M.A.C. holding a copy of To Live and Spy in Berlin at his desk

Finished copies of the trade paperback edition of To Live and Spy in Berlin by Matt Clemens and me were sent out to the winners of the most current book giveaway. It’s a thing of beauty, and that wonderful essay Jeff Pierce wrote about the series in January Magazine has sparked real interest.

And now the estimable Ron Fortier has written the following rave review, which I will (still immodest) share with you:

TO LIVE AND SPY IN BERLIN
By Max Allan Collins with Matthew V. Clemens
Wolfpack Publishing 221 pgs

With this third installment of the John Sand series, Collins and Clemens put forth a proposition many past mystery writers have tackled; can marriage still be romantic and sexy? Following the events that were detailed in “Come Spy With Me” and “Live Fast, Spy Hard,” former British Agent John Sand and his Texas Oil Heiress wife, Stacey, have together joined the new international spy organization called GUILE created by U.S. President John Kennedy and run by former British Spy Chief Sir Lord Malcolm Marbury; known affectionately as Double M.

As we rejoin the Sands, the major issue between them is whether or not Stacey becoming an operative was a good idea or not. A series of lethal encounters with a team of professional assassins has John rethinking his decision. At the same time certain intelligence comes to the surface that former Nazis who escaped capture at the end of World War II may be active in Berlin, after having disappeared for several decades in certain South American countries. Bomb making uranium has been stolen and the likelihood of these renegade Nazis creating their own atomic bomb is a threat that cannot be ignored.

As in the first two entries, Collins and Clemens cleverly work in actual historical settings throughout the thriller, weaving their fiction skillfully around real people and the volatile political atmosphere of the early 1960s. Yet despite this outer layer of narrative, it is the relationship between John and Stacey that is truly captivating. It was impossible not to recall other literary and cinematic spouses from the past. From Nick and Nora Charles, to televisions Hart to Hart and McMillan & Wife, married duos sharing outlandish adventures worked remarkably well in the past and they are very much the pedigree of this thrill-a-minute new series.

As always, Collins and Clemens offer up a whole lot more than any back cover blurb can properly define. This series is brilliant in all its many aspects. If you’re a spy junkie like us, its time you met the Sands.

Ron does entertaining and informative reviews regularly at his Pulp Fiction Reviews blog.

And if you’re not a regular reader of J. Kingston Pierce’s Rap Sheet, you should be. There’s a mention of my stuff in this incredibly packed installment of his informative Bullet Points.

M.A.C.

Sand, Free John Sand Book & More

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

The Book Giveaway for the third John Sand novel, To Live and Spy in Berlin, by Matthew V. Clemens and me and published by Wolfpack starts right now – ten physical copies are available to the first ten of you who ask for one.

[All copies have been claimed! Thank you for your support!]

In return you agree to write a review at Amazon and/or other review venues (Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, various blogs). Should you dislike the book, you are absolved from that duty if you wish.

I would love to run J. Kington Pierce’s wonderful piece on the John Sand books for January Magazine, but you will need to follow the link here.

But it’s so encouraging to see a really intelligent professional and highly respected reviewer understand what Matt and I are up to in the Sand books. Good reviews are great for marketing, but it’s really gratifying when a smart critic “gets it.” (He also writes about it briefly at the Rap Sheet.)

My pal and Titan editor Andrew Sumner did an interview with me for the at-home San Diego Comic Con. It runs an hour and he did his usual terrific job. We cover all the Titan stuff – the forthcoming Ms. Tree Volume 3: The Cold Dish, the current flurry of Nolan books from Hard Case Crime (including Double Down), and next year’s 75th anniversary Mike Hammer novel, Kill Me If You Can for Titan, which I’m writing now (and which is the reason so little content is available here this week beyond the giveaway and some news items). Generously Andrew asks me about non-Titan projects, including the Spillane bio I’m doing with Jim Traylor for Otto Penzler at Mysterious Press and, yes, the John Sand series (and more) at Wolfpack.

