Sunday, December 18, 2016

Everybody's Watching Me - Mickey Spillane

Her face seemed to laugh at me. A curious laugh. A bewildering laugh. There was a sparkling dance to her eyes she kept half veiled and her mouth parted just a little bit. He tongue touched the tip of her teeth, withdrew and she said, "Now is the time for something else, Joe. Now is for a woman going back a long time who sees somebody she could have loved then."

I looked at her and held my breath. She was so completely beautiful and I didn't want to make a fool of myself. Not yet.

"Now is the time for you to kiss me, Joe," she said.

I tasted her.

MANHUNT, April 1953
I don't have the original issued of MANHUNT that this short novel by Mickey Spillane first appeared in. I wish I did though. Just about every story I've read that was originally printed in MANHUNT I've enjoyed. Sadly, I was born too late. I wish that someone would maybe anthologize stories from MANHUNT in single collections, the way they do WEIRD TALES, or ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. Maybe one day. Or even better, make the original issues available on Kindle.

I got the opportunity to read this story in PULP MASTERS, edited by Ed Gorman and Marting H. Greenberg. If you find this collection I recommend picking it up. It's got short novels by John D. MacDonald, James M. Cain, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake and Harry Whittington that originally appeared in Men's magazines or digests. All very good and entertaining stories.

I wouldn't rank "Everybody's Watching Me" by Mickey Spillane as one of my favorites. There is plenty of action and bad guys and a hot dame named Helen Troy in it, but there were long passages of dialog that through me a bit, and some pages of filler. Also, I think Spillane was hemmed in a bit by trying to tell the story of a gang war strictly from Joe Boyle's perspective. Often to the point of having the plot progress via awkward scenes of Joe eavesdropping on talky bad guys.

As a simple tale of revenge it's a good one, though. Joe Boyle delivers a note to chief badguy Mike Renzo, telling him that he's gonna find his guts all over the floor for killing a gambler named Cooley. The note is signed by someone named Vetter. Vetter is a shadowy assassin for hire who's been icing various mobsters in different cities. No one knows who Vetter is or what he looks like. Renzo decides to have our hero Joe Boyle followed so that he could finger the mysterious Vetter. Along the way Joy Boyle hooks up with Helen Troy, a chanteuse of sorts for Renzo's nightclub. He also gets tangled up with the cops who would also like to get their mitts on Vetter, preferably after he puts Renzo on ice. Two birds with one stone, kind of thing.

Lots of beatings and shootings ensue, which make it vintage Spillane. Boyle and Helen also get torqued up for each other at various times in the story, until the finale when the shit all hits the fan and the bad guys scream like dames. The surprise ending isn't really a surprise if you've read enough Mickey Spillane, but it's still fun getting there. This would have made a pretty cool late night noir movie from the 50's.

No comments:

Post a Comment