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Mickey Spillane passed away in 2006, leaving orders to his wife that all unfinished manuscripts be “turned over to Max. He’ll know what to do with them.” The two had often discussed works in progress and Mickey had even trusted some manuscripts to Allan’s care. A good thing, Hurricane Hugo destroying Spillane’s home a few weeks later.

THE GOLIATH BONE is the first of several Mike Hammer novels that Allan is completing from rough drafts and extensive notes, not to mention those discussions about his intentions.

Hammer’s well honed nose for trouble knew something was up when he spotted the gypsy cab parked for a period, a mysterious hooded figure in back watching the streets. When a young couple comes along, descending into the subway, the hooded figure emerges from the cab to follow, with Hammer, .45 in hand, right behind them.

He interrupts an apparent assassination attempt, actually shooting the silenced .22 of the hooded man out of his hand. The force knocks the killer backwards down the stairs, dying of a broken neck.

The couple were the children of a married couple, professors at NYU. While on a jaunt in the Middle East, in the Valley of Elah, they find and dig up a thigh bone, human, so large that the original owner would have been ten feet tall. Could it belong to the biblical giant, Goliath, that David slew with a sling shot?

It was smuggled out and brought to America. But word was getting out. everyone was interested in “acquiring” it. The killer Hammer had stopped was linked to al-Qaeda. The israelis wanted it as a symbol of victory over an enemy. Private collectors wanted it. Every Arab nation was laying claim to the remains of one of their heroes.  A P.T. Barnum type wanted it. Homeland Security wanted it. The FBI came calling.

You see, this is post 9-11 New York City.

is it really the thigh bone of Goliath? That’s something that can never be proved. But them, religious symbolism has never really needed proof. Now everyone is afraid this will ignite a war in the Middle East or another attack on America.

What had Mike and Velda got themselves caught up in? They’d been planning that long put-off wedding that very weekend.

Now they were hired to guard the young couple. An old friend, fresh out of prison, was stabbed as he hit the street. Barely surviving, he warns Mike of talk amongst the Muslims of a contract on his head. Pat Chambers tells him of rumors of a 7’3″ al-qaeda assassin, known appropriately by the code name Goliath, slipping into the country through Canada.

All that and this is an older Mike Hammer. They are never specific about his age, though there are references sprinkled throughout about shuffleboard and social security. He’s still tough as nails though. When meeting a young special forces guy brought to the University lab for security, Mike thinks, “He’s trained to kill with one hand. With me, it would take two. When I was his age, he would be in trouble.”

Though he did a good job at Spillane’s style, it’s obviously a mix. Which is not a bad thing. I’m a fan of Collins’ books as well and it makes for a good blend.

I enjoyed the new direction. In the afterword, Collins mentioned that Spillane was working on a Hammer at the time of 9-11 and decided to have his PI tangle with terrorists in this one.

This is supposed to be the last Hammer chronologically, with at least two more “earlier” stories to follow. I look forward to them.