I’m also a guest at the home version of the Sentai con, where I discuss Lone Wolf and Cub and Asian action films in regard to Road to Perdition. Info here.

A couple other pieces of news/information.

First, the rights to the Nate Heller novel Better Dead have reverted to me and I hope to line up a new publisher because there’s never been a paperback edition. And for now the e-book is off the market.

Second, in a bizarre mistake, the paperback edition of the Caleb York western Hot Lead, Cold Justice was published with the art for the previously published Last Stage to Hell Junction. A new edition will be published soon by Kensington with the correct art (the same art as the hardcover edition of Hot Lead). I hope to be able to have a way for anyone with the a copy of the wrong cover to be sent a corrected version. More on this later.

Dead-End Jobs: A Hitman Anthology
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E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

Andy Rausch, editor of Dead-End Jobs: A Hitman Anthology (which features a Quarry short story), is interviewed by Michael Gonzales on the subject of fictional hitmen here.

Book Bub has a $1.99 e-book deal on the Mike Hammer novel Murder Never Knocks, which they describe as a page-turning noir thriller: Legendary PI Mike Hammer scours Hollywood’s dark underbelly for the person who tried to have him killed. “This novel supplies the goods: hard-boiled ambience, cynicism, witty banter, and plenty of tough-guy action” (Booklist).

Check out this excellent write-up on an unfortunately out of print collection of my early Dick Tracy work with Rick Fletcher.

Finally, this should lead you to an excellent documentary about Walter Tevis, who (like Richard Yates) was one of my instructors at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.

M.A.C.

Sand Number Three and Wild Dog Goes Number Two

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021
To Live and Spy in Berlin cover
Paperback: Indiebound Bookshop.org Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N) Powell's
E-Book: Amazon

The third in the John Sand Trilogy – To Live and Spy In Berlin – comes out tomorrow, Wednesday July 14.

Both my co-author Matthew Clemens and I consider this the best of the three, although we are proud of each one individually and more so collectively.

As Matt and I have often expressed, the John Sand novels reflect our love of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and the movies they spawned, particularly the first six (five of which starred Sean Connery). There’s been some confusion from people thinking we’re doing spoofs when homage is more like it. Possibly pastiche, although I think we go beyond that.

The books imagine John Sand as the “real-life” spy the world’s most famous fictional spy was based upon. Sand has a new wife, Stacey, and is working for a new international espionage organization. We put him – them – in an historical context, so a few famous faces turn up in each novel. And in the first three, John F. Kennedy has chosen Sand as his go-to spy.

We pulled this off in a short period of time, and while we hope to do more Sand novels, we admit to being bushed. We plot them together, share the research, stay in constant communication while Matt writes a rough draft, after which I write my draft, still staying in touch with my co-author. It is as genuine a collaboration as you are likely to find, rivaled only by Barb and me on the Antiques series.

I refer to this as the John Sand Trilogy because whether it goes beyond that number of entries is wholly in your hands – yours and whatever readers otherwise stumble onto what we think is a very entertaining series.

No book giveaway yet, but stayed tuned.

* * *

My panel on Ms. Tree, Mike Hammer and Nolan for the virtual San Diego Comic Con is at 12 PM to 1 PM on Friday, July 23. Info here.

* * *

Some of you may be aware of the fuss regarding Wild Dog that was splashed all over the Internet last week (and still going). This is how CBR.com related it, relying on Bleeding Cool:

Wild Dog co-creator Terry Beatty slammed DC Comics for its upcoming Suicide Squad: Get Joker series, which depicts Wild Dog as being one of the insurrectionist who took part in the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.

Bleeding Cool posted a number of panels from the upcoming Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev project, which shows the Suicide Squad paired with Red Hood to hunt down the Joker to finally make him pay for his crimes, and Wild Dog is available to be part of the Suicide Squad because he was in prison after being arrested during the Capitol Insurrection.

