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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Goliath Bone
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"Do we need an attorney, Mr. Hammer?"
"No," I said. "You need me."

Mike Hammer is back! Twelve years after his last appearance in print (1996's Black Alley), America's best-selling private detective adapts to a post-9/11 world, complete with Islamic terrorists on his tail.

The Goliath Bone is the 14th in the long-running series that has spanned over 60 years. Mickey Spillane was never what you would call a prolific writer. Probably because he didn't write because he had to write: he only wrote when he needed money. Thus, for there to be years, even decades, between books was not unexpected. In fact, the 12 years since the last entry doesn't seem quite so long when you consider the nearly 20 that passed between #11 (Survival ... Zero!, 1970) and #12 (The Killing Man, 1989).

A little backstory: After Spillane's death in 2006, his friend and sometime collaborator Max Allan Collins (still the most vocal supporter of Spillane's influence on the crime genre) was given the task of finishing some of the incomplete works found in Spillane's files, with the most excitement focusing on a handful of unfinished Mike Hammer novels.

Though a standalone novel called Dead Street was published by Hard Case Crime under Spillane's sole byline, a Mike Hammer novel called The Goliath Bone was actually closer to completion when Spillane died. The job required Collins to do a combination of editing and writing throughout, getting his fingerprints, so to speak, all over the book.

Therefore, Collins's influence is felt throughout The Goliath Bone, where in Dead Street it was mainly in the final three chapters. Collins does a masterful job at matching Spillane's terse style, but his own more literary tendencies are likely to be noticed by a Collins devotee (such as myself).

The story is a little odd by usual Hammer standards. Two stepsibling grad students (the children of Nobel Prize candidates) possess a valuable artifact presumed to be the femur bone of Philistine giant Goliath ("that champ who went down for the count with an underdog's creek rock in his forehead") wrapped in brown paper. On their way down the subway stairs, someone tries to kill them, and Hammer (who just happened to be exiting a nearby bar when his Spidey-sense tingled) steps in just in time, making himself their bodyguard in the process.

Unfortunately, this new case comes at a very inconvenient time. Hammer and his long-time secretary/girlfriend Velda were just about to head off to Las Vegas and get married, and this puts that off for a little longer. But Velda knows who she's dealing with, and so doesn't put up much of a fuss, offering her own exemplary mental and armamentary services in addition.

No longer the lone wolf, Hammer is surrounded by the other characters for much of The Goliath Bone. The modern Mike Hammer is a man in love: he holds hands with Velda often and discusses the options with her, respecting her input. This is the Hammer of the 21st century, a man who doesn't live in the past, though he certainly talks about it a lot ("I was in all the papers").

Readers used to the tight pacing of the classic Spillane novels will notice instantly that The Goliath Bone has a great deal of talk in it. The exposition -- including lengthy discussions on the history and origins of the bone, the intentions of the different factions concerned (handled with some degree of sensitivity), life in a post-9/11 world, and especially far too much of "here's what might happen and here's what we're going to do about it" -- takes up over a third of the novel. But once it gets going, the book offers international intrigue on the level of Eric Ambler and John LeCarré.

More Hammer novels are slated for the next few years, but The Goliath Bone is meant to be the last chronologically in the Hammer "timeline" (much like Collins's own Quarry series "ended" with 2006's The Last Quarry, with The First Quarry coming two years later). With a final-chapter reference that ties back to I, the Jury, the series comes full circle in a satisfying way.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Where's the showmanship? A much better title for this novel would have been "Goliath!" instead of the just okay "The Goliath Bone". And that's really the problem with the novel, too: it's just okay. Not horrible by any means, but not great, either. Sequences at the beginning and end are laced with the trademark Mike Hammer suspense and violence (though the book's final sequence hinges on a million-to-one-shot piece of luck instead of Hammer's skill), but the middle section kind of meanders.

Did co-writer Max Allan Collins (who finished this book working from Mr. Spillane's notes and unfinished manuscript) resist sharpening things up with his own plotting contributions, preferring instead to give us a book that was as much of a purely Spillane story as possible? Perhaps. And, if so, maybe that was the right thing to do.

