Iíve been reading David Halberstamís The Fifties to see what I missed during the decade. One thing I didnít was Mickey Spillane, the mega-best-selling author whose alter ego in a series of blood-and-guts books was a psychopath called Mike Hammer.
In the first, I, the Jury, the killer turns out to be Hammerís own squeeze, Charlotte. As the book ends, the one-man jury sentences her to death by .45-caliber automatic. Hoping to change his mind, she strips naked and leans forward to kiss him. Good luck with that, Charlotte:
ďHer eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly she looked down at the ugly swelling in her naked belly where the bullet went in. A thin trickle of blood welled out.Ē
Some years ago I listened to Spillane give a speech at the annual awards banquet of the Mystery Writers of America. I donít remember the speech, but I remember his answer during the Q&A to a lady author who wanted to know why Mike Hammer had shot Charlotte in the belly.
Said Spillane, ďHe missed.Ē