In the leaked panels, Wild Dog even brags about defecating on the desk of the Speaker of the House. He also says stuff like, “Garbage that’s been happenin’ in this country…it’s all fucking lawless…all the while we’re being regulated to think.”

Beatty, who co-created Wild Dog with writer Max Allan Collins, shared his displeasure with this new take on his creation on his Facebook page, “This is not the Wild Dog Max Allan Collins and I created. We are both angered and appalled at this offensive and out of character reworking of our hero. Yes, he was a vigilante. Yes, he was a gun nut.* But he wasn’t a conspiracy theory idiot or leader of a mob. This blatant disregard and disrespect for the creators’ intent is a slap in the face to both of us.”

Beatty referenced the CW version of Wild Dog, portrayed by Hispanic actor, Rick Gonzalez, as being a reason the artist thinks that this is a particularly bad idea, “It seems additionally insulting, considering the positive portrayal of Wild Dog as a POC on the CW ARROW TV series. To now make him the leader of a mob of racist, violent, moronic goons pretty much destroys any possibility of future use of him as an actual hero — vigilante or not.”

Wild Dog was introduced by Beatty and Collins in a miniseries for DC in 1987, as an urban vigilante who takes on the mob after his girlfriend is murdered. He later appeared in a series of stories by Collins and Beatty in Action Comics Weekly.

Beatty ended his missive by noting, “As the co-creator of Wild Dog, I need to say loud and clear, that what DC and Azzarello are currently presenting is not my Wild Dog, and neither Max nor I approve.”

Since then Terry has had more to say on his Facebook page (some of which has been quoted elsewhere). I was asked for my take on the matter by Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston.

Here’s what I wrote (with a title that was not used):

DOG POOP
Max Allan Collins

My first reaction at discovering Wild Dog had been recruited into the Suicide Squad as the leader of the Jan. 6 Insurrection as a defecating Proud Boy-style seditionist was bewildered shock. Basically, “Huh?”

That quickly grew to rage, expressed mostly as, “Fuck DC,” and “Fuck the writer.” I shared these sentiments with Wild Dog’s artist/co-creator, Terry Beatty, and he basically tried to calm me down. But, obviously, it gradually worked him into a rabid lather, too.

For me, it’s settled into disappointment and disgust. Wild Dog was conceived as a home-grown costumed hero. No cape, no cowl, just what could be put together out of such items as a hockey mask (with its Jason resonance) and body armor and real-world stuff from a hardware store and a home workshop. The usual “what if” all fiction writers operate from – “what if” somebody decided to actually be a costumed hero?

The results were not always beneficial. When Wild Dog found himself confronted by a would-be Bucky to his Captain America, despite our hero’s best efforts to discourage the Pup’s participation, the child is nearly killed. Terry and I pursued this with Ms. Tree – she was a vigilante, too, but wound up both in jail and in a mental institution. I might add in the Ms. Tree feature, Terry and I explored such then-current (and still current, unfortunately) topics as date rape, abortion clinic bombings, and gay bashing.

Some defenders of what we see as a perverted use of our creation dismiss it on the grounds that Wild Dog is a minor, forgotten character. Well, tell that to DC, who have used the character in at least three other comics, most recently as a cast member of the Cave Carson comic book, and to the CW network, where Wild Dog was a recurring character on Arrow.

Wild Dog debuted in a four-issue mini-series, had a regular slot in Action Weekly, and a “Special” double-length one-shot. In addition Terry is an Eisner-winning Batman artist, and we were Eisner nominees for our Ms. Tree work at DC. I wrote a year of Batman as well as two Batman graphic novels and was the initial writer of the Tim Burton-era Batman newspaper strip. My graphic novel (with Richard Piers Rayner), Road to Perdition, generated an Academy Award-winning film that is often cited as one of the best comic book movies ever made, and the graphic novel itself appears on many “Best of” lists. As recently as 2011 Terry and I did Return to Perdition for DC.

