Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, December 10, 2011
      ( 12/10/2011 01:54:00 PM ) Bill S.  

“SHE IS A RUMOR. A WISP OF SMOKE.” A posthumous “collaboration” between the late best-selling pulpster and one of his most vocal admirers, Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins’ The Consummata (Hard Case Crime) is a follow-up to Spillane’s 1967 best-seller, The Delta Factor. Introducing a new Spillane creation, Morgan the Raider, a “robbin’ hood” who “never took any spoils from anyone who didn’t have it coming,” the debut novel served as the basis for a rote Christopher George action flick that so dissatisfied Spillane that he put aside the start of a sequel. Forty years later, Collins has completed the ms., resolving the storyline that had been introduced in the first book.

The book opens with hero Morgan on the lam from federal agents after he’s been falsely accused of stealing $40 million in currency. Hooking up with a group of Cuban expatriates in Miami, Morgan divides his time between dodging federal agents led by the smarmy special agent Crowley and tracking down the sadistic Jaimie Halaquez, a former soldier in Castro’s army who has swindled $75,000 from the Miami Cuban community. Halaquez’s sordid leanings take our hero through the seamier side of Miami – and ultimately to the awkwardly named title figure, a near-mythic madam who specializes in sado-masochistic tricks for the powerful – sort of the Lady Heather of her day.

Through the course of his pursuit through the brothels of Miami, Morgan comes up against more than one beddable working girl along with the inevitable dumb and vicious thugs: the kind of guys who think nothing of blowing up a hotel just to stop our hero. In the end, Collins brings it all to a perhaps-too-tidy conclusion, but you can understand his urge to do so. Our hero, after all, has been left out in the cold for a good forty years.

Though not as visceral as some of Spillane’s earlier Mike Hammer novels, The Consummata moves snappily through its period terrain. Collins, who has done his share of solid historical crime dramas, wisely keeps the action in the late sixties where Spillane initially placed it. If a few period references come across more Collins than they do his late collaborator (e.g., a reference to “Catwoman in the old Batman funny books”), that’s a small plaint. In general, the book reads true to the voice of Spillane’s wise-cracking hero. I’m thinking Morgan’s creator would be happier with Collins’ treatment of the character than he was with Hollywood’s.

(First published on Blogcritics.


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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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