RIP, Mike Hammer

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He stood with his back angled to the wall. To an indifferent observer he was simply in idle conversation, but it wasn't like that at all. This was an instinctive gesture of survival, being in constant readiness for an attack. His head didn't turn and his eyes didn't seem to move, but I knew he saw us. I could feel the hackles on the back of my neck stiffening and I knew he felt the same way.
          Dog was meeting dog. Nobody knew it but the dogs and they weren't telling.
Mickey Spillane, The Body Lovers

Mickey Spillane is dead at age 88.

Mickey Spillane, 88, who died July 17 in Murrells Inlet, S.C., was one of the world's most popular mystery writers. His specialty was tight-fisted, sadistic revenge stories, often featuring his alcoholic gumshoe Mike Hammer and a cast of evildoers who launder money or spout the Communist Party line.

His writing style was characterized by short words, lightning transitions, gruff sex and violent endings. It was once tallied that he offed 58 people in six novels.

Starting with "I, the Jury," in 1947, Mr. Spillane sold hundreds of millions of books during his lifetime and garnered consistently scathing reviews. Even his father, a Brooklyn bartender, called them "crud."

Mr. Spillane was a struggling comic book publisher when he wrote "I, the Jury." He initially envisioned it as a comic book called "Mike Danger," and when that did not go over, he took a week to reconfigure it as a novel.

Rest in peace, Mickey.

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