This isn’t your father’s Mike Hammer. More like your grandfather’s. Though he’s now a self-admitted “member of AARP,” Hammer remains as tough as a boiled owl as he sleuths a series of murders involving the femur of the original giant Goliath, a collectible more valuable than even the Maltese Falcon and considerably more political, thanks to its significance to factions in the Middle East. As Mike hammers terrorists, extremists and slinky seductresses, almost every sentence refers to his senior citizenship, but this audio renders such reminders unnecessary. Stacy Keach, arguably the private eye’s best interpreter, has been aging along with him. His well-trained voice carries the perfect combination of unwithered age, strength and determination. According to Collins’s afterword, though three more incomplete manuscripts exist, the late Spillane had planned Goliath to be his hero’s chronological farewell. And a fine send-off it is, reflecting back to the very first, I, the Jury, with Keach adding a poignancy that even a tough guy like Spillane would have appreciated. A Harcourt/Penzler hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 25). (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Goliath Boneby Mickey Spillane, Max Allan Collins
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In the midst of a Manhattan snowstorm, Hammer halts the violent robbery of a pair of college sweethearts who have stumbled onto a remarkable archaeological find in the Valley of Elah: the perfectly preserved femur of what may have been the biblical giant Goliath. Hammer postpones his marriage to his faithful girl Friday, Velda, to fight a foe deadlier than the mobsters and KGB agents of his past -- Islamic terrorists and Israeli extremists bent upon recovering the relic for their own agendas.
A week before his death, Mickey Spillane entrusted his nearly finished manuscript and extensive notes to his frequent collaborator, Max Allan Collins, to complete.The result is a thriller as classic as Spillane's own I, the Jury and as compelling as Collins's Road to Perdition.
During a Manhattan snowstorm, Spillane's legendary Mike Hammer (I, the Jury) saves two Columbia University archaeology students from a violent mugging. It turns out the couple had uncovered what might be the greatest find since King Tut's tomb, the leg bone of Goliath, the biblical giant. Spillane, who died in 2006, entrusted his incomplete manuscript to longtime friend Collins, who completed the work, which serves as a refreshing reminder of a writer who illustrates old-fashioned pride in his priceless body of work.
Jo Ann Vicarel
Read an Excerpt
The snow had stopped. Barely an inch of it had come down to cover the icy sheet that made New York City shine with strange new prisms of light. The temperature was twelve degrees below freezing, and it wasn’t going to get any warmer. Traffic barely moved, and a lot of it was pinched against curbs where they had slid earlier. Nobody bothered to stay with their vehicles. Sitting shut up with an engine going was inviting trouble, and with all the lights on outside the bars in the adjoining blocks, it was a night to play until it thawed or somebody came and got you.
I had enough of being parked on a bar stool, brushing off the half-drunks and the chippies who were making the most of a bad night on the street. I paid my tab, nodded good night to the bartender, left a full Scotch and soda for the doll baby who was trying to give me a rush job, and went outside.
Damn, it was cold.
I buttoned up the old pile-lined trench coat and snugged the belt around my waist, glad I wasn’t on a job where I’d need the .45. This time it was in a belt holster on my right hip, accessible through my pocket. Nothing was happening, but the precaution of keeping my hands stuffed in my coat wouldn’t be a noticeable gesture. Everybody else had their hands in their pockets, too.
Across the street a battered sedan was parked, a gypsy cab, the hood and top under a layer of snow. The front wheels were angled out and the distance from the car in front of it was enough to make sure it wasn’t trapped. The windshield wipers had kept the snow off.
Briefly, there was a dark blur of a face in a rear windowup front, the driver, a guy in a stocking cap, was bored and slumped behind his wheel; but behind him, the blurred face slowly scanned the sidewalks before sinking back into the darkness.
Whoever this passenger was, he’d been sitting there for over an hour freezing his ass off, waiting for something to happen. And paying a cabbie for the privilege.
I had seen too many nights like this on streets like these. There is an atmosphere that goes along with it, like smelling smoke from a fire a long way off. There was nothing you could put your finger on, but the years of living under the shadow of violence gave me an alertness I never tried to shrug off.
Something was going to happen.
Two drunks came out of a bar trying to sing. One got as far as the curb and threw up. The sight and smell of it caused the other one to make it an upchuck duet. Then they both argued about which way to go, decided to head toward the dull glow of Sixth Avenue, and lurched off.
A fat guy carrying a couple of packages came by, and when he waddled past, I stepped out, went about ten feet, and stepped into a doorway beside an abandoned old store.
