Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’

Hear Me If You Can

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

The Skyboat audio version of Kill Me If You Can is available now, ahead of the September 20 release of the Titan hardcover edition. Stefan Rudnicki again narrates the novel as well as the five bonus Spillane/Collins short stories (two of which are Mike Hammer yarns) that are part of the 75th anniversary package.

I can’t say enough about the great job Stefan does. Having to fill the shoes of Stacy Keach is hardly an enviable job, but Stefan pulls it off. Skyboat has been a big supporter of my work, and recently signed to do new audio versions of Regeneration and Bombshell by Barb and me.

Kill Me If You Can audiobook cover
Digital Audiobook: Google Play Audiobook Store
Audiobook MP3 CD:
Audiobook CD:
* * *

Rehearsals are heating up for our local Muscatine, Iowa, presentation of Encore for Murder featuring Gary Sandy as Mike Hammer. (For those of you in the area, or considering a road trip, here’s the info.

We had a table read with Gary joining us by phone – a conference call set-up – and it went well. My co-director Karen Cooney has done a great job casting and getting the show on its feet. I’m getting more involved now, doing some fine-tuning, but this is a strong local cast and I’m very pleased. Karen and several others of us mounting the production were able to look at the auditorium and do some in depth planning – it’s a great venue, seating 600.

We start working with sound effects and music (the latter culled from Mickey’s 1954 record album, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Story) this coming week, with a second Gary Sandy table read on Thursday.

* * *

A number of things are coming out soon – the aforementioned Kill Me If You Can and, on Oct. 4, Antiques Liquidation, which just got a snark-free review from Kirkus. Check it out:

Antiques Liquidation cover
ANTIQUES LIQUIDATION
BY BARBARA ALLAN

The mother-daughter pair of Vivian and Brandy Borne may appear to be simple antiques dealers, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.

When Vivian wakes Brandy at 2 a.m. to get a jump on a warehouse full of things that are going to be auctioned off soon—thanks to some sensitive information Vivian has about Conrad Norris, the auctioneer—Brandy gathers up her dog, Sushi, and they all drive to the warehouse where Norris awaits. They leave with a barrel of pearl buttons that Sushi picks out, two valuable toy arks, and a set of dishes. When the auction itself takes place, Norris is drunk and many people are left unsatisfied. Vivian does buy something, though—she couldn’t resist attending the auction, even having picked off some items beforehand—and when she and Brandy return to the warehouse to pick it up, they find Norris dead. Naturally, Chief of Police Tony Cassato—Brandy’s fiance—is called in. Vivian fancies herself a sleuth, and she and Brandy have solved quite a few murders together—a fact that does not incline Tony to want their help. Vivian drags Brandy along on her investigations, knowing that Norris was far from beloved by many people. Someone steals the ark Brandy had given to her best friend’s daughter, but Brandy is hesitant to finger the two collectors she knows fought fiercely to buy the remaining arks at the auction. Vivian and Brandy may be amateur detectives, but they know a hawk from a handsaw and are determined to track down the killer, especially once a skeleton is found in their button barrel, opening up a long-dead case.

Amusing mystery chockablock with antiques lore.

We intend to have book giveaways on both Kill Me If You Can and Antiques Liquidation, so stay tuned.

Before too very long we should be seeing the publication of Fancy Anders for the Boys and Cut-out from Neo-Text. These will be available both as e-books and physical books. (Cut-out is a Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins collaboration.)

And the new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, will be out in hardcover from Hard Case Crime in early December.

I am about to begin the writing of Too Many Bullets, the RFK assassination Heller novel, after months of research. Those months will mean that the flow of books out of here will lessen next year, probably to just three. Some of this has to do with me deciding to slow down because I’m (damnit) 74. Some of it has to do with the amount a research that goes into any Heller novel, but this one has been unexpectedly onerous.

Like a lot of Americans, I assumed the Sirhan Sirhan assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was an open-and-shut case. I knew there were doubts and expected to explore them. But I did not (although I should have) expect the number of rabbit holes I’d be drawn down into.

After filling three notebooks, I have fashioned a rough synopsis, which I will be refining and expanding starting this afternoon. I hope to be writing this week.

As I’ve mentioned, I had intended this novel to cover Jimmy Hoffa material in a lengthy (middle section of the book) flashback. But as an echo of what happened to me writing True Detective in 1981 and ‘82, I found myself facing a book of potentially 1000 pages and had to retool.

(What happened with True Detective is that it turned into two books, the second one being True Crime, the first section of which was planned as the final section of True Detective.)

