Another uncompleted Mickey Spillane manuscript finished by Max Collins finds Mike Hammer walking along the Hudson River in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and discovering half a body, the upper torso, on an ice floe. It turns out the half a corpse was the trusted butler of a wealthy inventor who was the captain of Pat Chambers, Mike’s homicide detective buddy, when he first joined the police force. Pat suspects his friend’s death may have been a murder and “retains” Mike to investigate.
Mike travels to dead man’s Sullivan County estate where he meets the various members of the man’s dysfunctional family and employees. The daughter also retains Mike, who suspects not only that the father was murdered, but that the butler was as well. Each of the grown children, two older brothers, and their younger half siblings (the daughter and a brother) has a motive to murder the others. Under the terms of their father’s will, the inheritances don’t kick in until age 40 and in the event of a death, that portion reverts to the corpus, fattening the eventual amount for the survivors.
The novel is slightly different from the accustomed Spillane genre: it is more akin to a traditional detective mystery, albeit with Mike Hammer wisecracks, a smattering of sex and firearms. Not that there’s anything wrong with that approach. But somehow it left this reader with a desire for something more. In any event, it is a good read and can be recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2017.