Really, 5 stars+ Reviewer: Larry Scantlebury (Ypsilanti, MI United States)
Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler, on different coasts, saw the same hero. Western movies saw him in Shane, Alan Ladd's role, and in Cris, Yul Brynner's role. But before that there was Mike Hammer, tough, relentless, not (definitely not) PC, loyal and hard as nails.
We don't really know where he comes from. He hasn't been to therapy. He doesn't play soft jazz in his apartment, and have a collection of paintings, crockery, special fry pans and the poems of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. He drinks a lot. He has a friend on the cops and a sexy, very sexy secretary.
It all starts with him. In his wake are Lehane, Crais, Lescroart, Parker, George, Margolin and the like.
There's also a nice collection of Mike Hammer including "My Gun is Quick" and "Vengeance is Mine," and you can now get several other novels together. Highly recommended. 5+ stars. Larry Scantlebury
Verdict: Spillane Wins by Knockout, Reviewer: Hauke Rudolph (Memphis, TN United States)
Make no bones about it: this is definitely one of the best detective novels ever written, but not only that. It is also a piece of art, beautifully told, with characters that are hard to forget, and scenes that must have made Norman Rockwell shudder with disgust. It is also, more by accident than purposely it seems, a description of the underbelly of American society after World War II, when U.S. power was at its peak and the American way of life seemed to leave nothing to be desired.
Trying to find out who killed his best friend, Mike Hammer ruthlessly punches, kicks, and shoots himself through the mesh of thugs, pimps, racketeers, and femme fatales, that pave his way before he can finally nail down the murderer. His methods are brutal and totally inconsistent with even the most lenient interpretations of the law. Along the way, he meets a host of the most beautiful and attractive bombshells ever to grace the pages of a novel, not without getting a little closer to at least some of the most beguiling ones of these kittens. Despite his apparent disregard for rules, norms, and morals, deep down Hammer is a very decent and honorable man. Loyalty means everything to him; he treats doormen and elevator attendants with respect; and he even refuses to sleep with his soon-to-be wife before they officially seal their commitment. He even doesn't think anything of having a drink at the bar of a friend, who, incidentially, happens to be a black man.
As far as violence goes, Hammer sure doesn't shy away from it. Neither does he seem to dislike it all that much. However, he never resorts to it without a purpose. It's a means to an end, namely, to make the murderer of his friend pay and to finally bring about justice. The latter would not be served if not for Hammer taking the law in his own hands. "No jury would ever convict you on that, would they? ... We won't have to worry about a smart lawyer cracking our chains of circumstance and making them look foolish to a jury ... No, I am the jury now, and the judge, and I have a promise to keep".
The extent to which Spillane was despised by the 40s literary critics in particular and the then dominant voices of public opinion in general is not hard to imagine. I don't believe he would fare much better today; a statement like "you no longer had the social instinct of a woman - that of being dependent upon a man" would not go too well in today's politically overcorrect society. Well, I don't give a damn - to me Mike Hammer is an honest, straightforward, and down-to-earth character, just as I, The Jury is an unpretentious and sincere effort by its writer to make a buck. This, I guess, he did, and, incidentially, he created a great work of American fiction. You'r a good man, and I believe we all should have a whiskey or two to your health. Here's to you, Mickey.
(I have come across the "Unofficial Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer Site" - it's the best web page on this topic and about the best site on the whole world wide web).