Other quick pros and cons? The pros include a couple of sexy scenes and lots of Mr. Hammer's general appreciation of the fairer sex ("respectful leering" is a good way to describe it). There's a nice sense of place as Mr. Hammer moves around New York City during the course of the case. And I liked the fascinating discussions between Hammer and Homicide Chief Pat Chambers about life in a post 9/11 world. Cons? Besides some of the slow pacing, there's way too much discussion of how old Hammer, Velda, and Pat are, how they aren't what they used to be, etc. It's gratifying that Spillane and Collins don't want to ignore the fact that Hammer has been at the game since the 1940's, but it became hard to suspend disbelief when we were constantly reminded that Hammer should be in a wheelchair by now!

Final verdict? In the end, if you like Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer, there's no reason not to pick this up. Temper your expectations and you'll likely find "The Goliath Bone" entertaining enough.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If you are an old Mike Hammer fan, this book is worth reading for nostalgia's sake, but that's the only reason. That mean, tough, lone warrior of the early books is gone. Here, he is an old man and complaining about it. The story is thin and slow. The action, such as it is, is mild until the very end. Obviously, Spillane was writing for his fans and putting Hammer to bed as a hero. I wish he had kept him young and smart and tough to the end. Oh, well. If you are not a Mike Hammer fan already, you will not become one with this book.
If you want to find the real Hammer, read "One Lonely Night."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I discovered Mike Hammer just recently. I read Mickey Spillane's "Dead Street" and wanted to read more from this legendary writer. So I picked up "The Mike Hammer Collection Vol.1."

In the days of old Mike Hammer was a hyper masculine warrior. He was the face and shadow of justice for the oppressed and the vindicator for the wronged. In "The Goliath Bone" Mike hammer seems more like he should be riding a rocking chair and sipping Ensure.

Mike starts out playing the guardian angel role but soon assigns those duties to some one else. Once he starts investigating the whole thing just simmers. Things never reach a good hard boil. Hammer just seems to coast through letting everybody else do ninety-percent of the work.

This book does have moments of joy. However, each one seems countered by a moment of languid dialogue or absurdity. As a huge fan of the early Mike Hammer books it was interesting to see how Hammer would age. However, it was disappointing to see he had turned in to grandpa.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The Goliath Bone, by Mickey Spillane with Max Allan Collins (280 pgs., 2008). Spillane died in August 2006. This is the second novel of his which has been published posthumously with the assistance of his long time friend & now collaborator, Max Allan Collins. It's superb!
This novel was left unfinished at the time of Spillane's death. Collins wrote the ending & some additional chapters, based on Spillane's notes & the rest of the story. This reader can't tell where Spillane's writing ends & Collins's writing begins. The transition is seamless.
This novel also marks the return of Mike Hammer. Mike finally has made plans to marry his long time lover & assistant, Velda. Those plans get thwarted when Hammer inadvertently protects two young university students from getting gunned down. Eventually, he is hired on as their bodyguard.
Spillane has taken Hammer & Velda into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with this tale. Apparently, the two students are stepbrother & stepsister who have accompanied their parents on a dig in Israel & discovered what is reputed to be the fossilized human remains of the arm-bone of the giant Goliath. This leads to all sorts of international intrigue with various governments getting involved along with various spies & big money & large multinational corporations.
Mike Hammer stands against them all. Alone, except for Velda & his old pal, NYPD Captain Pat Chambers. Of course, Hammer wins, the kids are saved, there is a twist ending one can barely guess at & Mike & Velda finally get married.
Collins is to be praised for his work on this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Mickey is gone now, but thanks to Max Allan Collins his novel is completed and, thus, immortal. It tells a very modern story about a very old relic--a battle between Israelis and Jihadists for the femur of the historical Goliath. The battleground is New York, not the Valley of Elah, but that is Mike Hammer's turf and Mickey does it justice. The story moves briskly; there is an actual mystery to be solved (which is solved in a satisfying though somewhat predictable way) and the characters are engaging. They're up in years now--Mike, Velda, and Pat Chambers--but that's appropriate and it contributes to the novel's ethos. It doesn't detract. What will detract for some is the language. Mike Hammer is Mike Hammer and he has aged. However, while he is aware of the manner in which the world has changed, his language remains locked in 1947 mode. Velda is still "Doll" or "Kitten", though Mike may be the last person on earth to use such expressions. That is a judgment call for the novelist to make. None of us want a Mike Hammer checking his blackberry or listening to Coldplay on his iPod. And we do want him to sound like Mike Hammer. But would Mike Hammer remain locked in time to the degree that his language is retro- while he has grown and changed and learned in other ways (so that he might continue to be able to survive and win). Readers will have to decide whether they find it jarring or deeply satisfying. Either way, Mike probably wouldn't care. That's why we like him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It has been some time since I last read Mickey Spillane and I was looking forward to meet Mike Hammer again. Well, I am much older but so was Mr Hammer. This story felt very much dated in a not very positive way and parts of it was really just plain silly. Mike Hammer has always been a tough guy but now he is more of a caricature of himself than the hard boiled PI that he used to be.