Nothing was happening. But it was getting ready to. I could feel it. Pat Chambers of Homicide always told me that’s what cops felt. Old cops. Real street cops. He always said I should have stayed one instead of taking the money road of being licensed to play the cop game for big and private bucks. Guys like me weren’t supposed to have those weird feelings, like having little people crawling up along your spine and making funny noises in your ears.
Something was happening, all right. It was under way. I was buried in the shadows and had pulled the glove off my right hand. My fingers crept to the liner opening in the pocket where they could slide around the butt of the cold 1911 model .45 caliber Army Colt Automatic that had six in the clip and one in the chamber.
All I had to do was clear the fabric of my trench coat and thumb the hammer back.
Across the street, a dingy late-night diner disgorged a pair of mildly gassed-up college kids who took a long time figuring out where they were. Taxis weren’t showing, so the Broadway glow waved them to head that way and they shuffled off, kicking up the snow ahead of their feet.
I took my thumb off the hammer of the Colt.
Thirty feet down toward the bright lights, a door opened, and the glow of a Chinese restaurant spilled out onto the sidewalk, making a rainbow of colors from the red and green lanterns inside. The noise was muffled, but it had to be a popular place, happy with laughing sounds and even the faint rattle of dishes.
The pair that stepped out were also of college age, well dressed and sober. The girl had her blonde hair mostly stuffed under a stocking cap and wore a fur-trimmed suede coat; the boy had on a Western-style sheepskin coat and no hat at all. The boy was carrying a tubular brown-paperwrapped package that was three feet long or more and a good six inches thick. His hand held it at the bottom and the other one clasped it firmly to his chest. A musical instrument, maybe? If so, a precious one to this kid.
I didn’t know what, but something was going to happen. The needles along my spine were beginning to probe into my skin.
I heard the car door open and saw, from the rear of the gypsy cab, a bronze-faced figure emerge in hooded navy sweats, loping across the street and falling in behind the two kids, whose backs were to him. The couple disappeared down the stairs of a subway station. The hooded figure, lagging perhaps a dozen feet behind, followed them.
I moved fast but I didn’t runI might have slipped and broken my tailbone, and maybe, just maybe, I was wrong. Maybe there was a good reason for some asshole to sit in a gypsy cab for God knew how long waiting till a couple kids left a bar with a bulky wrapped package and headed for the nearest subway station. . . .
The stairs were empty by the time I got there, but as I headed down, hand on the .45, I knew damned well I hadn’t been wrong. I couldn’t just feel it, I could hear it. . . .
Panic has its own sound. It hisses with a terrified breath full of wild fear. It stumbles and makes strange animal noises of knowing something deadly is right behind you.
But this panic came toward me, its panting a harsh rasp, tripping on the steel steps, creatures fleeing from a dark nightmare. Here I was trying to catch up with them when the two kids were suddenly scrambling back up at me, eyes wide but not seeing me, running jerkily my way, only their eyes directed past me toward the freedom above, on the streets of New York. So close. So close . . .
The oval-faced, blue-eyed young man was half-dragging the terrified dark-eyed little looker behind him, his arm bent, holding her by her wrist, clutching his bulky package with his other arm. Then the girl slipped, nearly pulling the guy down with her, and he almost dropped the package, trying to hang on to her. It was only a momentary pause before he got her to her feet, and for an instant I saw the contorted, frenzied expression as she turned her head for a terrified look over her shoulder.
Their pursuer was right behind them, running silently on rubber-soled shoes, the gun in his hand ready to pump slugs into the backs of the kids and in two more seconds, it would be done.
I grinned because I already had the .45 out and in my fist, the hammer thumbed back, and nothing bothered me because this was no cop after a couple of young offenders, not with that silencer on the snout of his piece, and when he paused for that fraction of a second to aim, my .45 slug tore the rod right out of his hand and in that fleeting moment, dread bit into him like a lightning flash that contorted his face, and he spun to get away from this sudden nightmare.
But his feet didn’t hold him.
He tripped, made a waltzy spin and his echoing yell was stifled when his head smashed against the metal-tipped stairs and his body made squashy sounds in its mad tumble, the head pounding out drum notes until it split, and all was quiet. Then he was too far away and I could barely hear the blood dripping.
Down below, the heavy thunder of a train going by on the express tracks tolled a death knell like the kettledrums in a Wagnerian opera.
So far, nobody else had come up the stairs.
