Mickey Spillane's From the Files of...Mike Hammer: The complete Dailies and Sundays Volume 1
by Mickey Spillane, Ed Robbins, with Joe Gill
Edited by Max Allan Collins
Cover Artist: Ed Robbins
Review by Gayle Surrette
Hermes Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781613450253
Date: 26 March 2013 List Price $49.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mike Hammer was a character of his times, and nearly the definition of the noir detective -- hard drinking, womanizing, chain smoking, sucker for a sob story if it involves a woman or child in danger. He cares more for justice than he does for the law, and he wanders the dark and lonely streets where he often just happens to be jolly-on-the-spot when a crime is committed.
I'd heard of the movies and I almost remember reading the comic strip when I was much younger, since some of these strips seemed familiar. Max Allan Collins' introduction to the book explains why the comic disappeared and give much of the history of the character. After all the comics, there's a piece on the difficulty of restoring the comics while keeping as much of the original detail as possible. There's even some before and after examples.
When I say that Hammer was a character for his times, I mean that modern readers, especially women, need to give a pass to the sexism and stereotyping you'll find in the stories and art. You can't expect something written and illustrated years ago to have the same feel as the stories and art done today.
In these nine stories, Mike Hammer mostly stumbles into a crime and then makes it his business to make sure justice is served, with the help of his gal Friday, Velda, and his police officer friend, Pat Chambers. And the help of his friends is often needed as Mike tends to jump in and think later, a characteristic that makes for an exciting story, but would not work out so well in real like for a private detective.
Half-Blonde: Mike Hammer was in a bad section of town when he chances upon a half-blonde woman going through the pockets of a dead vagrant. Well, that's not a situation Hammer walks by and do nothing. Once involved, Hammer finds that the girl, Joan Larey, is in need of rescuing. The case isn't that simple; there's a cold case to solve that has gotten pretty warm.
The Bandaged Woman: The story starts before the Half-Blonde comes to an end, when Hammer happens to notice a man who doesn't look like he belongs walking down the corridor of the hospital where Hammer is recovering. Following the man, Hammer spies a heavily bandaged person in room 212. When he tries to get more information on the patient, he finds the patient has been moved. But his curiosity is aroused and he can't help getting involved, which leads to an interesting and exciting bit of detecting.
The Child: Mike Hammer is finally taking a night off to go on a date with his gal friday, Velda, but his phone keeps ringing. Pen Hanover, a big-time criminal boss, is trying to get in touch to hire Hammer. Mike is not interested in working for a criminal, but it turns out that Pen's daughter has been kidnapped and he wants Hammer to get her back. Hammer can't let the child suffer just because he despises the father so he takes the job. As you can probably imagine the job is not that simple or straightforward.
Another Lonely Night: In another case of being in the wrong place at the right time, Hammer chances upon a shooting and is on hand when the victim dies. This wouldn't be so bad except Pat Chambers, Hammer's cop friend who works homicide, leaks to the papers that the victim told Hammer who killed him. Mike feels betrayed, and with good reason, as he's had two attempts on his life within hours of the newspaper report. Mike's determined to catch the killer first. But then there's the loss of a close friend to deal with, how can he ever trust Pat again, or should he. But that all depends on Mike staying alive long enough to deal with his so-called friend.
Christmas Storyteller: Mike Hammer has a low opinion of Christmas and bets Velda that he can leave the office and be back with a criminal and the loot within three hours. He thinks he's going to beat that three hour limit when he spots a known shoplifter, Little Jimmy dressed as Santa, heading into a department store. The Christmas Spirit may have a few surprises in store for Mike.
Adam and Kane: Years ago, Adam Shaver was a world-class criminal wanted just about everywhere – then he retired. Now, Shaver wants Hammer to track down his son, who he hasn't seen in twenty years, and bring him to Shaver. He's led up to his job by describing his son as an even greater and more ruthless criminal than he'd been himself. Hammer is not sure he can bring in Shaver's son, but he has his own reason for trying. Can he succeed in time? Is he strong enough? Even more important, is he clever enough?
Comes Murder!: This story is the first of the colored strips in the book. This time Hammer happens upon two young people who are obviously in trouble. The boy has been beaten -- quite professionally in Mike's opinion. Hammer manages to get the story out of them and decides the crook needs to be taken down. One thing leads to another and there's more going on that he first thought. Tension rises as the stakes get raised – again.
The Sudden Trap: Again the story is in color. Mike is out of town when he stops for gas and finds himself face-to-face with a woman who'd died two years before. He can't let it go and decides to stay in town and find out what is going on and who is responsible. He ends up working with a local news reporter to get the information he needs but even then he's barely a step ahead of a bullet.
Dark City: Hammer tries to help a damsel in distress running from a big guy but when Mike knocks the guy out, she's turns on Mike. He shrugs it off, but the next day she shows up at his office to hire him to help her save her brother – the big guy – from a murder charge. The shocker is she's the victim. Hammer takes the job, but he thinks something's not right with this story. Can Mike figure what's really going on?
For fans of the old private eye daily comics or even the Mike Hammer movies, books, and TV show, this is a must have.