So Hoffa will probably become a separate book, out of chronology (although there hasn’t really been a linear chronology for Heller since after Neon Mirage).

I know some of you would prefer I write about Quarry or even Nolan (a few still request Mallory). I will indeed write about Quarry again, if I’m able, though I’ve stuck a fork in Nolan with Skim Deep. Of course, if the Lionsgate production of a Nolan film actually happens, I’ll be tempted to sell out. There’s always another story to tell if there’s money involved.

Mallory seems almost certainly a “no.” He was too on-the-nose “me.” I prefer the slightly off-kilter “me” of Heller and Quarry. And of course I’m occasionally called upon to channel Mike Hammer.

* * *

Speaking of Nate Heller, here’s an essay that includes the Heller saga as among the best novels that deserve to be made into TV shows.

Road to Perdition is recommended as one of the best movies to watch on Paramount+ right now.

An in-depth and very positive overview look at my series of Quarry novels – something that has rarely been done – can be found here.

M.A.C.

Encore for Hammer

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

The 75th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer is really kicking in. Introduced in 1947 in I, the Jury, the private eye changed the nature of tough heroes even as his creator changed the face of publishing.

Not surprisingly, I’m in thick of that celebration, with Kill Me If You Can coming out next month. The novel is based on an unproduced teleplay written by Mickey in 1954, and it’s the bridge between Kiss Me, Deadly (1952) and The Girl Hunters (1962). Velda – his secretary/partner and the love of his life – goes missing, possibly killed, and Hammer wants to know why.

The book includes five short stories completed by me from Spillane material, two of which are Hammer yarns with particular significance to the canon.

In 1952 Mickey sold the film rights to the existing Hammer novels to expatriate British producer Victor Saville. The ink was barely dry when they began to feud over Mickey’s desire for input, including casting. Saville manipulated and handled Mickey, making promises he had no intention of keeping, i.e., casting Mickey’s cop pal Jack Stang as Hammer (who wound up with a bit as a pool hall thug). For that reason Mickey came to dislike the films Saville made and, frankly, Hammer’s daddy wasn’t always fair to those films, criticizing them in public. Taking the brunt of that criticism has been the 1953 I, the Jury with Biff Elliot.

The film has also long been dismissed by some critics (including latterday noir buffs) but they – and Mickey – are wrong. It’s a wonderful though hardly perfect movie, suffering from censorship woes but still a fine translation of Spillane to the screen, really capturing the feel of the early novels. Very few films noir were shot in 3D and this one was the work of cinematographer John Alton, widely considered the finest noir director of photography of the classic period. And only a couple of noirs were made at all during that first 3D wave.

For years now, the only place you could see the 3D version of I, the Jury was at an occasional film festival (I saw it in London at the Spillane retrospective where we showed my documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, 1999). And the film is a wholly different experience in 3D.

Now ClassicFlix is bringing out an elaborate Blu-ray that includes a 3D disc (for those of you who have the capacity for 3D) but also a 4K disc and a Blu-ray. Seeing it in 4K is almost like seeing it in 3D. Here’s the terrific cover.

I The Jury 3D cover

I have recorded the commentary and also have contributed a new transfer of the rare 1954 Brian Keith Mike Hammer pilot written and directed by Blake Edwards. My pal Phil Dingeldein and I created a new wraparound for the pilot that puts it into historical context.

Additionally, Phil and I are working on an expanded version of my 1999 Spillane documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, bringing the story of Hammer and Spillane up to date. It will be a companion piece of sorts to the biography Jim Traylor and I have written (years in the making!), Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, which comes out in January from Mysterious Press, and includes a lot of rare pictures as well as personal memories of mine set off in Spillane-appropriate italics.

We already have a distributor interested in doing both a Blu-ray of the documentary and getting it out to the streaming services.

As I’ve mentioned here I am also co-directing (with local theater maven Karen Cooney) a one-night presentation of the radio-style play, Encore for Murder, starring Gary Sandy (of WKRP In Cincinnati fame) as Mike Hammer. The production, an otherwise amateur one but with a strong local cast, is a benefit for the Muscatine (Iowa) Art Center.

Gary and I presented Encore for Murder in Owensboro, Kentucky in 2010 as part of the International Mystery Writers Festival, and in 2018 in Clearwater, Florida, at Ruth Eckerd Hall Theatre. We may be doing a half-hour documentary about this latest production as part of (or perhaps a Blu-ray bonus feature for) the expanded Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane documentary.

Encore for Murder poster
* * *

Crusin’ played its final gig of its season at the Art Center’s annual Ice Cream Social. The crowd was large and appreciative on a lovely day. We were very lucky this year as all five of our gigs were outdoors and nary a raindrop in sight.

