LADY, GO DIE! by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Titan Books
May 2012

Fans of classic pulp have been getting a special gift for the last few years. After Mickey Spillane’s passing in 2006, his close friend and fellow literary icon Max Allan Collins has been completing the remaining never before seen Mike Hammer novels from Spillane’s notes. The results have been wonderful.
With LADY, GO DIE! we get more than another two-fisted tale. LADY was originally meant to be the sequel to the classic Mike Hammer debut novel I, THE JURY. For reasons forever lost to us, the book never saw the light of day. Thanks to Collins, that oversight has been corrected.

LADY, GO DIE! Is a fun read. We find Hammer and his curvy, ever-present secretary/love interest Velda taking some much needed R&R in the small Long Island town of Sidon. As they pass an alley, Hammer and Velda spot a group of local police kicking the hell out of a local, feeble-minded beachcomber named Poochie. As they investigate why anyone, especially the police, would be out to hurt the harmless drifter, that’s when the seedy side of the town shows itself.

Sidon is a beachside tourist town. Money comes in when the weather gets warm and the sun worshipers flock to the ocean side. But thanks to a deeply rooted web of gambling and corruption, money is flowing in all year long. The key to the story is the beautiful Sharron Wesley. After going missing, Wesley shockingly shows up draped across the back of a stone horse in the middle of town. Naked, just like Lady Godiva.

When you read a Mike Hammer story, there are things that you expect to find. The easy tough guy manner that Hammer has as he goes about his business, for example. But that manner can just as easily turn to murderous rage at the drop of a hat. Hammer hates crime, and openly states many times he’d, “Squeeze his throat, or squeeze the trigger. It doesn’t matter to me.” Also, the cat and mouse game between Hammer and Velda is here as well. Velda is everything to Hammer. He worships her more than anything. And it’s only when Velda is threatened in the book that we get to see the classic Hammer rage. Always described as a curvy, voluptuous woman, with her pageboy haircut, Velda is more than arm candy for Hammer. She is also a licensed PI, and often does the legwork in the cases Hammer takes on.

Sure, LADY, GO DIE! is filled violence, sex, drinking, and more violence. All sorts of things that would make a politically correct person cringe. But it’s a fun read that rings true to the way the character was originally written by Spillane. And in that vein, I hope Mike and Velda have many more adventures before Collins is through.

Dan Malmon