Max Allan Collins, it seems, is making a habit of rewriting “lost” manuscripts left to him by deceased crime writers and releasing them with his name ahead of the original author. A little weird, but to his credit, this is the second such work of his I have read, and the second that I enjoyed.
Lady, Go Die! (it’s a cludgy reference to Lady Godiva, let’s get that out of the way) is a sequel to the very first of Mickey Spillane’s famous Mike Hammer books–I suppose the former sequel is now the third in the series. As you might expect, it’s a hard-boiled gumshoe mystery, full of gansters and goons, underground casinos, pretty women with chips on their shoulders, and murder. This book walks the genre line faithfully, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking or revelatory, but if you want a quick-to-read mystery full of fistfights and cheesy wisecracks, this certainly delivers.
For instance, it’s full of lines like this:
I went to my bed where I had tossed my suitcase. I opened it, and slipped the .45 Colt automatic out od its sling where it slept like a baby on my clean underwear. But babies can wake up screaming…
Hammer is on vacation on Long Island, trying to pull himself out of an alcohol-soaked depression in the wake of the events of the first book (which I haven’t read). Trouble just seems to find him though, as he stumbles upon three cops “interrogating” (with their fists and boots) a homeless man in an alley, asking him about a missing woman he may have seen. Poochy is his name, and Hammer comes to his rescue. The next day the missing woman turns up dead, naked, and bloated, draped on the back of a horse statue (hence the title).
The woman, it turns out, was in bed with the mob, and running an illegal casino in her dead-husbands mansion. Hammer finds himself in the middle of a tangled conspiracy full of mobsters, crooked cops, and a possible serial killer mixed in. Saying more than that will spoil the fun.
You know if you like these kinds of books or not. If you like to relax with this sort of mystery now and again, Lady, Go Die! will keep you happy for a few hours.