Release date: February 5, 2019 **Note– This book was first published in 1975 and is a re-release!**
If you keep up with my blog and my reading lists, you will note that I’ve read one of Donald E. Westlake’s books and reviewed it here before. If you’re interested in hard case crime novels, as I sometimes am, you should check him out.
But, being that this novel was written quite some time ago, a reader must understand that the language and the story itself is very much a product of its time. For example, in the second chapter of Brothers Keepers, there is a small section where a monk is writing a letter to Miss Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times. There are many starts and stops to the letter, but the letter itself is set up in a style in which not many younger people today might recognize with a name and address in the left corner, date in the right, and a formal letter following. I was taught how to write a business letter in high school, but a lot of schools aren’t teaching this skill today and it’s becoming lost in translation with email writing as a preferred method of conveyance and text messaging coming in a close second. Obviously, it takes on a second to figure out what’s going on, but the difference in the times might come as somewhat of an amusement to some and makes this story even more fun to read.
A world without cell phones and internet in every device? How novel.
Mostly, Brothers Keepers is a timeless story. The monks themselves are all very well written and their attitudes toward their home being scheduled for destruction in order to make way for modern growth within their city are well portrayed. Westlake’s writing–and the humor within–is absolutely delightful as usual. Whatever feelings and anxieties over a dire situation the monastery went through in the story can easily be translated into the issues and goings on of today. The story and characters will resonate well with a newer generation and likely generations to come.
Mike Hammer steals a ride on a train upstate to Killington. But he is welcomed by a nasty surprise: he is accused by police of raping and murdering a young woman near the freight yards. Roughed up by the cops and facing a murder charge, Hammer’s future looks bleak. Only a beautiful blonde, Melba Charles–daughter of powerful Senator Charles–might possibly save him… if he pays the price.
But why would Melba help save a man she has never met? And, more to the point, where is the real murderer?
From a brittle, brown manuscript, the first Mike Hammer novel–begun by Mickey Spillane in the mid-forties and completed seventy years later by Max Allan Collins–is a gift to mystery fans on the occasion of the noir master’s 100th birthday.
I’ve read from this series before, and I wasn’t blown away then, nor was I blown away now. I didn’t hate the story, but I just felt like it was more of the same old stuff. There was nothing in this book to stand out from what was in the last. That isn’t to say that someone who has been following these books wouldn’t like them–they’re really just not for me.
I will point out, however, that the writing is strong and the voice behind the book is definitely pronounced. Those who have been following the books will certainly enjoy them. Where hard case crime goes, I’m generally a hit or miss kinda reader. Unfortunately, I believe the Mickey Spillane/Max Allan Collins books are a miss for me–but only by a hair. I feel like something is missing.