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King of the weeds by Mickey Spillane
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King of the weeds (2014)

by Mickey Spillane

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2014’s King of The Weeds is an excellent entry in the Hammer series and I highly recommend it. In it, Hammer, who is a New York City private eye in the requisite trenchcoat and always packing his ancient .45, is in his latter years. He is in his sixties now, having been pals with Police Captain Pat Chambers for forty years and having been engaged to the knockout Velda, also his secretary, for decades, one of the truly greatest romances in paperback history. Hammer believes in justice. He believes in right and wrong, but he doesn’t always wait for the law and the press to sort it out. He is quick with his gun and often singlehandedly takes on bad guys and the mob.

There are two interconnected stories winding their way through this novel. In one, someone just confessed to being a serial killer and the man who Pat Chambers put away forty years ago, making his career, is being released and the wrongful imprisonment lawsuit that is coming threatens to destroy Chambers’ legacy and reputation. In the other story, which at first seems a little far-fetched, but actually works here, it seems that all the dons of the five families were nervous about the new generation coming up so they took their vast fortunes and hid it in paper form (meaning boxes and boxes of bills), adding up to $89 billion. Dooley, who was a war buddy of Hammer and Chambers, worked as a gardener for the last of the dons and hid the cash in a mountain in the Adirondacks, but tricked the don and hid it someplace the don wasn’t looking. Like the old-time pirates who buried treasure in the carribean, the mafia underbosses tommy-gunned all the men who hid the money in the mountain, leaving their corpses to rot there. Dooley, who is the only one left who knows the secret location, dies in a mob shootout and Hammer is the last to talk to him. The result being that there are elements of the mob and the Treasury Department who believe Hammer knows the secret.

With these two stories proceeding (even if one of them is a little bit hokey), the book is written so well that it just reels the reader in, beginning with a gunfight in just the first few pages that leaves Hammer with two gunshots to his chest: “Both shots pounded into my chest right at the heart region and I hit the carpet with my breath hissing through my teeth as the killer got on the elevator, his back to me, and the door snicked shut.” There, reader be forewarned, Hammer novels are not cozy mysteries, they are renowned for violence, often coming from Hammer’s own hands, but not always.
Even though Hammer and Velda have been dating for decades, she is still described in terms that make her the ultimate ageless beauty: “This was a woman, a beautiful woman, who could make men decades her junior stop and stare.” She was “statuesque, raven-haired, with a shoulder-brushing page boy that thumbed its nose at changing fashion, and a body that made a silk beige blouse and brown knee- length skirt seem provocative.” But, she is no fashion model. Originally, his secretary, she is just as deadly a private eye as Hammer is, but there is no mistaking the affection between them even as they get their monthly AARP newsletters. She is often portrayed as sitting on his lap and he calls her “Doll” or “Kitten.”

Here, Hammer is an old, battle-scarred warrior with a reputation for violence that precedes him. He is a bit slower on the draw and in constant pain from old wounds. It is a great portrayal of a timeless character.

This book may be among the best of the new Hammer novels and is well worth a read. ( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mickey Spillaneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, Max AllanAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857684671, Hardcover)

Hammer finds himself up against a clever serial killer targeting only cops. A killer his old friend Captain Pat Chambers had put away many years ago is suddenly freed on new, seemingly indisputable evidence, and Hammer wonders if this seemingly placid, very odd old man might somehow be engineering cop killings that all seem to be either accidental or by natural causes. At the same time Hammer and Velda are dealing with the fallout – some of it mob, some of it federal government – over the $89 billion dollar cache the detective is (rightly) suspected of finding not long ago. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:36 -0400)

When a murderer his old friend Captain Pat Chambers put away years earlier is freed on new evidence, Mike Hammer and Velda begin investigating an outbreak of suspicious police deaths.

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