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Encore for Murder (The New Adventures of…

Encore for Murder (The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer,…

by Mickey Spillane

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[This was from back in 2013, but for some reason I never posted my review anywhere other than my blog.]

Encore for Murder is a noir thriller that is, from my understanding, based on Mickey Spillane's notes for an unwritten novel. I had never read/listened to anything by Mickey Spillane before, but the audio sample sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot.

The story: Mike Hammer is hired to act as Rita Vance's bodyguard. Rita, a old flame of Hammer's, is making an acting comeback and has been receiving death threats. Hammer sticks close by her, but Rita doesn't seem to be taking the situation seriously. Then things get a little more complicated, Rita disappears, and Hammer has to find and rescue her.

This did not turn out to be a good pick for me. The best thing I can say is that the story was sort of interesting and I enjoyed the full-cast, radio drama feel of it. Otherwise, though, I kind of hated Mike Hammer.

I don't think I've read a lot of noir fiction at all, nor watched many noir movies. It may just be that the genre isn't for me. Although some attempts were made to update this story (mentions of cell phones, the sex offender registry, and the reluctance of restaurants to serve meat cooked rare), it still felt pretty old school. Nearly every woman Hammer encountered was an enormous flirt – the only exception was maybe Velda, Hammer's secretary and partner, but even she had moments when she acted liked Hammer's girlfriend-in-waiting.

I might just have rolled my eyes at Hammer's very male gaze when it came to women, until I got to the torture scene.Rita was tied naked to a chair and was being threatened with a blow torch. I was a little uncomfortable with some of the almost sexual phrasing used in this scene, such as the description of the blowtorch as “a terrible flame ready to lick her flesh.” Also, post-torture, there was this from Hammer: “I've had a better time with a naked woman.” His lover had been stripped naked, beaten, and almost burned, and his first thought after rescuing her was about sex? Eww. Just eww. Other than feeling a little shaky, Rita barely seemed affected her own kidnapping and torture, which bothered me, too.

Prior to listening to this, I checked out a few reviews and noticed at least one mention of Hammer killing a lot of people. I read and listen to a lot of things with violence in them, so I just noted this and moved on. He really does kill a lot of people, though, and sometimes he kills them very violently. If I remember correctly, at one point he almost decapitated a guy with a car trunk door. I think it was his reaction, or non-reaction, to killing people that bothered me the most. At least one of the other characters even commented on the amount of killing he did, and he just brushed them off.

It was short and most of the acting was okay, but if this is what Mike Hammer stories are generally like, they are very much not for me. It's funny, I can root for and even kind of like characters like Jeff Lindsay's Dexter, and yet Mike Hammer just made me feel kind of icky. Maybe it's because Dexter makes it very clear that he is a sociopath, while Hammer seems to have zero recognition of the fact that some of the things he does are not okay?

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Feb 14, 2016 |
Mike Hammer is a private investigator whose sense of justice is predicated less on the letter of the law than the spirit of the law. Bordering on vigilantism, Hammer's actions are backed up by an ethos born of Post-War morality and by a Colt .45 named "Betsy." Max Allan Collins has updated the time line to make Hammer a Vietnam veteran; and the story takes place in present day New York City; but Hammer comes across as something of a relic of a bygone age and as someone who neither understands nor respects due process or authority. Hammer, whose intractable sense of right and wrong and belief that the end justifies the means, exacts a rough justice for those who stand in his way.

In "Encore for Murder," Rita Vance, an ex-girlfriend of Mike Hammer's, needs a bodyguard. Making an acting comeback by starring in a Broadway show, she has been targeted with a series of threatening and anonymous letters. Mike Hammer agrees to protect her out of a sense of chivalry and because he has the sexual drive and control of an adolescent. It's difficult to imagine the universal sex appeal that Spillane and Collins imbue Mike Hammer with, as the brand of machismo that Hammer wears is about as dated as his sense of justice and the Fedora he sports.

The sex and violence are blunt and even vulgar in places, not in what is being described but in how they are described. The crudity of the prose and sentiments combine to make some scenes cringe-worthy.

Stacy Keach played the role of Hammer in the 1980s television series and returns as Hammer in the audio dramas. Keach has superseded other versions of Hammer in the public eye and has invested much of his talent in successfully preserving the legacy. As such, he is Mike Hammer and the perfect casting choice for The New Adventures.

There is a different set of expectations going into The New Adventures, production-wise, than for other audio dramas. The New Adventures take more from the playbook of radio dramas instead of trying to create a virtual soundtrack of the story. The Foley and voice enhancements are rather ham-fisted in comparison; but match the prose's style and writing manner well.

Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: Vol. 3: Encore for Murder; 04/12/2012 ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mickey Spillaneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, Max AllanAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keach, StacyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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