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King of the Weeds


King of the Weeds

When you suddenly realize you’re about to be killed, all your mind does is tell you that you were dumb. You had the experience, you had the physical abilities, you had the animal instincts. But you were dumb.

Mickey Spillane may have had some doubts about his own immortality, but he certainly had none about Mike Hammer’s. With something like uncanny foresight, he chose his pal Max Allan Collins to take up where he would leave off, and he couldn’t have chosen better. The handover is seamless. Collins has taken Spillane’s notes and worked Hammer magic with them. It’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

In his 60s now, the legendary PI Mike Hammer is aging, but by no means beyond his prime, like some rock stars of the same vintage who shall remain nameless but who refuse to give up. Fortunately, Hammer can still carry a gun and shoot straight, while those singers, well, have a lot of trouble just carrying a tune. There’s no question that Hammer is still a force to be reckoned with.

"...a super fun read with high-adrenaline shootouts, thrilling chase scenes and, best of all, a truly killer ending."

Then there’s Velda, his sexy secretary --- and business partner and fiancé --- who is aging quite nicely herself. She’s wiser, cooler, even more beautiful in a mature sort of way. And with her own sort of competence. Don’t underestimate the lady.

In KING OF THE WEEDS, Hammer and his old friend, Capt. Pat Chambers, have noticed that the number of NYC cops dying recently, on and off duty, seems to be quite extraordinary. Is it just a coincidence? Chambers isn’t sure but doesn’t like the odds. Hammer doesn't think so and wants to find out who's behind the deaths. But he has his own worries, since someone seems intent on seeing him dead. Maybe more thanone someone. Well, it may have something to do with 89 billion --- with a B --- dollars of hidden mob money. Apparently Hammer is the only one who knows where it is, now that the last of the mob guys who were in on the secret have passed away. That’s enough dough to get a lot of folks murderously excited.

While Hammer and Velda are trying to stay alive, and working out what to do with a vast cavern filled with an unimaginable treasure, Capt. Chambers is fighting a potential career nightmare stemming from a decades-old conviction of a man now said to be innocent. It’s hard to argue otherwise, really: another man has stepped up and confessed. And he also might know the whereabouts of the murder weapon that never made it to trial all those years ago. With Chambers so close to retirement, this new development could devastate his sterling reputation and ruin his police pension. Why now? And can Hammer at least help to solve one or both of these cases?

As detective fiction goes, KING OF THE WEEDS is tops. Oh sure, Mike Hammer has more dumb luck than a cat coming across a semi that’s just dumped its load of cream. Still, it's a super fun read with high-adrenaline shootouts, thrilling chase scenes and, best of all, a truly killer ending. They just keep getting better.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 9, 2014

King of the Weeds
by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins