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With an introduction by Max Allan Collins: The first collection of stories starring legendary Mike Hammer, the toughest private investigator in history It starts with a few near-accidents: A car almost swipes Mike Hammer when he’s crossing the street. A junkie robs the notoriously hardboiled detective at knifepoint. A fight on a subway platform comes close to pushing him in front of a train. While any one of these could be a coincidence, together they make a conspiracy—one that Hammer will have to end in order to survive. And when it comes to finishing something—or someone—nobody does it better than Hammer. One of the twentieth century’s bestselling American mystery authors, Mickey Spillane changed noir fiction forever when he loosed Mike Hammer on the world. Now these eight short stories, collected and finished by Max Allan Collins, show that Spillane is still capable of redefining the genre. The stories in A Long Time Dead have received numerous accolades, including an Edgar Award nomination, two International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers “Scribe” Awards, and a Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Mickey Spillane (1918–2006) was an American crime writer. Many of his novels featured the detective Mike Hammer. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Spillane sold his first story to a pulp magazine by the time he graduated from high school. He served as a fighter pilot in the army air corps in World War II, and published his first novel, I, the Jury, in 1947. With over two hundred twenty-five million copies of his books sold internationally, Spillane ranks as one of the world’s most popular mystery writers. Max Allan Collins is an award-winning writer of mysteries, comics, thrillers, screenplays, and historical fiction. His graphic novel Road to Perdition was the basis for the 2002 Academy Award–winning film by the same name. Collins cofounded the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers and studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He collaborated with Mickey Spillane on several projects and is completing a number of the Mike Hammer novels that Spillane left unfinished. Collins lives in Iowa with his wife, author Barbara Collins.
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A Long Time Dead
A Mike Hammer Casebook
By Mickey Spillane, Max Allan Collins
MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated MediaCopyright © 2016 Mickey Spillane Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
The Big Switch
They were going to kill Dopey Dilldocks at midnight the day after tomorrow.
He had shot and wiped out a local narcotics pusher because the guy had passed Dopey a packet of heroin that had been stepped on so many times, it wouldn't take the pain out of a pinprick. The pusher deserved it. Society said Dopey Dilldocks deserved it, too. The jury agreed and the judge laid on the death sentence. All the usual delays had been exhausted, and the law-and-order governor sure as hell wouldn't reprieve a lowlife druggie like Dopey, so the little schmoe's time to fly out of this earthly coop was now.
Nobody was ever going to notice his passing. He was just another jailhouse number — five feet seven inches tall with seven digits stamped on his shirt. On the records his name was Donald Dilbert, but along the path laid out by snorting lines of the happy white stuff, it had gotten shortened and twisted into Dopey Dilldocks.
A week ago his lawyer, a court-assigned one, had written me to say that Mister Dilbert had requested that I be a witness to his execution. And it seemed Dopey also wondered if I might stop in, ASAP, and have a final chat with him before the big switch got thrown.
In the inner office of my P.I. agency in downtown Manhattan, I handed the letter to Velda, my secretary and right-hand man, if a doll with all that raven hair and a mountain road's worth of curves could be so described. I was sitting there playing with the envelope absently while she read its contents. When she was done, she frowned and passed the sheet back to me. "Donald Dilbert ... You mean that funny little guy who —"
"The same," I said. "The one they called Mr. Nobody, and worse."
She frowned in mild confusion. "Mike — he was only a messenger boy. He didn't even work for anybody important, did he?"
"Probably the biggest was Billy Whistler, that photographer over on Sixth Avenue. Hell, I got Dopey that job because the little guy didn't mind running errands at night."
"You know what he did over there?"
"Sure. Took proofs of the late-night photo shoots over to the magazine office."
Velda gave me an inquisitive glance.
I shook my head. "No dirty Gertie stuff — Whistler deals with advertising agencies handling big-ticket household items — freezers, stoves, air conditioners, that sort of thing. Not Paparazzi crap."
"Big agencies — so little Dopey was getting large pay?"
"Hardly. You said it yourself. He's been around for decades and started a messenger boy and that's how he wound up."
She arched an eyebrow. "Not really, Mike."
"He wound up a killer. He'll wind up sitting down at midnight."
"Yeah," I nodded. "And not getting up."
She was frowning again. "Messenger boy isn't exactly big bucks, Mike. How could he afford a narcotics habit?"
"They say if you're hooked," I said, "you'll find a way."
"Maybe by dealing yourself?"
"Naw. Dopey doesn't have the brains for it."
"What kind of pusher would give a guy like that credit?"
"Nobody I know," I admitted. "Something stinks about this."
"Coming off in waves. You going to the execution? You thinking of paying him a visit first?" Her voice had a strange tone to it.
My eyes drifted up from the envelope I was fidgeting with and met hers. We both stared and neither of us blinked. I started to say something and stopped. I reached out and took the letter from her fingertips and it read it again.
Very simple legalese. The lawyer was simply passing along a request. It was only a job to him. The state would reimburse him for his professional time, which couldn't have been very much.
Before I could say anything, Velda told me, "You haven't done a freebie in a long time."
"You could make it a tax deduction, Mike."
"Going to an execution?"
"Giving this thing a quick look. Just a couple of days to you, but to Dopey Dilldocks, it's the rest of his life."
I shook my head. "I don't need a deduction. What's gotten into you? The poor slob has been through a trial, he was declared guilty of first-degree murder and now he's paying the penalty."
Very quietly Velda asked, "How do you know it really was first-degree?"
I shook my head again, this time in exasperation. "There was a squib in the paper."
"No," she said insistently. "Dopey didn't even rate a 'squib.' There was an article on narcotics and what strata of society uses them. It gave a range from high-priced movie stars to little nothings like Donald Dilbert, who'd just been found guilty in his murder trial."
"Wasn't a big article," I said lamely.
"No. And Dopey was just a footnote. Still ... you recognized his name, didn't you?"
"And what did you think?"
"That Dopey had finally come up in the world."
"Baloney. You were thinking, how the hell could Dopey Dilldocks plan and execute a first-degree murder — weren't you?"
She had me and she knew it. For the few times I had used the schlub to run messages, I had gotten to know him just enough to recognize his limitations. He knew the red light that meant stop was on the top and he wouldn't cross the street until the bottom one turned green, and that type of mentality didn't lay out a first-degree kill.
"So?" she asked.
The semblance of a grin was starting to twitch at her lips and she took a deep breath. The way she was built, deep breathing should have had a law against it.
I said, "Just tell me something, doll. You barely know Dopey. You haven't got the first idea of what this is all about. How come you're on his side suddenly?"
"Because I'd give him a couple of bucks to buy me a sandwich for lunch and he'd always bring the change back in the bag. He never stole a cent from me."
"What a recommendation," I said sourly.
"The best," she came back at me. "Besides, we need to get out of this office for a while. It's a beautiful Spring day, the bills are paid, there's money in the bank, nothing's on the platter at the moment and —"
"And we might pass one of those 'Medical Examination, Wedding Ceremony, One Day' places, right?"
"Could be," she said. "Anyway, we could use a day trip."
"A day trip where?"
"Someplace quiet upstate."
"A little hotel on the river, you mean?"
A looker like Velda could have caused a riot in places that didn't consist of concrete and cells, and anyway the court-appointed lawyer could only arrange for one visitor. So she sat in the car in a lot outside the massive stone facility, while I sat in a gray-brick room in one of several cubicles with phones and wire-reinforced glass.
Dopey was a forty-something character who might have been sixty. He had a gray pallor that had been his before he entered the big house, and his runny nose and rheumy eyes spoke of the weed and coke he'd consumed for decades. Smack was never his scene, as his fairly plump frame indicated. His hair, once blond and thick, was white and wispy now, and his face was a chinless, puffy thing.
"I think they musta framed me, Mike," he said. He had a mid-range voice with a hurt tone like a teenage boy who just got the car keys taken away.
My hat was on the little counter. I spoke into the phone, looking at his pitiful puss. "And you want me to pry it off of you, Dopey? You might have given me more notice."
"I know. I know." Phone to his ear, shaking his head, he had the demeanor of a guy in a confessional. Too bad I wasn't in the sin-forgiving game.
"So why now, Dopey?"
"I just been thinking, Mike. I been going back through my whole life. They say it flashes through your brain, right before you die? But I been going through my life, one crummy photo at a time."
I sat forward. "Is that a figure of speech, Dopey? Or are you getting at something?"
Dopey swallowed thickly. "I never gave nobody no trouble, Mike. I never did crime, not even for my habit. I worked hard. Double shifts. Never made no enemies. I'm a nobody like they used to call me, just a damn inanity."
He meant nonentity, but I let it go.
"So you been thinking," I said. "What have you been thinking?"
"I think it all goes back to me sending that photo to LaSalle."
"LaSalle? You don't mean Governor LaSalle?"
The chinless head bobbed. "About six months ago, I ran across this undeveloped roll of film. It was in a yellow envelope marked Phi U 'April Fool's Party.'"
Where the hell was this going?
"I remembered that night. Up at Solby College? It was wild. Lots of kids partying — girls with their tops off. Crazy."
"When was this?"
"Twenty years ago — April first, like I said. I was taking pictures all over the frat house. They was staging stuff — lots of fake murders and suicides and crazy stuff right out of a horror movie."
"And you got shots of some of that?"
Dopey's head bobbed again. "I was going around campus taking oddball pictures. I even got some 'peeper' type shots through a sorority house window, where this girl was undressing — then this guy pretends to strangle her. It was very real looking. Frankly, it scared me silly, it was so real looking."
"Is that why you didn't develop the film?"
"No, the frat guys never paid me, so I said screw it. But when I ran across that roll of film, I don't know why, I just remembered how pretty that girl was — the one that played at getting strangled? She had her top off and ... well, I can develop my own pics, you know."
"And you did?"
"I did, Mike. And the guy doing the pretend strangling? He looked just like a young version of Governor LaSalle! So I sent it to him."
I thought my eyes would pop out of my skull. "You what?"
"Just as a joke. I thought he might get a kick out of it, the resemblance."
I squinted at the goofy little guy. "Be straight with me, Dopey — you didn't try to blackmail him with that, did you?"
"No! I didn't think it was really him — just looked like him."
My stomach was tight. "What if it really was him, Dopey? And what if that wasn't an April Fool's stunt you snapped?"
Dopey swallowed again and nodded. "That was what started me thinking, Mike. That's why I hoped you might come see me."
"You told your lawyer about this?"
"No! How do I know I could trust him? He works for the state, too, don't he?"
But he trusted me. This pathetic little doper trusted me to get him out of a jam only an idiot could get into.
Well, maybe I was an idiot, too. Because I told him I'd look into it, and to keep his trap shut till he heard from me next.
"When will that be, Mike?"
"It won't be next week," I said, and got my hat and went.
Our jaunt upstate didn't last long. I called Captain Pat Chambers of Homicide from the road and he was waiting at our favorite little deli restaurant, down the block from the Hackard Building. Pat was in a back booth working on a soft drink and some fries. We slid in opposite him.
The NYPD's most decorated officer wore a lightweight gray suit that went with the gray eyes that had seen way too much — probably too much of me, if you asked him.
"Okay," he said, with no hellos, just a nod to Velda, "what are you getting me into now?"
"Nothing. You found something?"
Those weary eyes slitted, and this time his nod was for me. "Twenty years ago, April second, a coed from Solby College was found strangled, dumped on a country road."
"And nobody got tagged for it?"
"No. There were some stranglings on college campuses back then — mostly in the Midwest — and this one got lumped in as one of the likely unsolved murders that went along with the rest."
"Didn't they catch that guy?"
"Yeah. He rode Old Sparky in Nebraska. But the Solby College murder, he never copped to."
"Is it?" Pat sat forward. "Mike, do I have to tell you there's no statute of limitations on murder? That no murder case is truly ever closed till somebody falls? If you have something ..."
"I do have something."
The gray eyes closed. He loved me like a brother, but he could hate me the same way. "Mike ... do I have to give you the speech again?"
"No. I got it memorized. Tell me about Governor LaSalle."
The eyes snapped open. Pat looked at Velda for help and didn't get any. "You start with a twenty year-old murder, chum, and then you ask about ... What do you mean, tell me about Governor LaSalle?"
"He got elected as a law-and-order guy. How's he doing?"
Pat waved that off. "I stay out of politics."
"Which is why you been on the force since Jesus was a baby and still aren't an inspector. What's the skinny on the Gov?"
His voice grew hushed. "You've heard the stories."
"I can't say anything more."
"Then you can't confirm that an Internal Affairs investigation into the Governor's relationship with a high-end prostitution ring got shut down because of political pressure?"
"Can you deny it?"
"What can you tell me, buddy?"
He stared at the soft drink like he was trying to will it into a beer. Then, very quietly, he said, "The word is, our esteemed governor is a sex addict. He uses State Patrol Officers as pimps. It's a lousy stinking disgrace, Mike, but it's not my bailiwick. Or yours."
