KILL ME IF YOU CAN
By Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Once again writer Max Allan Collins has completed a Mike Hammer story left unfinished by the late Mickey Spillane. If you’re a Spillane fan, this is always a cause for celebration. Note, that this volume is divided into two sections. The first is the actual novella length, “Kill Me If You Can,” and the second is a bonus collection of several Spillane short stories.
Whereas the novella itself is a fun read, it is very formulaic and contains most of the iconic tropes most Hammer tales are known for. The murder victim is an old Hammer acquaintance. The list of suspects includes the usual group of mean, sadistic gangsters and lastly, there’s the drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale. A seductress who is both good and bad tempting our tough guy hero to ignore his instincts and just put out the lights. Now formulas are not inherently a bad thing. Every mystery series since Sherlock Holmes came on the scene has used them; from Nero Wolfe to James Bond. Formulas are those comfortable pieces we’ve come not only recognize but also appreciate when delving into the series’ latest entry. If you’re a bonafide fan, you’ll see the climax coming a mile away.
The enjoyable surprises arrive in the book’s second half and those short story gems. There are five total; several adapted from radio plays and two featuring Hammer. Of the five, the standouts are “The Punk,” a grim, honest look at dope addiction, and “Tonight My Love,” delivering P.I. Hammer as the knight in tarnished armor destined to rescue a certain damsel in distress. The last line will put a smile on your face.
“Kill Me If You Can” is another great addition to the completist wish list. For Spillane fans, it’s Christmas coming early this year.