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Dead Street
Mickey Spillane
Hard Case Crime 2007
221 pages

Mickey Spillane may be dead but like in many a mystery novel there are still a few mysteries around the guy. The latest, and not the last, is Dead Street published by Hard Case Crime, the whodunit paperback publisher with those cool old school pulp fiction covers. Dead Street, as the back of the book will reveal, was prepared for publication by Max Allan Collins, another mystery writer and close friend of Spillane’s. In the afterword Collins explains what prepared for publication means but suffice to say it’s hard to tell what Collins did and did not do.

Dead Street by Mickey Spillane is the story of retired police captain Jack “the Shooter” Stang an old school cop who, like many of his retired brethren, finds it hard to stay inactive. Stang is nonplussed as the street his old precinct squatted on is being torn up and rebuilt. This brings back a few memories, none of which is more painful than that of Bettie, his dead girlfriend. Stang then learns Bettie is still alive and living the sort of life someone in witness protection might enjoy in a Florida retirement community that caters to ex-cops. There is also a reason why Bettie is living in such a community and Stang immediately tries to figure out that reason.

This latest Mickey Spillane mystery reads pretty much like the Spillane we have all come to love: hard boiled take no prisoners detective looks into something and all hell breaks loose. There is a post 9/11 twist to this particular story that doesn’t quite read like your old school noir mystery but also doesn’t quite feel out of place either because Spillane basically took the old armored car heist and whatever happened to the loot bit and nine-elevened it.

Mickey Spillane fans will enjoy Dead Street and be satisfied until the last Mike Hammer novel (yes, there is going to be one, unlike the infamous Black Border for McGee) comes out. If you like noir mystery novels, this one will also satisfy.

By the way, in the afterword Collins says one of the reasons Mickey Spillane took a break from writing hard boiled detective novels is he became a Jehovah’s Witness. I’d like to meet the man who turned down a Watchtower when Spillane knocked at the door.

Other Hard Case Crime mystery novels we reviewed:

Lawrence Block Grifter’s GameĀ  Click to read the review.

Stephen King The Colorado Kid Click to read the review

Richard Aleas Songs of InnocenceĀ  Click to read the review