Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins,
The Consummata
(Hard Case Crime, 2011)

Back in the 1960s, Mickey Spillane -- the man who created pulp private eye Mike Hammer -- began a new series featuring a big-time criminal known as Morgan the Raider. The Delta Factor, which introduced Morgan, was a major bestseller, and Spillane began a sequel that he never finished. Fed up with frustrations over the film version of The Delta Factor, he abandoned the sequel. Years later, he gave the unfinished book to fellow mystery writer Max Allan Collins, asking him to finish it after Spillane died. Now, 44 years after The Delta Factor, The Consummata makes its first appearance under the joint byline of Spillane and Collins.

Was it worth the wait?

Well, that depends. Both Spillane and Collins are masters at generating suspense, creating and developing conflicts that make you keep turning the pages. The writing here is seamless; Collins has done a fine job of matching his style to Spillane's, which dominates the narrative; there's no way you can tell which writing belongs to Spillane and which to Collins. The story, which takes place in the mid-'60s, begins in media res with Morgan being pursued by the CIA through the streets of Miami. Rescued by Cuban nationalists, Morgan agrees to track down the traitor in their midst who robbed them of $70,000 that was meant to be used to fight the Castro regime. Morgan figures the job will help him get closer to the people who actually stole the $40 million the CIA thinks he has stolen and is tracking him down to recover.

The plot is a typical Spillane Mulligan stew, consisting of traitors, true patriots, prostitutes, madames, S&M freaks, over-the-top violence and, oh yeah, true love. Spillane began his career writing for comic books and the comic book sensibility is never far beneath the surface in his work.

It has to be said that by the 1960s, Spillane's powers were waning; The Consummata does not give us Mickey Spillane at his best. A few small things get in the way of the reader's pleasure. On three separate occasions, for example, people get their guns kicked out of their hands, which, you've got to agree, is a little sloppy. The big surprise in the book is no surprise at all and the way every woman in the book falls instantly in love with Morgan -- even the women who don't like men -- strains credibility a little. But all of those things are a part of Mickey Spillane's worldview and, even if this isn't the author at the top of his creative abilities, The Consummata offers a lot of reading pleasure.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

5 November 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new