Spillane’s posthumous novel, completed by his sometime collaborator Collins (co-editors: A Century of Noir, 2001, etc.), pits Mike Hammer against—who else?—Middle Eastern terrorists scrabbling for a priceless artifact.
Taking a break from Professor George Hurley’s dig, his son Matthew and his stepdaughter Jenna Sheffield, who also happens to be Matthew’s secret sweetie, make a spectacular find in the Valley of Elah: a buried thigh bone whose owner stood over ten feet tall. No sooner do they identify it as a relic of Goliath, the Philistine fighter famed for his memorable defeat by David, than they’re threatened by dozens of modern-day fighters. A swarthy stalker takes a potshot at Jenna hours before she picks up the bone from the friend they’d shipped it to, then tries to kill the couple and snatch the parcel from them. But Mike Hammer, everyone’s favorite knight in tarnished armor (Black Alley, 1996, etc.), providentially rescues the pair, dispatching the first of many unnamed killers, and arranges for the artifact to be delivered to George Hurley’s NYU lab. That’s the cue for al-Qaeda, Homeland Security, the FBI, Mossad, an Israeli vigilante group and a megalomaniac theatrical impresario to take their best shot at stealing the giant’s bone.
Fans who aren’t put off when Mike finally ties the knot with his preternaturally patient girl Friday, Velda Sterling, can relax. They’re in good hands with Collins, who keeps up the vigilantism and the body count, tones down the violence and writes no worse than his master.