So what?

So Terry and I both have long relationships with DC and might have expected better where one of our creations is concerned. Yes, DC owns the rights to the character, but simple courtesy and common decency might suggest going down this path with Wild Dog was ill-advised – and that at least the creators should be warned. After all, invoking the Jan. 6 riot was bound to attract attention and controversy – shock value was the point, after all.

Of course we weren’t informed, just as we were not told about Wild Dog being used on the Arrow TV show. We weren’t paid for that (one of the few things our contract gave us) until that fact went public. I have worked with many terrific people at DC, but DC itself remains what it’s always been – a corporation built on the bones of two Cleveland teenagers.

As for Brian Azzarello, who I have never met, I have to wonder what kind of writer uses the creation of another writer in such a reckless, disrespectful manner. Azzarello is one of a generation of comics writers who owe a certain debt to our Ms. Tree, the first successful crime comic book in decades when it appeared in 1981. Still the longest running private eye comic book of all time (50 issues plus specials), it paved the way for everything that followed. We might have expected better thanks than this.

DC owning Wild Dog doesn’t stop it being characterized as my work – the fame of Road to Perdition guarantees I will be mentioned in the context of a character who is tied to a political movement I abhor.

But a modicum of consideration from the publisher, and some respect from the writer, is too much to expect from the company and talent who ignore Bill Finger’s Batman in favor of Batman fingering Catwoman.

Wild Dog
* * *

The Bleeding Cool story on Wild Dog, with more Terry Beatty responses and a lot of comments (where I weigh in here and there) can be seen here. Most of the comments are supportive; some are asinine.

Here is a wonderful Mike Hammer write-up with a focus on Complex 90.

Here’s a favorable if slightly patronizing Bookgasm review of the new Antiques Carry On.

Finally, Atomic Junkshop serves up a swell look at the Caleb York series with a great art and wonderful words.

M.A.C.

Wow! Another Book Giveaway! You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
Double Down cover
Trade Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo Books A Million iTunes

I hear from a lot of readers that they have trouble keeping up with my output. Well, sometimes I have trouble, too – Double Down, the second of the Nolan reprint series from Hard Case Crime (two novels to a book), came out June 8! So, better late than never, ten copies are available in exchange for the promise of a review at Amazon and/or other outlets, including blogs. As usual, if you hate the book you are absolved of your obligation.

Write me at macphilms@hotmail.com. USA only. You must include your full snail-mail address (including name with address to make it easy on me copying it) even if you’ve won books before in these giveaways.

Let’s discuss my rate of output. For one thing, Double Down is two books I wrote decades ago, so you can’t hold that against me. And I don’t mean to sound morbid here, but you may have noticed I’m not as young as I used to be, which means I have an increasingly finite amount of time ahead of me to get my stories told. Yes, this is about making a living, but right now it’s more about getting the work done. And when I’m dead, my output will significantly decrease, and you will have plenty of time to catch up.

To Live and Spy in Berlin by Matt Clemens and me – the third John Sand novel – will be out July 14, but you can order it now. We think the cover is splendid. Will there be more John Sand books? That’s up to you. We have left something of an incredible effing cliffhanger that needs resolving, so it’s on your conscience not ours if sales don’t justify that resolution.

It’s frustrating to hear how many people assume these novels are spoofs (without reading them, of course), though it may be our fault for the tongue-in-cheek titles (Come Spy With Me; Live Fast, Spy Hard). And I provided the tagline, “A Marriage License to Kill.” But we are in the very hardboiled tradition of the original Bond novels and the first four Sean Connery films. Matt and I feel the third John Sand is the best of the bunch.