Crusin' at Muscatine Art Center Ice Cream Social 2022

The question is, was that the last Crusin’ gig ever?

It’s the old Godfather 3 thing – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” With one notable exception, these were all excellent gigs, very well-received, and the last several showed this version of the band at its best.

That notable exception was a private party that came up out of nowhere, which we took because nobody could think of a reason not to. I was of course unaware that I had gone back into Afib and was sick as a dog all night, wishing I were anywhere else. But playing in a band is always that way – you have a miserable experience, and want to bail from the whole damn thing; then you have a fun, great night and amnesia about the bad gig sets in.

I continue to have an ambition to do one last original material CD. We began working on one the year before the pandemic began and rehearsals shut down. And these last two summers we’ve just had enough on our plates to get prepped to make our limited schedule of appearances in the summer.

On top of that – after an unexpectedly rough week following the cardioversion procedure designed to get me out of Afib (the three previous times had taken only a day from which to recover) – I am now feeling fine. Like Nixon, tanned, rested and ready.

So I find myself considering an encore for Crusin’. It’s hard to let go of something you’ve done since (choke) 1965.

* * *

Here’s an interesting review of Batman – Second Chances, which collects much of my Batman work.

I haven’t seen it yet, but here’s a magazine you can pre-order with a new Collins/Beatty Ms. Tree interview.

I’m quoted in this terrific look by the great J. Kingston Pierce (of Rap Sheet fame) at half-hour detective TV shows of the 1950s.

Finally, here’s an interesting review of Quarry’s Blood by a reader familiar with the first few novels colliding with the much older Quarry of this one. I have a response in the comments.

M.A.C.

Sand Sale, Perdition, Hammer Theme, Spillane, Crusin’

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

There is another John Sand bargain this week – I believe it goes to the 15th of next month (July) – for the audio of To Live and Spy in Berlin. For only 99 cents! Brian J. Gill reads this (and the other two Sand novels) in a nice English accent that suits the material; really a great job.

To Live and Spy in Berlin Audiobook
* * *

Several friends and fans wrote me about a Daily Atlantic newsletter essay that selected Road to Perdition as an ideal Father’s Day movie. I liked the piece, even though it neglected to mention me, and was touched that the photo running with the article was from the sequence directly based on my first driving lesson with my late father. No bank robberies were involved in real life, however. I also like John Rooney being based on John Looney got a mention.

Here it is:

‘He Was My Father’

Sometimes at the Daily we step back at the end of the week’s blizzard of news and current events and suggest something for your leisure time. It’s Father’s Day weekend, and so I want to recommend to you one of my favorite movies, a meditation on generations and fatherhood and loyalty and duty, a warm, nostalgic look at families during a simpler time, starring two of America’s most beloved actors.

I am talking, of course, about Road to Perdition.

If you have not seen it, Road to Perdition (based on the graphic novel of the same name, and widely available to stream) is a 2002 film about Irish gangsters in the 1930s. But it’s really about fathers and sons. A mob leg-breaker named Mike Sullivan, played by a bulked-up Tom Hanks, is fiercely loyal to his boss, John Rooney (played, in his last role, against type and with regal Hibernian menace by Paul Newman); indeed, Sullivan and Rooney have a father-son relationship.

But Rooney already has a son, played by Daniel Craig, and that son is a murderous psychopath. (People wonder why I had a hard time accepting Craig as James Bond. It’s because I saw Road to Perdition first.) Without giving away too much, Sullivan and his own young son, Michael, have to go on the lam. It’s a father-son road-trip movie, except with tommy guns and stone killers.

You may find this an unusual recommendation. Bear with me.

When Father’s Day rolls around, I naturally think of my own father. I have never been able to relate to all those Hallmark-card, Ward Cleaver images. My dad was a complicated man, which is what sons say when we mean “He was terribly flawed in a lot of ways, but he loved me.” He bore a lot of sins and had a lot of shortcomings, but he had a consistent code of ethics in dealing with others and he was known for it. He kept his word, paid his debts, and treated others with respect. He was the kind of man who would walk into a local bar and his peers would call him Nick but younger men would unfailingly refer to him as “Mr. Nichols.” Even our younger neighbors called him “Mr. Nichols,” with great affection. (When he died, I sold his house to one of the children who’d grown up next door to him.)

I think most of us had fathers who weren’t perfect. Mine wasn’t, and yet he taught me important things: Do an honest day’s work. Love your country. Do things you have to do even if they’re unpleasant. Never back down if you know you’re right. Be courteous in public.

