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Mickey Spillane’s Black Alley…a book review:
If private eye Mike Hammer takes some lead in the gut and needs a doctor to patch him up, will he get a loving sincere TV doctor? Or will it be the fallen skid row bum type… some has-been doctor clawing his way back to respectability? (Hint: Mike likes to swill beer with his doctor.) Is Black Alley to be a tale of redemption?
Or is it a love story? For at long last, Mike proposes to his knock-out secretary Velda….violating doctors orders….he is not supposed to get excited, but how can you not with a woman like Velda? She’s long hoped, but never thought, the day would come. But there will be no shacking up before the knot is tied….Mike is an old fashioned type of guy. And it’s going to be one heck of a courtship.
See, the mob has lost all their money, and they’re not too happy about it. Turns out they think Mike knows where the dough is. The Feds think so too, and they want the money for taxes. So Mike has to dodge them both and beat them all to the stash. Oh, did I mention that he’s recuperating from a near fatal wound, and the dead beat doctor has to show up now and then to patch his guts with duct tape? Will Mike be up to the challenge?
As Mike himself would say, don’t be a jerk! You know very well he’ll be. This is Mike Hammer! It’s the mob that better watch out!
This is a crime story, and it may sound over the top, but writer Spillane pulls it off with flair. He’s doing what he does best…writing cops and robbers. He’s was doing it while I was still….well…he’s been doing it a long time, and it shows. His first novel sold in 1947, and he has mastered his craft. No cardboard, techno-thriller characters in Black Alley. Love and redemption subplots operate in the background. Here are characters with depth that you can care about. If they’re not entirely believable, they are nonetheless riveting, well-sketched. The bad guys are bad, the good guys are good, and they are all well worth the read.
The preceding is the book review I wrote a while back to be released someday, and now that Mickey Spillane has died, (July 17, 2006) it seems a good a time as ever.
Mickey was one of our people, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He may have been in and out once or twice….I’m not really sure….but he died faithful.
A worthy pastime, if you are going to read any of his novels, is to find in them references to the faith. You have to bypass the first super violent Hammer novels, written from 1947 on, because he didn’t become a JW until 1952. And I’ve only read three, one of which doesn’t count: (pre-1952) I, the Jury, Black Alley, and Something’s Down There. I, the Jury was his first. Black Alley and Something’s Down There were his last.
Mako, in Something’s Down There, speaks of the nutty evolutionists. That’s a clue. Evolutionists aren’t nutty….they’re revered. Thus, the book’s author is either a JW or a fundamentalist Christian. If he is a fundamentalist Christian, the characters will spend lots of time in church. No one does in this book, so the author must be a JW.
But the real giveaway is Mike Hammer eying the Mafioso’s house in Black Alley. It is heavily fortified, he observes, like ancient Babylon! Mike Hammer, tough private eye, familiar with ancient Babylon?? Not likely, but Jehovah’s Witnesses know all about Babylon. They’ve studied it time and again….it’s impregnability, it’s system of canals, it’s massive walls and gates….and it’s one vulnerability. It’s imprisonment of exiled Jews. And their unexpected, even miraculous, release.
Jehovah’s Witnesses take great interest in Babylon because its fall foreshadows events in the modern day.
Old Testament She has fallen! Babylon has fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he has broken to the earth! Isa 21:9
New Testament: After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, with great authority; and the earth was lighted up from his glory. And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen... Rev 18:1
Every Jehovah’s Witness knows about this.