cover image King of the Weeds: A Mike Hammer Novel

King of the Weeds: A Mike Hammer Novel

Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Titan (www.titanbooks.com), $22.99 (272p)

What's billed as the penultimate Mike Hammer novel, a posthumous collaboration between Collins and Spillane (Complex 90), will leave even die-hard fans wondering whether the effort to complete the manuscript was worthwhile. Instead of the gritty violence and razor-sharp prose that made the series and its lead iconic from the outset, this outing offers plot contrivances and silliness%E2%80%94and whether they originated with Spillane or not is irrelevant. As the book opens in the late 1990s, Mike Hammer, who's in his mid-60s, is shot twice as he goes to his New York City office, but the hit man, conveniently and improbably, takes off before insuring the PI is dead. This is but a prelude to a storyline centering on a treasure trove of $89 billion (yes, billion) that Hammer has squirreled away, the reopening of an old serial killer case, and a string of odd cop deaths. Labored prose (e.g., "the sky did a tympani number and that wet gray blanket over the city finally let go") doesn't help. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (May)