"What about the rumors that he has a little sex shack upstate? A little cabin in the mountains where he meets with female constituents?"
Pat's grin was pretty sick. "That's impossible, Mike. Our governor's a happily married man."
Then Pat stopped a waitress and asked for a napkin. She gave him one, and Pat scribbled something on it, something fairly detailed. Then he folded the napkin, gave it to me, and slipped out of the booth.
"Get the check, Mike," he said, and was gone.
Velda frowned over at me curiously. "What is it?"
This time I took the drive upstate alone, much to Velda's displeasure. But she knew not to argue, when I said I had something to do that I didn't want her part of.
The shade-topped drive dead-ended at a gate, but I pulled over into the woods half a mile before I got there. I was in a black t-shirt and black jeans with the .45 on my hip, not in its usual shoulder sling. The night was cool, the moon was full and high, and ivory touched the leaves with a picture-book beauty. An idyllic Spring night, if you weren't sitting on Death Row waiting for your last tomorrow.
It was a cabin, all right, logs and all, but probably bigger than what Old Abe grew up in — a single floor with maybe four or five rooms. Out front a lanky state trooper was having a smoke. Maybe I was reading in, but he seemed disgusted, whether with himself or his lot in life, who knows?
I spent half an hour making sure that trooper was alone. It seemed possible another trooper or two might be walking the perimeter, but security was limited to that one bored trooper. And that cruiser of his was the only vehicle. I had expected the Governor to have his own wheels, but I'd been wrong.
Positioned behind a nice big rock with trees at my back, I watched for maybe fifteen minutes — close enough that no binoculars were needed — before the Governor himself, in a purple smoking jacket and silk pajamas right out of Hefner's closet, exited with a petite young woman on his arm. He was tall and white-haired and handsome in a country club way. She was blonde and very curvy, in a blue halter top and matching hot pants. If she was eighteen, I was thirty.
At first I thought she had on a lot of garish make-up, then I got a better look and realized she had a bloody mouth and one of her eyes was puffy and black.
The bastard had been beating her!
She was carrying not a purse but a wallet — clutched in one hand like the lifeline it was, a pro doing business with rough trade like the Gov — and her gracious host gave her a little peck on the cheek. Then he took her by the arm and passed her to the trooper like a beer they were sharing.
I could hear most of what LaSalle said to his trooper/pimp. "Take Miss So-and-So home, and come pick me up. I want to be back to the mansion by midnight."
The trooper nodded dutifully, opened the rear of the cruiser like the prostie was a suspect not a colleague, and then they were off in a crunch of gravel and puff of dust.
There was a back door and opening it with burglar picks took all of twenty seconds. The Gov wasn't much on security. I came in through a small kitchen, where you could hear a shower on in a nearby bathroom.
That gave me the luxury of getting the lay of the land, but there wasn't much to see. The front room had a fireplace with a mounted fish over it and a couch and an area to watch TV and a little dining area. I spent most of my time poking around in his office, which had a desk and a few file cabinets, and a comfortable wood-and-cushions chair off by a window. That's where I was sitting, .45 in hand, when he came in only in his boxer shorts, toweling his white hair.
He looked pudgy and vaguely dissipated, and he didn't see me at first.
In fact, I had to chime in with, "Good evening, Governor. Got a moment for a taxpayer?"
He dropped the towel like it had turned to flame. He wheeled toward me, his ice-blue eyes wide, though his brow was furrowed.
"What the hell ... who the hell ...?"
"I'm Mike Hammer," I said. "Maybe you heard of me."
Now he recognized me.
"Good God, man," he said. "What are you doing here?"
Excerpted from A Long Time Dead by Mickey Spillane, Max Allan Collins. Copyright © 2016 Mickey Spillane Publications, LLC. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: The Long and Short of It,
The Big Switch,
A Long Time Dead,
So Long, Chief,
A Dangerous Cat,
It's in the Book,
About the Authors,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley and Max Allen Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your work with me! And this was a nice trip back into the world of Mike Hammer, a place I shared with my Dad many years ago. I loved the idea of short stories - Mickey Spillane didn't share them with us back in the day - and the crispness that is his style was waiting there, in these tales. I loved every one of them. I had forgotten how often the kill shot was Hammer's solution to the problem, but it was a good place to visit. Daddy too would have enjoyed these short tales of woe.