Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Body Lovers by Mickey Spillane

The Body Lovers by Mickey Spillane
Signet P3221
Copyright 1967

Spillane's The Body Lovers was written when Mike Hammer came out for round two. Round one being the six explosive Hammer novels from 1947-1952. In the 60s, the toughest fictional PI reappeared in five more novels. Some say they fall a step behind when compared to the first ones, but to me The Girl Hunters (1962) and The Twisted Thing (1966) didn't miss a beat. As for The Body Lovers, I will agree that it's not even near being one of top novels that feature Mike Hammer. But it still is a Mickey Spillane novel, and it still has the violently vindictive Mike Hammer reeling out his own ways of justice, and it still is entertaining as hell.

But it wasn't her he was seeing. It was me he was watching. I was one of his own kind. I couldn't be faked out and wasn't leashed by the proprieties of society. I could lash out and kill as fast as he could and of all the people in the room, I was the potential threat. I knew what he felt because I felt the same way myself.

Bang page one, Hammer stumbles upon a body of a beautiful girl that was whipped to death. From his cop buddy Capt. Pat Chambers, he finds out that other girls have been found tortured and killed. The only lead is that all were found wearing exotic negligee. Mike stays out of this one, even though most of the press and the public believes otherwise. But not for long, because a crook that Hammer sent to the slammer hears about the murders and hires Mike to locate his missing sister. The sister knew the dead girls and might be next. Quickly Hammer is setup for a hit, botched of course with him blasting the hood to kingdom come. The trail leads to the high fashion world and shady UN delegates. And when Velda, Hammer's full-time secretary and part-time associate, gets caught in the action and Mike discovers her missing, not only does he pulled back his snarly grin, the hammer on the .45 gets cocked and he is ready to release his rage.

A little less hard than you'll find in other Hammer novels. But when I comes, it comes. The best by far is when Hammer is looking for a pimp named Lorenzo Jones. He locates Roberta, one of Jones' whores. Roberta agrees to tell him where Jones is hiding but on one condition, Hammer must take her along to watch him kick the crap out the pimp. It's Spillane at his best. In The Body Lovers, Hammer comes off a bit older. He even realizes it. At one point he talks about dissection thinking and missed clues in this head, "Little voices, I thought. They were saying something, but were too far away to be heard. It wasn't like the old days any more. I could think faster then." But when he's ready to cut down the evil that has spread throughout the city, our revenge seeking white knight doesn't fail the reader.

This one has all that makes Mike Hammer novels a fun read. Including Hammer's (and Spillane's) views about commies, diplomatic immunity, bleeding-heart liberals creating loopholes in the justice system-they are all here. The reader is never disappointed. You can't go wrong picking up a Mickey Spillane novel. He was an American icon and created one of the most memorable private detectives in fiction.

Every now and then you have to get your Mike Hammer fix.


Cullen Gallagher said...

This sounds terrific. I loved "The Girl Hunters," as well. I'll be keeping my eye open for "The Body Lovers" now.

Anonymous said...

Just finished reading "The Twisted Thing" today. It's as good now as it was when I first read it in high school, over 20 years ago.