Review of THE LAST STAND By Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane
March 2018
Hard Case Crime

On March 9th of this year (2018) Mickey Spillane would have been 100 years old. As a fan of mystery novels I think this is reason to celebrate. Apparently, the good folks at Hard Case Crime agree because they are releasing a previously never published book by the master, and also published for the first time, the last novel he wrote complete.

In the introduction for this book Max Allan Collins, both a Spillane scholar and friend to the late hard-boiled icon, some of the history is explained. A BULLET FOR SATISFACTION (a novella length story) appeared to have been written around 1952 and was left unsold possibly because of some changes in Spillane’s life that Collins explains. THE LAST STAND was the book Spillane had finished before his death in 2006, but while finished it hadn’t been edited at that time. We’ve shared the story in interviews with Max Allan Collins but for those unfamiliar here’s the short verse version. Mickey and Al were close and fast friends. Towards the end of his life Mickey made it clear to his wife and Max that he would like to have Max go through all the unpublished work and un finished work and get it to publishers. Mickey had three offices where he would work and they yielded a great deal. As of this year 20 novels have been published plus a comic book (also from Hard Case Crime). 

More on Max Allan Colllins work on the Spillane books here in an article in the Guardian and on the Max Allan Collins website.

A BULLET FOR SATISFACTION is the hard-boiled kind of story that made people buy everything Spillane wrote. A tale driven by vengeance with all the heard boiled tropes we love. An ex-cop looking for a killer in a town that is as hard as he is. It’s a quick read and a pure joy to take in. Anyone who has read a Mike Hammer novel will love this for it’s action driven plot and great noir feel and feels like the era in which it was written.

THE LAST STAND is notably written by the same hand, but they are hands that may have mellowed a bit. Our protagonist is looking for peace and while it has the vengeance angle it is one of the side characters that is feeling rage. A situation pitting FBI against fortune hunters and local native Americans has our hero, a pilot whole has come into this mess not by choice but rather bad luck, just trying to come through in one piece. This tale is very much Spillane’s voice, but while A BULLET FOR SATISFACTION has that voice booming THE LAST STAND is more of a quiet voice you’d hear across a table in a dark bar near closing time.

Spillane fans will love these stories and for folks who have not yet had the pleasure I think this will make them seek out all the other work. Mickey’s 100th birthday has yielded a wonderful gift for all his fans.

Jon Jordan