He also taught me how to gamble and showed me how to spot someone dealing off the bottom of a deck of cards.

He wasn’t the blueprint for a good husband or father, and he knew it. When I was in my 30s, he admitted to my mother that he thought I’d grown up to be a better man than he was. This is a hard thing to learn about your father, a source of both pride and sadness. (I will have more to say about fathers, and the men I knew growing up, over on my Peacefield newsletter this weekend.)

Which brings me back to Road to Perdition. When Sullivan has to go on the run with Michael (played by a young Tyler Hoechlin), the son finally learns what the father he idolizes actually does for a living. He also learns that Rooney—based on the real-life Irish godfather John Patrick Looney—is not a kindly grandfather but a cold-blooded killer. These men (and this is very much a man’s movie) are scoundrels, but they have a code, and their obedience to that code leads them to tragic choices.

The last line of the movie (again, without spoiling anything) is what ties it all to my memories of my own boyhood. Young Michael reminisces, and says: “When people ask me if Michael Sullivan was a good man, or if there was just no good in him at all, I always give the same answer. I just tell them: He was my father.”

That is the most honest thing most of us can say about our fathers. We love them, and they love us, and that’s enough.

* * *

My Brit pal Andrew Sumner, who edits my Mike Hammer novels at Titan (including the upcoming Kill Me If You Can), sent this great video.

He explains: “Due to my regular attendance at London’s finest jazz clubs, I’ve become friendly with a well-known UK swing/jazz R&B performer called Ray Gelato. Ray leads a band called Ray Gelato and the Giants and they essentially channel the energy of Louis Prima & Louis Jordan – they played Paul McCartney’s wedding, they’ve supported Queen, etc. They’re in a similar wheelhouse to Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.”

Andrew was nice enough to request that they play “Harlem Nocturne,” Mike Hammer’s theme in the Keach era, and dedicate it to me. Have a listen and look (or is that a butcher’s hook?).

* * *

If you’re a huge Spillane fan or huge Collins fan or just huge masochist, you may wish to watch this entire ninety-minute interview of me (on the subject of Mickey) by Dan Scheider (he’s very’s good) featuring the great Kevin Burton Smith of Thrilling Detective fame and accomplishment.

* * *

On another musical note (or two or three or four), my band Crusin’, 2018 inductees in the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, will be playing four dates in Eastern Iowa this summer and early fall.

First up, on Friday June 24 from 6 to 9 p.m., is the Ardon Creek Vineyard in the gently rolling farmland of “76 Township” in Eastern Iowa, approximately 30 minutes southeast of Iowa City, Iowa, 15 minutes southwest of Muscatine, Iowa and 5 miles north of Letts. Here’s the address: 2391 Independence Avenue, Letts, IA 52754. Their phone is (563) 272-0028 and more info’s available here, including a map.

On Saturday July 2 we’ll be at Proof Social in Muscatine, from 5 to 8 pm. We’ll be on the patio unless there’s rain, in which case we’ll be inside. This is a lovely venue, and the patio overlooks the Mississippi.

On Sunday August 14 we’ll again be appearing as part of the Second Sunday Concert Series at Musser Public Library, 408 E. 2nd Street in Muscatine, IA. Sometimes it’s held indoors and other times, weather allowing, with an outdoor stage in the parking lot. Hours are 6 to 8 p.m.

Finally, we’ll be appearing at the Muscatine Art Center’s yearly Ice Cream Social, which runs from 1 till 4 p.m. (Our times are 1:15 to 2:10 and 3 to 3:45.) 1314 Mulberry Ave, Muscatine.

Yes, our “season” is short, which is on purpose. Again I wonder if this will be the last year for Crusin’ appearances. And my memory fills with my departed bandmates, including the most recent and cutting loss, bass player Brian Van Winkle. I hope he’s somewhere arguing with Paul Thomas, Chuck Bunn, Bruce Peters, and Terry Beckey who among them gets to play bass if that Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven gig comes through. But knowing Brian, he’d just smile and wait his turn.


Crusin’ at the Moose in January 2022
* * *

Check out this wonderful Quarry’s Blood review at the web’s definitive genre book review site, Bookgasm.

Here’s a nice Goodreads review of the graphic novel, Road to Perdition.

And finally here is The Big Bundle at the Hard Case Crime web site.

M.A.C.

