Dead Street Review
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At the time of his death in 2006, legendary pulp writer (and creator of the gritty detective Mike Hammer) Mickey Spillane still had a few last novels that he was working to complete. And thanks to his friend Max Allen Collins and the pulp purveyors at Hard Case Crime, Spillane’s fans now have this fitting farewell to a much-loved author.

Spillane’s Dead Street tells a retired-cop story. After thirty years on the force, NYPD Captain Jack “Shooter” Stang decided it was time to retire. His old neighborhood was about to be torn down—along with his old station house—and it was time to move on. But just because Jack’s retired, it doesn’t mean he’s able to let go of The Job.

As he’s working to close down the old neighborhood, Jack has a visitor—a veterinarian from Staten Island named Thomas Brice. And he’s got a heck of a story for Jack.

Twenty years ago, Jack was in love with a girl named Bettie. They were even going to get married. But then Bettie was kidnapped and presumed dead—and Jack never saw or heard of her again. But Dr. Brice claims that he and his father found Bettie washed up on shore. She was blind—and she had no memory of what had happened—but they figured out who she was and took her in. They told no one—because they were afraid that the people who tried to kidnap her before would hurt her if they found out that she was still alive.

Now in her 40s, Bettie has been moved to a retirement community in Florida—one that’s inhabited by retired cops and firefighters. And there’s a house right next to Bettie’s—one that the Brices bought for Jack.

So Jack heads south to start a new life with his old love in Florida. But once he gets there, he fears that someone might still be looking for Bettie—even after all this time.

There’s something so perfectly fitting about an old pulp writer writing about a retired cop and his long-lost love (and a community full of retired cops)—and you couldn’t ask for a better old pulp writer than Spillane. His main character may not be as young and spry (not to mention trigger-happy) as he once was, back in his days on The Job, but he’s every bit as tough as he ever was. He’s a tough guy, but he’s a good guy. The likeable character—and his strong, suspenseful story—makes it a challenge to put this one down.

Even though the master himself died before finishing the book, Spillane passed on his notes to his friend, Max Allan Collins, who completed the last few chapters and prepared the book for publication. It’s clear that Collins knew Spillane—and his style—well, since the finished work is pretty much seamless.

Fans of Spillane and crime fiction fans alike will devour this pulpy page-turner. Dead Street is a tough, gritty novel—and, in the end, it’s every bit as satisfying as a hearty steak dinner.

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