Brain Garfield wrote Death Wish in 1972 and then worked on the screenplay of a movie of the same name. Released in 1974 it gave Charles Bronson a new impetus in his acting career; playing the vigilante, out to find and kill those responsible for murdering his wife.
Some 25 years earlier in 1947 Mickey Spillane’s first Mike Hammer book was published. Where someone sets out to take the law into their own hands. An extension of the USA tradition of crime fiction based on private investigators. It speaks of a time just after the Second World War, Hammer’s best friend is cold bloodily murdered by a shot to his gut. Jack was an old war buddy who amongst other things saved Mike’s life and was his best friend.
In a moment of pure passion he promises to find the killer before the police led by his buddy Pat track him down. Jack’s killer has foregone the right of his time in court. Mike will find him before due process and metre out his own justice with a shot to his stomach and avenge Jack’s murder.
This is how Hammer as a PI will be written in his future outings. In a role where he is quiet happy to dispense judgement in any of his cases. Yet this was just his first case, but that trait seemingly struck a chord with the fans of this new series. In Hammer they found a new hero and so why would the writer change this approach.
However, let us not forget the controversy that Death Wish creates just a quarter of a century later. About the justification of vigilante responses and the dangers of combatting violence with violence. Respect then to this book with such bold ideas where we meet the main protagonist as such a man.
He is the judge, jury and executioner of Jack’s killer and even Pat uses the press to publish Mike’s speech of vengeance hoping it will flush the killer out.
Reader’s new to Spillane and the backdrop to his writing of Hammer must understand it was a different time. Still caught up in the deaths and killing endured at the end of that conflict. Men like Hammer were tough at a time when guns ruled in New York. They were also sexist in language and descriptions of women our male centred cliches and sex is implied if not graphically described. However, Velda is a counter-balance even in this age, almost a modern woman too in some respects although she seemingly carries a torch for her boss. Some of the best aspects of the novel are her interactions with Hammer as much as Mike and Pat’s meetings.
The story is one of a race to catch a killer with Mike and Pat working together and mostly sharing information.
I love the whole crime narrative and procedures of police enquiries some 70 years ago.
This is the book that helped me become drawn to such books since my teenage years.
As I matured into my twenties that love of this genre developed further and left me with a love of reading.
In this book’s favour was an 80’s film where this story was adapted. I thought it was over sensationalised at the time and I felt it reflected it’s own time at the movie’s release in 1983 and not a faithful adaptation. Especially when I encountered full frontal nudity on screen for the first time.
Having re-read this novel I realise it was always in the book and makes me appreciate further Spillane’s writing ability in this postwar period.
This isn’t a sex and violence story though; it is about friendship. Abuse of power and trafficking, drugs and crime syndicates. However, Hammer’s struggle to outwit the cops is thwarted at every turn as suspects and people who may hold the key to the motive for Jack’s murder are themselves killed before they fully disclose what they know.
Hope you love this book too and read deep into this excellent series.
I, the Jury Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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©1991 Mickey Spillane. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
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|Listening Length||5 hours and 28 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||28 July 2015|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank||
13,179 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
1,004 in Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
5,174 in Mysteries (Books)
4.1 out of 5
178 global ratings
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Start of a vintage, classic PI seriesReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 April 2018
3 people found this helpful
A good readReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 October 2019
Old fashioned and written with 'New York speak' which I'm not a lover of. However, I remember the TV series (many tears ago) and enjoyed them, so tried the book. Good story giving the reader a glimpse of a hardened private detective with a vulnerable emotional side to him. A short story worth a read. -
author of one of the best crime novels ever ('Last Seen Wearing')Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 September 2017
Revolting book, full of crude sexism and gratuitous, graphic violence. I only bought it because Hillary Waugh, author of one of the best crime novels ever ('Last Seen Wearing'), featured it in his reading list. After two chapters I returned it for a refund. Read Chandler instead.
2 people found this helpful
Good enough bookReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2020
Easy simple read-total rubbish-but will read more by MS.