This famous 1947 potboiler by Mickey Spillane, one of Ayn Rand’s favorite writers, records the fictional hero, Mike Hammer, going from righteous outrage to revenge in a lively action story filled with sex and violence, a sure sell then and now. This book set the stage for a modern renaissance in the genre of violent action hero; Mike Hammer was the Dirty Harry or Rambo of his times.
I read this novel when I was thirteen, fifty-two years ago, and it shocked me so much that I’ve never forgotten it. I was reminded of the story of the murder of an innocent airline customer in Miami. This event also reminded me of the murder of an innocent subway customer in London. What is going on?
Mike Hammer was a licensed psychopath, a state approved private cop, and a self-approved judge, jury, and executioner. If he thought it was the right thing to do, then he did it. Is that any different from the state authorized killers today? And what does the state authorizing agency say? Cover it up, cover it up.
Are we surprised? I’m not. In recent history we have the murders at Kent State, Wounded Knee, Ruby Ridge, and Waco that should have told us something about our psychopathic state. Now we have it writ large in Iraq.
What can we do? Darned if I know. The District of Criminals has loosed the Hounds of Hell on us. It’s not safe to travel, and it’s not safe to stay home. If the Hammer decides you are a threat, you’re dead meat.
I wish I’d never read that book, but maybe it’s a good thing I did.