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Mike Hammer is the hard hitting, hard drinking private investigator who is going to find the man who murdered his best friend; then take care of him before the cops do. Beautiful women fall at Mike like bowling pins and anyone in his way gets a fist or a bullet. It’s New York City in the late 1940’s and if you aren’t tough, you might be dead.
It is important to put this book and its famous author in context. It was written in 1947 and that’s a long time ago now. Many things were different and many things sound pretty course to our modern ear. There is a lot of bigotry, homophobia and sexism in the dialogue. It was probably not meant to be offensive, but colloquial to give color to the scenes. Spillane started an entire genre of hard hitting crime fiction novels that are often copied to this day.
Put that aside if you can and enjoy a deliciously cheesy novel about two dimensional characters that do impossibly reckless things. In one scene, for example, Mike Hammer slams the heads of two men together like coconuts because they were ogling his girl. She giggles and tells him how safe she feels in his arms.
It might have been meant to be serious when it was written, but it comes across as improbable now, and actually quite funny. Enjoy it from a literary, historical point of view and you’ll have fun. Take it seriously and you’ll be quite disappointed. Too many clichés, plot holes and character flaws for that.
The story is performed by Mike Dennis who does a fine job of it. His voice fits the rough Mike Hammer perfectly, you can almost hear the stubble growing on his chin. His other characters are mostly fine, distinctive enough and easily discerned from each other.
It’s almost impossible to put ourselves into the mindset of a 1940’s reader. You will recognize so many modern detective stories in Spillane’s work. It’s worth it just for that perspective. Don’t get offended and read this one for what it is and you’ll have a bit of fun.
Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.
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14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Mike Hammer is a classic character. An old school Private Investigator who isn't PC and always gets his man. We see Mike Hammer for the first time in "I, the Jury". He continues as Mickey Spillane's muse for 21 novels with the latest "Murder Never Knocks" arriving in March 2016. Mike Dennis brings this first in the series from 1947 back to life. His voice tells the story as much as the words do. This is another great narration that few could do as well as Dennis.
Hammer's best friend from the World War 2 is murdered, a man who saved Hammer's life, and now the murder must die. Mike is willing to kill anyone who looks like a suspect and so the race against time and the police is on. Will Mike get the right man? Will he make a righteous kill, or will the police stop him. It's clear his conscious will not. A great listen for all who like the grit of old time radio with an edge.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful