Still more rarities from the vaults of the blood-and-guts king of the 1950s: stories, comics, journalism, poetry. They even show Spillane’s softer side.
Collins and Myers kick off with a pair of stylish, brutal turns for signature shamus Mike Hammer condensed from The Killing Man (1989) and Black Alley (1996). But things go downhill fast. The script “Tonight, My Love” dramatizes a first meeting between Mike and his faithful secretary Velda that nobody will believe; “The Duke Alexander,” in which Mike is mistaken for a fortune-hunting aristocrat, probably didn’t even fool its creator; and the magazine nonfiction that follows proves mostly that Spillane, for all his enthusiasm and his checkered experience, is no journalist. Best of this batch is “I Rode with Hot Rod Moonshiners,” about North Carolina cops’ unending war on illegal stills. Spillane also recalls his experiences diving for treasure, working with a circus, driving fast cars, and watching other guys drive even faster. The most dated, even embarrassing, pieces are an essay and a poem in appreciation of the fair sex. The most revelatory are the comic-book adventures of Mike Lancer and Mike Danger, which show just how deeply rooted Hammer was in the comics.
Hardcore Spillane fans (are there any other kind?) will be thrilled. Others may hear a distinct scraping from the bottom of the barrel.