Sit Down and Read!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

STOP THE PRESSES: Supreme Justice and Midnight Haul are on sale for $1.99 each as Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Kindle book deals till the end of May. Amazon links: Supreme Justice | Midnight Haul

* * *
Stand Up And Die! cover
Trade Paperback:
E-Book:

Stand Up and Die!, the new Mickey Spillane collection from Wolfpack’s Rough Edges imprint, goes on sale next week (May 17) as both a Kindle e-book and a physical book. I edited it (and introduced it) and contributed a new version of my very first collaboration on a Mike Hammer story with Mickey, “Tonight I Die” (originally titled “The Night I Died” and published in the Spillane/Collins-edited anthology, The Private Eyes, 1998).

These novellas and short stories are culled from two long-out-of-print anthologies I edited, Tomorrow I Die (1986, Mysterious Press) and Together We Kill (2001, Five Star). This represents all of the crime stories from both volumes collected here in one place.

Here are the contents:

“Stand Up and Die!” (1958)
“Everybody’s Watching Me” (1953)
“Together We Kill” (1953)
“The Girl Behind the Hedge” (1953)
“The Pickpocket” (1954)
“I’ll Die Tomorrow” (1960)
“Tomorrow I Die” (1956)
“Hot Cat” (1964)
“The Gold Fever Tapes” (1973)
“Tonight I Die” (2022)

The final story is a Mike Hammer tale, and the reason why I’ve done a new version – not radically different, but enough so to rename it – is a story unto itself.

The basic story of “Tonight I Die” appeared in three versions in Mickey’s files – a radio play, a thirty-minute TV show, and a sixty-minute or more TV movie. There are significant differences between versions, and I did not become aware of all three until much later.

In 1998, when we edited the anthology Private Eyes for NAL, I felt it was key that we include a Hammer short story. But there weren’t any and getting Mickey to write a new one would have tough to impossible. He had already begun to share his unpublished materials with me, just for my interest (and perhaps he was already thinking of what I might do with his unfinished work some day), and I had run across the radio play version. It seems to have been written for the radio series That Hammer Guy, possibly as a pilot. It was not to my knowledge produced, though the series ran three years.

The script was heavy with narration and I asked Mickey if I could turn it into a short story, sticking to his script. He gave his blessing. The script was heavy with narration and the transfer was not difficult, though I felt some of it could have used some work, chiefly for clarity. But I did as little as I could in that regard, basically turning the script’s present tense script into past.

Now that I’ve done so many posthumous collaborations with Mickey – with his blessing – I felt this story should be properly prepared for publication…again, without taking too many liberties.

The things I did not include from the Tomorrow I Die and Together We Kill anthologies in this new one are interesting but not vital – like the science-fiction tale “The Veiled Woman,” ghosted by Howard Browne when Mickey missed deadline; a few memoirs for True magazine; a comic book “filler” story (now available in Vintage Spillane); and the script of a Mike Hammer screen test film starring Spillane’s policeman pal Jack Stang (a short story version appearing in the forthcoming Kill Me If You Can, this year’s Hammer 75th anniversary novel, which includes five bonus short stories). Also intentionally M.I.A. is Mickey’s good but non-crime tale, “Affair with the Dragon Lady.”

Stand Up and Die! is the definitive collection of Spillane crime/mystery short fiction, and its existence is due to not just my efforts but also Wolfpack’s Mike Bray, Paul Bishop and James Reasoner.

Mickey allowed a number of his crime novellas to be collected by NAL as paperbacks, mostly two-to-a-volume. This was part of his effort to raise last-minute funds for the troubled production of The Girl Hunters film. Possibly because that need for money was over, he did not bother to collect his other novellas and short stories similarly. Over the years I collected these in their original men’s adventure magazine appearances, sometimes off the newsstands, other times in used book stores. Convincing Mickey to let me collect some of them for the Mysterious Press anthology led to our first professional project together.

Not our last.

I can’t recommend a collection of tough fiction more highly than this one.

* * *

Here’s a good review of Quarry’s Blood by a reader who can’t seem to make up his mind whether he wants me to write more Quarry books or not.

This review of the film The Outfit, streaming now, says it’s a combination of Collins (me), Mamet (a writer whose work I don’t care for), and Sorkin (a writer whose work I do care for). So I went into watching it with one eye squinted. It’s an okay crime chamber piece, with a strong central performance by Mark Rylance. You may like it. I made it all the way through, Barb didn’t. Interestingly, Barb loves the film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (as do I), and the reviewer here in passing calls Tinker, Tailor “dreadfully boring.” Still, having my work referenced in a review like this was fun.

Some short, smart reviews here of three Quarry books and one Nolan. I’m blushing.

Road to Perdition is listed as one of the seven best movies debuting on Netflix in May 2022.

Here’s an interesting in-depth look at Wild Dog.

Finally, this brief, admiring look at the graphic novel and film of Road to Perdition.

M.A.C.