Friday, June 27, 2014

The Twisted Thing (Mickey Spillane, 1966)

After reading Goliath's Bone I'd promised myself not to go near any of those semi-finished Hammer novels patched together by Max Allan Collins and also to have at least one year break from Spillane in general. Have bought a few of his paperbacks at flea market since and was getting a bit excited and impatient as the end of my embargo was approaching.

But I picked up the wrong one. Nothing really works in this twisted thing. In short: Kidnapping case that soon turns into a murder investigation that quickly becomes a incomprehensible mess that drags itself like a fucking snail and finally reaches its climax with a pretty idiotic (but far from unexpected) twist.

Story is too complicated, it's partly hard-boiled and partly classical detective stuff (finding pajamas on the deserted road, fragment of newspaper, mysterious Mallory etc) and more than once it doesn't make much sense. No decent characterization: there's our super human Mike Hammer and everyone else is either good or bad. Surprisingly, even depictions of Spillane's trademarks of sex & violence are somehow pathetic. Violence is pretty distasteful (torture, beating people to a pulp) and way too repetitive (brain, blood, gore,... spurting, flying,... all over his coat, road,...).

Sex does deserve a separate paragraph. Check out these two descriptions:
  • Roxy took a quick breath, grabbed the negligee off the bed and held it in front of her. That split second of visioning nudity that was classic beauty made the blood pound in my ears. I shut my eyes against it. "Easy, Roxy," I said, "I can't see so don't scream and don't throw things. I didn't mean it.".
  • I followed her at a six-foot interval, enough so I could watch her legs that so obviously wanted watching.
You see where I'm getting at? I'm no psychiatrist but this kind of behavior seems to me very typical adolescent fear of adult women. You can watch them from a distance (and make remarks about them) but when you have one actually in front of you, your ass freezes. Which is okay and sort of funny when you start looking at one of the toughest motherfuckers in P.I. business in such light.

It stopped being funny when a Lesbian arrived on the scene. And I didn't miss-type: she's lesbian with a capital L (used more than once). It turns more and more into a quite nasty macho chauvinistic shit with remarks like "she only resembled a woman", "she being partially a woman", "she was only a half of dame", "if she thought it was like a man" etc. It looks like Mickey really got into this shit because our poor Myra's sexuality even plays a substantial part of the plot. 

Very disappointing. Not good, not exactly bad, but definitely boring as fuck. Which is something I'd never thought I would wrote about Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer book.

2/5 

Facts:

Hero:
Mike Hammer, PI

"I would like to know one thing, how good a detective are you?"
"I've killed a lot of men. I shoot the guts out of two of them....I hate the bastards that make society a thing to be laughed at and preyed upon. I hate them so much I can kill without the slightest compunction. The papers call me dirty names,... but I don't give a damn. When I kill I make it legal. The courts accuse me of being too quick on the trigger... I think fast, I shoot fast,.... and I'm still alive. That's how good a detective I am."

Location:
Wooster, near NYC

Body count: 5

Dames
  • Miss Malcom aka (ex) stripper Roxy - beautiful set of legs, natural curves, extraordinary pretty face
  • Alice Nichols - concert of savage beauty
  • Myra Grange (the Lesbian) - almost as tall as I was, ....figure that seemed to be well molded
  • Miss Cook aka the Legs
Blackouts:
Yes, he gets knocked out several times (not 100% positive but I think it was three times). Nothing special about any of them but there's one pretty crazy and cool description of regaining his consciousness: "I came back together like a squadron of flak-eaten bombers re-forming."  

Title: 
Poor Ruston - adult man trapped in a kid's body - is a twisted thing.

Cover
Cool and pulp-ish (damsel in distress, gun) with an unusual yellow/red color scheme. Not very accurate - even if it depicts a scene where Roxy was shot and wounded, there (1) shouldn't be gun lying around and (2) there should be some blood visible on her shoulder.

Cool lines:  
The guy knew guns. The safety was off and the rod was read to spit. [The Coolest!]

Why is that some dames can work me up into a lather so fast with so little is beyond me, but this one did. I quit playing around. I pulled my .45 and let her get a good look at it. "You open that door or I'll shoot the lock of," I said.

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