cover image Black Alley

Black Alley

Mickey Spillane. Dutton Books, $23.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94229-0

Mike Hammer is a hard guy to kill. Caught in a gangster shootout in New York City, Hammer takes two slugs in the gut. Triage teams leave the tough PI for dead, but a burned-out doctor, wasting away in dockside bars, reclaims his professional pride and brings Hammer back from the brink. Mending slowly, Hammer learns that his old war buddy, Marcos Dooley, has been shot. As he dies, Dooley gives a Hammer a clue regarding $89 billion in cash, crime proceeds hidden by old-guard mobsters fearing a power play by younger hoods. With his still-faithful partner, Velda, Hammer launches a treasure hunt that takes him to Florida and upstate New York, butting heads with the feds--they want the money, too--and the remorseless son of an old mob don. Spillane's hard-boiled hero has softened with time; he finally tells Velda how he really feels about her--but, on doctor's orders, he refrains from consummation. ""You're really trying to ruin your reputation, aren't you,"" Velda complains. Not likely. Spillane keeps the pulpy action coming, with hot lead, male bonding and a sex kitten. Mike Hammer looks like he'll make the next century, even if it means bran flakes and 2% milk for breakfast. Mystery Guild main selection. (Nov.)