The Whole concept with finding the Goliath bone and possible political fall out from that is just ridiculous. If Goliath ever existed it was 1000 years before Islam and before the Arabs started their expansion and conquered large parts of the territory we now call the Arab world. To make this fictional incident of the Battle between David and Goliath to a thing that Al Qaida and Israel would fight over is very far fetched. Not to mention that it would be Mike Hammer that is the one realizing this!

Mike Hammer is walking around in this story and for some strange reason he thinks that he is the one most suited to protect a couple of young kids instead of almost anybody else that actually works with protecting VIPs. He also thinks that suddenly for unclear reasons he is the most important target for Al Qaida. Hammers discussions about the situation in the Middle East is something that belongs in a bar after many drinks but not in this book. Even more strange is the fact that Mike Hammer actually knows a world class archaeologist in California that he just can pick up the phone and order around. BTW, this archaeologist was digging in tar pits looking for dinosaur bones. That makes him a paleontologist and not an archaeologist.

Everyone in the book who meets Mike Hammer comments on him being old and should he not retire? Well, they are all correct. Just the simple fact that he has breaks in into his office and apartments and after checking if nothing has been stolen he sits down and talks with Velda about their plans without checking for listening devices shows that he is still a 1950:s guy.

I am happy for him that he finally got to marry Velda. Velda is probably able to outclass any modern sex goddess alive today even if she is close to 60. It has been a pleasure to meet her. That is why this book gets two stars instead of one.

There are still some Mike Hammer books coming out. If I understand this correctly they were written much earlier than "The Goliath Bone". I will check them out and hope to meet Mr Hammer in the shape that I remembered him from decades ago. Let the modern Mr Hammer rest in the sun in Florida with Velda. His Colt 45 is not working anymore so it is time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Mickey Spillane is (may he rest in peace) the greatest. I hope there are many more unplublished books by him. I have been a diehard Spillane fan since 1956. I know and appreciate the efforts of Max Allan Collins in putting this book together.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
There is NOTHING bigger than Goliath-Mike Hammer

Mickey Spilliane's last Mike Hammer novel was left uncomplete at the time of his death. Noted mystery author Max Allen Collins finished up this novel and we should all be beholding.

Two young adults find a bone belonging to Goliath of biblical days. It brings out many factions to get this bone back. Hammer gets involved protecting these young people and get in the middle of a hot bed of a mystery

What we have here is Mike Hammer's final case. Hammer shows his age, rather than being eternally young as he has been in the series of novels . He admits to wanting to retire with Velda. Spilliane's usually body count is lessen in this novel. He meshes modern day information with pulp sense of nostalgia. This is a modern mystery with old sense pulp novel earmark.

Under the audio hand of Stacy Keach (yes TV's Mike Hammer himself) , this capture the characters and well as a great story. Keach who is so familar as Hammer, a role he has played on and off for 20 years, that this text is more like comfort food for a mystery fan.

There are a few vocal slips, by on the whole... This is an audio treat for mystery fans and Hammer fans alike.

I wish the good people at Simon and Schuster audio would re-release the older Mike Hammer's audios read by Keach

Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
The last Mike Hammer book has it all! A plot with twists & turns
and some real evil villains!! Mike cleans up all the loose ends and finally
marries Velda!!
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