Advertised as the sequel to his debut novel, I, the Jury, the “lost Mike Hammer novel,” Lady, Go Die! (Titan Books) represents another posthumous “collaboration” between Hammer creator Mickey Spillane and his modern acolyte Max Allan Collins. One of “half a dozen substantial Mike Hammer novel manuscripts found among a wealth of unpublished material,” Lady is set a year after the famous three-word conclusion to Jury.
Thus, we see our hardboiled hero belying his “easy” assertion (“Pulling the trigger had been easy. Living with it had been hard.”) with a prolonged booze binge. Loyal secretary Velda and friend on the NYPD, Pat Chambers, convince Mike to get away from the city to Sidon, a small Long Island beach town, for some recuperative r-‘n’-r. Naturally, our man runs into murder.
The victim, per the book’s somewhat awkward title, proves to be that of a naked blond gold-digger whose corpse is found posed atop the statue of a horse. The strangled Lady Godiva turns out to have an interest in gambling, which puts our hero and his Gal Friday up against New York City mobsters and a bent cop named Dekkert who has found his way onto the small-town’s p.d. First time Hammer comes up against the latter, Dekkert is beating the crap out a mentally feeble bum savant named Poochie who’s been keeping an eye on the dead dame’s house of cards. Somewhere in the mansion is a cache of hidden loot, which, of course, draws the corrupt copper as well as the nekkid lady’s former business associates.
As our hero investigates further, he’s also confronted with the possibility that the murder may actually be unconnected to the mob action — but instead is the work of a serial killer. The resulting brawls and gunplay are presented effectively, though some fans of the thuggish p.i. may find some of his narration softer than usual. At times, when describing his va-va-voom secretary, in particular, ol’ Mike comes across a bit moony.
Collins even provides a three-word punchline to this affair, though he has to strain a bit to reach it. The line’s in character, but I don’t imagine that our hero will be brooding too much over it in the next posthumous “sequel.”