Is Mickey Spillane Worth Reading?

I just finished Survival Zero and I gotta say it was a relentless crapfest. My Christ what a terrible book!

Now, I like the hard-boiled PI type books - and I wanted to enjoy Spillane - but with this as an introduction I can’t say I’m champing at the bit to read more.

I’m giving him the benfit of the doubt and assuming this is much less than representative of him at his best - and so I come to you.

Is this him at the height of his powers or did I just catch a book from the tail-end of his decline?

What are his best books?

Any Spillane related trivia and anecdotes are welcome as well.



I read one as a boy, it was interesting but as an adult, nah, no way, it would insult my intelligence (take that as you will). James Bond was the same, must have damn near read the lot of them and watched the movies, but today, nah, or as you say “crapfest” for sure.

I was always amused by Ayn Rand’s comparison of Spillane with Thomas Wolfe, which is written of here:

The earliest five novels are worth it, if you can enjoy the “very nearly self-parodying” genre of literature. My Gun Is Quick is probably the best of them, at the least for its last two sentences.

It is junk food literature. Sometimes I just want to sit down and rot my brain.


Perfect review, not only of Spillane but of many genre writers. You’re reading for enjoyment aren’t you?

Definitely try *I, the Jury. *If you don’t like that, give up.

Sure, when I read Spillane.

Also for an insight into what was considered shocking back in the 40s and 50s. It is a counterpoint to real literature like Hammett and the Philip Marlowe books and stories.

Pulp fiction is like science fiction - some of it is as good as any other literature ever written. Some of it is just bug-eyed monsters and beautiful women and ray guns.

It is like a vacation to a world where all problems are simple, and the protagonist (like Mike Hammer) can just shoot and slug his way to the end. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is, and that is a kind of innocence that can be appealing. It is adolescent, no doubt about that, but there is a good big part of me that never grew out of my teens.