Friday, February 29, 2008

The Erection Set by Mickey Spillane

The Erection Set by Mickey Spillane
Signet 5120, Copyright 1972

When I was in the U.S. Navy in the mid-70s, it seemed that wherever you went on the ship this paperback was laying around. Sailors being what they are, most of them were attracted to the paperback for the cover, the title, or both. Even though I read a few Mike Hammer and Tiger Mann novels prior, I was taken back at seeing Spillane’s name on “The Erection Set.” Well, somewhere probably in the Mediterranean Sea, I crawled in my rack and started it, and of course I’m glad I did. It’s was a true awakening.

Mickey Spillane brought this one up a big notch. He throws all into it and leaves little out. The main character, Dogeron Kelly, is possibly the toughest SOB in print. In fact he’s a bastard, but a "good guy" bastard. I have yet to find another character that comes close. It’s a violent story of a man with a secret past, out to make things right. Like the cab driver said looking at Kelly as they leave Kennedy Airport, “Shit, man, you’re loaded for bear.” Kelly has been away from New York City for a while, and returns to blow the town wide open. Bad guys beware! Strictly for the men of course. Was it controversial?-probably, I had no idea what the critics or Spillane fans thought of it at the time. And of course I didn’t care.

Almost like a magnet, I pick up this paperback every few years. Sometimes I read just a few choice pages and other times I’ll read it all. And I always thought it was just to bring back memories from a time when I was younger, careless, or remembering lonely days at sea. But of course I know that is not why, I read it because of one thing-the main character, Dogeron “Dog” Kelly. And thanks to the Mick, we have the original, ultimate, son-of-a-bitch, .45 packer, who do anything for the sake of justice….

“So I broke every finger on Bridey’s hands, too, then stitched him up the side of each cheek, so he’d never be invisible in a crowd again. I opened his belt, pulled his pants and shorts down, and waited the two minutes until he started to wake up, holding the point of the pick right over the two goodie sacs, and just as a groan wheezed through his lips and his eyes opened and rolled toward mine I drove the ice pick through those lumps of tissue into the rubber-tiled floor and the frenzied yell of horror he started never got past the sharp hiss of his sucked-in breath before he fainted.
The next person to go in that bathroom would do more than relieve his bladder or bowels.”

Of course later I had to read Mickey Spillane’s second “dirty little book” published a year later, “The Last Cop Out.” This I thought had the slightly better plot, with a similar type character in ex-cop Gillian “Gill” Burke. In this one Burke is asked to go up against a Mafia family alone. Violent and downright gross at times, but damn good. But Dog Kelly came first and left the impression that is forever etched upstairs.

Could these two novels be Mickey Spillane’s best pieces of work?
I believe so…


Anonymous said...

Cool. I intend to read 'em both. mtm

Anonymous said...

I like them both fine,
but neither book can touch Spillane's One Lonely Night-
a noir freak-out of the first order with slatherings of richly atmospheric prose, a staggeringly violent climax, and Hammer so far off on the edge that he's practically unhinged. I re-read that one every couple years.

John Hocking

August West said...

John: You got me there. I just checked my list of Spillane books that I read and I didn't read "One Lonely Night." I know I have it somewhere-cus I remember it has the coolest Spillane cover with a nude dame tied by the hands from the ceiling. I'll find it and start it after I finish the 2 novels I'm into now.
Thanks for the Recommendation....

Anonymous said...

The woman hung by the wrists is Velda.
The scene is actually in the book.
Seeing Velda in this state puts Hammer in a really bad mood.


James Reasoner said...

I'll second John's recommendation of ONE LONELY NIGHT. It's easily my favorite Spillane, with one of the best opening chapters you'll ever read and a great ending.

I read and enjoyed THE ERECTION SET and THE LAST COP OUT and enjoyed them, but I read all the Hammer novels first (the ones published up to that point) and liked them even more. Got to admit that Sherri Spillane made a fine cover model, though.

August West said...

Found my copy of "One Lonely Night" and had to throw some glue on the binding (dried out)Will attack it in a few days. Getting older, I notice I have hold those Signet paperbacks farther and farther away-could they have made the type any smaller.

This is the only Mike Hammer book that I haven't read, so being probably the best-I'm getting excited.

Thanks to all

Anonymous said...

In case you didn't know, the naked blonde on the cover of The Erection Set was Mick's then wife Sherri.

Mohamed Watfa said...

Can I ask someone who has the erection set to scan it for me. I have almost all the spillanes and would exchange a scan from a scan.

Ola said...

I remember reading this book when i was a teenager in the 80s borrowing the book from my mom. Thought it was really good.

Now i am thinking about reading it again. Hope it is as good as i remember it.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite books too, but for possibly the exact opposite reason. The dialogue is some of worst I've ever read, and the conflict gets resolved out of nowhere in the last 10 pages by someone inventing a perpetual motion machine.
"You're going to get a kick in the twat, honey."
"When I bury my bone, I bury it deep."
"her virginal pussy smiling with parted lips because it didn't know any better."
This book is pretty much the Twilight of Detective stories. Spillane was the original Meyer. :)

Unknown said...

I am reading it right now, I found it in my father's library, a fistr edition copy I think e bought in London, and I can't put it down, great page-turning story, love it!
Alessandra, Milan, Italy