Mar 282014
 
Who would be your dream mash-up? (For instance, Sherlock Holmes thrown together with Stephanie Plum.)

By Paul D. Marks

(I think I understood this week's question a little differently. I thought mashing it up was teaming two detectives together, rather than merging them into one. So, on that basis, here goes.)

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In this corner we have Kathy Mallory, Carol O'Connell's tough as her long, red fingernails, NYC police detective. And in this corner, we have Mickey Spillane's violent and brutal PI Mike Hammer. What a team.

If you're a bad guy you better watch out if these two are coming at you.

Hammer has frequently been labeled a psychopath and Mallory has been called a sociopath...by her own author, Ms. O'Connell. These two would be the solve it or kill 'em Dream Team. And any bad guy's worst nightmare as they tag-teamed them into submission.

Not only would Mallory and Hammer hammer on the bad guys, they would probably hammer on each other. And given each one's characteristics, I'm not sure who would come out on top.

Mike Hammer and Kathy Mallory – old school, brutal misanthrope vs. cold analytical not-give-a-damn-and-want-to-do-things-her-way-or-the-highway NYPD detective. Hammer is reminiscent of Dirty Harry (or vice versa as Hammer came first). Of course, now that I think about it so is Mallory. Mallory is sort of like a cat going after a mouse. She is beautiful to look at but cold and ruthless, without any remorse. Efficient and cool in pursuing her prey. She's relentless, a computer expert, who digs in deep and finds things no one else finds, sees things no one else sees, robotic in her efficiency. Somewhat emotionless, though one gets the idea that there are emotions she won't always admit to going on under the surface.

And Hammer makes Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and most other classic detectives look like kids playing cops and robbers in a playpen. For Hammer, the law is just an obstacle standing in the way of justice – or at least justice as he sees it – and one that can be gotten around by pretty much any means necessary. The end justifies the means. He has his own code and he will enforce that code, since the actual statutes and codes often let the badguys off. He doesn't give a damn about little things like laws, Miranda Warnings and other niceties. All in all you might say – and this is being kind and gentle – that Hammer is a thuggish, sexist, sadist, misanthrope. But probably a fun guy to have a beer with...

If Raymond Chandler thought of Marlowe and other detectives as modern knights errant, Spillane's Hammer is the tarnished knight, maybe the Black Knight, but he's no Darth Vader. He hasn't gone over to the dark side – he just uses dark side methods to help those who can't help themselves or who society is slow to help, if at all, find some semblance of justice.

Some readers have asked for a kinder, gentler Mallory. And the badguys would certainly like that. But O'Connell states in a Publishers Weekly interview: "PW: "Mallory’s drive remains as intense as ever, and she’s still lacking in warmth." Carol O'Connell: "Sometimes readers ask for a kinder, gentler Mallory. I explain that if I do that, I’ve got no book. These are character-driven novels, and I like the way the lady drives. In that respect, she has a vehicular-homicide way about her: always a challenge to go through a red light before it can turn green. I suppose I could try to warm up her image by giving her a dog, but the dog would be frightened all the time."

And if the question of a kinder, gentler Hammer was ever posed to Mickey Spillane I'm sure he would have thrown his drink in the questioner's face and laughed him out of the bar.

Some men, the good, the bad or the ugly, would be intimidated by Mallory. I don't think Hammer would. On the other hand, I don't think she would be intimidated by him. Wonder if they'd even find a little romance, if Hammer could tear himself away from Velda and Mallory could act human for a change.

The question I'm left with is would Mallory and Hammer beat the bad guy to a pulp or each other? Now that's a mash-up.
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And I'd like to congratulate Catriona for winning The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award for Best historical mystery novel at Left Coast Crime last weekend for "Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses." She gave a terrific and very moving and touching acceptance speech.





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Had a great time at Left Coast Crime last weekend. The conference was fun and interesting. Met lots of new people and reconnected with old acquaintances. And Monterey and the drive up and back is nothing short of stunning.
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Sep 102013
 
Recently, while writing my work in progress, THE DEATH BUSINESS I had to admit I am probably influenced more by Mickey Spillane than Raymond Chandler. I mean, in my neweste novella Noah Milano faces strippers, nymphomaniacs, nude models and is in a deadly firefight in the first fifty pages. Yeah, I like my Mike Hammer. So, this is another treat.
When Mike bodyguards a political figure in the Russia of 1964 he ends up in a lot of trouble and is forced to fight his way over the Iron Curtain. Back in New York City he discovers the Russians aren't accepting the fact a man who killed so many of theirs is allowed to walk around a free man.
Hammer decides to uncover a KGB agent in the States as leverage while some dangerous men are after a secret formula.
Yep, this is a Cold War story. Mike Hammer doing the Matt Helm / James Bond / UNCLE route, not surprisingly because the roots of this story are in the sixties when spies were all the rage. Mickey Spillane wrote a large part of this manuscript forty years ago that Max Allan Collins finished in the way he, as Spillane's friend and biggest fan can only do.
As always Mike Hammer is THE tough guy and the fights, witty banter and dames are all there and excellent. What really intrigued me in this one is the secret story of why Velda and Mike won't have kids. I wonder if Spillane thought this up or Collins.
I must admit I like the Hammer stories that deal with more straight-up crime better, but when it comes to hardboiled fiction Spillane and Collins are alway a killer combination.
Dec 162011
 
As I do every year I want to share with you my favorite PI-stuff of the year.

BEST PI NOVEL: 13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien
BEST DEBUT: Pocket-47 by Jude Hardin
BEST NEW PI: Conway Sax (in Purgatory Chasm) by Steve Ulfelder
BEST ACTION SCENES: Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Honorable mentions go to Timothy Hallinan whose first novel featuring Junior Bender, Crashed, was my favorite book I read this year. It came out in 2010, so it didn't really belong on this list.

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