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The Goliath Bone, by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins (2008)

A giant ancient femur is uncovered in the Valley of Elah by two archeology students. It could be a bone from that well-known biblical figure, Goliath. It could also result in a hell of a lot of trouble.

According to the afterword written by Collins, Spillane was all set to retire Mike Hammer for good. And then 9/11 happened. And that beget Mike Hammer vs al-Qaeda.

Well, why not?

You can readily accept that if you can accept Mike Hammer - a World War II veteran - still operating as a private eye in the 21st century and still engaged to Velda. He's no longer a spring chicken. He may be kinder, though no less gentler (just before an Arab terrorist dies, Hammer snarls "I'm going to make sure they bury you with a pork chop tied around your damn neck.").

Hammer's not the only genre character who's astonishingly well-preserved. Matt Helm - another WWII vet - was still undertaking spy missions up to the early 90s when Donald Hamilton passed away. Parker was only (vaguely) given a description in his first book. Thereafter, the only description given him for the next 40 years was that he was big. Age wasn't an issue. They're at least more believable than Maggie Simpson being a baby for over 20 damn years.

Still, it is a bit of a whiplash when Hammer uses a cellphone or mentions in a conversation with the police that the scene of the crime took place around the corner of a Starbucks. That's part of the charm of the book. even the early 21st century is no match for Mike Hammer.

     "Pal," he told me, "you are a goddamn troublemaker. Always have been. Here I am, almost ready to retire and there you sit, finally ready to marry that beautiful dame...and yet you take time out to play with a big can of deadly worms again."
     She appeared in the doorway to the outer office, a long-stemmed vision in a trim gray suit. "Yes, Mike?"
     "Captain Chambers called you a 'dame' again. Is that sexist, or...what's that other term?"
     "Anachronistic, Mike." The lush lips formed a glowing smile. "But I like it. Coming from Pat, it's always a compliment."


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October 2016



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