On the landing just behind me, the two kids were waiting, not knowing which way to go. I put the .45 back in the leather and held up a hand, indicating they should stay put. They exchanged glances that said neither saw any better option.
Then I took out my cell phone and called Pat Chambers’s number at home.
The captain of Homicide took it on the third ring; not bad for a guy nearing retirement. "Mike! Do you know what time"
"Since when do I call this time of night to shoot the shit?"
A long sigh. "Since never."
I told him to get a squad car to the subway station immediately. No details. Just do it. I broke the connection and turned to the kids. They were huddled together, shivering, the boy managing to cradle both the girl and the bulky butcher-paperwrapped item.
Down below, a BMT local rumbled into the station and rumbled out again. Nobody came up the staircase. It was a lousy night to travel.
The young couple looked like cross-country runners at the end of the race. Their white pluming breath was uneven, their faces wet with sweat despite the cold, their eyes a silent signal that panic lay right behind them. A killer had stalked them and had almost ended the chase. Now they were looking at me like maybe I was another killer, and they weren’t wrong.
Copyright © 2008 by Mickey Spillane Publishing LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
Meet the Author
MICKEY SPILLANE (1918–2006) sold hundreds of millions of books. He introduced iconic detective Mike Hammer to readers in 1947 with I, the Jury, and was named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master in 1995.
MAX ALLAN COLLINS is the author of many works, including the best-selling graphic novel Road to Perdition and the Shamus-winning Nathan Heller novels.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is the Mickey Spillane thru and thru. I just hope there is more of his work found and Mr. Collins keeps up the great work..From I The Jury to the latest book published they never miss a beat it is almost like Mickey is still here. Even now I pick my old Mike Hammer novels and books and reread them and they are still a good read. For anybody who has never read a Mike Hammer novel borrow or buy one it's worth the money.
You would have expected the father of America¿s toughest private-eye to go out with a bang! And he does, in this, one of the two remaining Mike Hammer books Mickey Spillane was writing at the time of his death. Thankfully his close friend, and literary protégé, Max Allan Collins was on board to complete the both books. It¿s a loud bang of action, humor and a long fulfilled romance that had me hooked from page one. Nobody wrote tough-guy pulp like Spillane. It was a talent that never left him over his sixty year career as a crime writer. Mike Hammer is out and about on a cold New York City winter night when trouble comes calling in the form of two young people hurrying down the street unaware they¿ve picked up a menacing shadow. Never one to mind his own business, Hammer takes off after them and their mysterious pursuer and arrives in the nick of time to save them from being gunned down. Hammer never goes anywhere without his trusty Colt .45 automatic. With a dead man at his feet, and two frightened innocents, Hammer whisks them off to the security of his office and thus the tale begins. The would-be victims are college sweethearts recently returned from a trip to Israel. After camping in the Valley of Elah, the two accidentally uncover a human femur bone the size of a railroad tie. They believe it to be the only remains of the biblical Philistine giant, Goliath. The couple, Mark and Jenna, smuggle the bone out of the country by mailing it to a friend back home. Once back in New York, they retrieve it and are on their way to the university to deliver it to their respective parents who are both archeologists. Thus ends their tale at the point of being attacked by the unknown assassin and Hammer¿s timely appearance. Hammer immediately realizes the political implications of their discovery and the dangers they entail, to include the botched murder attempt. Leave it to Spillane to deliver a topical thriller, post 9-11, with Hammer ready to take on Islamic terrorists all by his lonesome. The plot moves at a fast clip and before long Hammer is embroiled with foreign dignitaries, government agents and criminal arms dealers, all the while having to protect the two young lovers. Thus the subplot of his long overdue marriage to Velda, his gorgeous, loyal secretary is truly poignant. Ever the skilled story-telling magician, Spillane pulls a few aces out his sleeve, including the reason why it has taken Hammer so long to make an honest woman of her. Their marriage and honeymoon adds a fitting chapter to Hammer¿s last case. The feelings of these two characters, their enduring love and its joyful resolution reminded me of what William Faulkner called ¿¿the truths of the heart.¿ But worry not, pulp fans. Before the two can sail off into the sunset, there is still the matter of a ruthless killer who has left a trail of bodies for Hammer to follow like a grisly invitation to a climatic showdown. Mike Hammer never walked away from a case until justice had been meted out the kind dispensed from the barrel of his .45. THE GOLIATH BONE is no exception. This is one hell of a ride you do not want to miss!
Good book if you have followed the Mike Hammer books from the beginning ie: "I the Jury".