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15823457Max Allan Collins gets better with every Mike Hammer novel he completes from partial manuscripts left in Mickey Spillane’s papers. If one believed in that sort of thing, one might say he was channeling the late author.

This one was originally announced for publication in the sixties, but was abandoned for some reason. It’s a sort of sequel to THE GIRL HUNTERS(brief aside. I always liked the filmed version and thought Mickey did a better job playing Mike Hammer than he was credited). And Collins encourages the reader in the introduction to picture Mike as Hammer(something I’ve done in all these slate of co-authored novels.

Here, Mike accompanies a conservative Senator on a fact finding mission when his regular bodyguard is killed in an assassination attempt and Mike gets a minor leg wound stopping the killer.

Once there, Mike gets arrested while out walking off a heavy meal and taken into the back of a prison. He doesn’t waste any time when he gets a shot and fights his way out of the prison, gun blasting and spends two months getting out of Russia. He fights and kills forty-five in that effort.

The bulk of the novel is the aftermath when he gets back. The Russians are screaming, American politicians are screaming, and Mike isn’t taking shit from anybody. There is the very real possibility of him being turned over to the Russians to avoid an “international incident.”

Mike and Velda find themselves targets of both sides as they dig to find out what’s really going on.

Nicely paced Hammer thriller that I devoured in a couple of sessions in the afternoon.

Worthy of a read. Can be ordered here.

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