I have just completed – sent the manuscript to Wolfpack editor Paul Bishop minutes before beginning this update – a novel called The Menace by Mickey Spillane and me. It’s a horror novel based on an unproduced Spillane screenplay. I am hopeful it will do well enough to justify a novel version of another unproduced screenplay of Mickey’s, The Green Woman. If that happens, it will mean all three unproduced screenplays in the Spillane files will have become novels (the first was The Saga of Cali York, which became The Legend of Caleb York).

To Live and Spy in Berlin cover
E-Book: Amazon

In the pleasant wake of being named a recipient of the Faust, the Grand Master award from the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers, I had an interesting revelation about writing novelizations of film scripts. I think I already knew this instinctively, but with The Menace I realized that my approach to turning the script into a novel was very much the same as a director turning a script into a film.

The Menace will likely not be out from Wolfpack till 2022, since I wrote it as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer’s first appearance in I, the Jury (1947). So I’ll be talking about it more, later.

The nice response the Nolan reprints have been getting brings to mind how Nolan – and frankly my professional life as a writer – began. Specifically, it was with the film Point Blank, based on Richard’s Stark’s novel The Hunter and directed by John Boorman. Stark, of course, was Donald E. Westlake, but it would be a while before I knew that.

This was 1967 and it seemed like one film after another was hitting me hard, and changing many ideas I had about storytelling. Looking back, I’d have to say ‘67 was the best year the movies ever had, or it sure seemed that way when every weekend one or more of the following might happen: The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, You Only Live Twice, The Producers, Bedazzled, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The President’s Analyst. Not to mention (well, hell, let’s mention them) The Dirty Dozen, Tati’s Playtime, In the Heat of the Night, Coolhand Luke, Billion Dollar Brain, Hour of the Gun and Elvis in Clambake. Well, maybe not Elvis in Clambake….

Point Blank, as a modern, hard-edged, nearly surrealistic crime film, hit me harder than any (with the possible exception of Bonnie and Clyde). Barb and I saw it at a drive-in. I was still living at my parents’ house and remember vividly going out after dropping Barb off her at her parent’s place and buying Point Blank at an all-night supermarket. I remembered having seen the book there, reprinted by Gold Medal (title-changing The Hunter to Point Blank) as part of a reprint program of the Richard Stark “Parker” novels with covers by Robert McGinnis.

I’d already been reading and loving the Ennis Willie “Sand” novels, which had a similar premise, and within days I had started writing Mourn the Living, the first Nolan novel (although his name initially was Cord).

What I got from the film Point Blank was the modern gloss that could be put on the tough guy novels born of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s that had so consumed me as a young reader. What I got from Richard Stark’s Point Blank (and the other Parker novels) was a third-person approach that taught me strict point of view and interesting ways to shift time.

Without that film (and the book the film led me to) I would not be the writer I am today. I was so entrenched in Spillane technique – which was tied to the 1950s – that it was vital that John Boorman and Richard Stark drag me into the present.

Which, of course, was 1967.

And what ultimately separated me from Richard Stark was my young age and the world I was living in – soon I would be married and going to the University of Iowa on the Iowa City campus, in a world of hippies and rock ‘n’ roll that entered a bemused Nolan’s world immediately, and made me not just a throwback but somebody writing about his new world in an old established way.

I am always fascinated and impressed and even a little overwhelmed by things like this. Like what? Like buying a paperback of Point Blank with a Robert McGinnis cover, and a couple years later creating Quarry, the child Richard Stark and Mickey Spillane bore that came from my loins (ouch!), a character who would appear in two centuries in books of mine with Robert McGinnis covers.

I am a lucky bastard.

Not rich, not quite famous, but damn lucky.

* * *

Speaking of Double Down and Nolan, here is a review/essay from Book Reporter that is so good I might written it myself…or maybe held a gun to the reviewer’s head as encouragement.

The terrific Borg site writes up the best books of the decade, and names Mike Hammer as Best Retro Novel Series (New/Ongoing). The brief write-up is glowing and wonderful.

Finally, here’s another short but fun reaction to Double Down and Nolan.

M.A.C.