Monday, June 23, 2008

Survival... Zero, by Mickey Spillane

(pb; 1970)

When Mike Hammer's childhood friend, Lipton "Lippy" Sullivan, is gutted with a switchblade in his ghetto apartment, Hammer investigates why. Lippy, an all-around nice guy, didn't seem to have an enemy in the world: so why was he killed in such a nasty way?

The scope of Hammer's investigation quickly expands when other, lesser-known facets of Lippy's life become known, and a strange death on the subway -- the stiff appears to have been poisoned by nerve gas -- become incorporated into Hammer's investigative efforts. Once again, Velda (Hammer's street-savvy girlfriend) and Pat Chambers (Hammer's longtime police Captain friend) are along for the tough-guy ride, as well as new characters -- Woody Ballinger (a powerful local gangster), Heidi Anders (a heroin-hooked actress), William Dorn (a big-shot businessman) and Renee Talmage (Dorn's business associate-secretary).

Explosive, slick, and chock full of sex and violence, the stakes are higher than ever as Hammer runs down Lippy's killer, and other bad guys. The ending is action-packed and deliciously sadistic.

Highly recommended, this, as are other Hammer thrillers.

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