Complex 90 by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

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Complex 90 by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Mike Hammer is back. Not only in novel form, but also from a recent foray into Soviet Russia where he escaped by killing over 40 men. Does that sound like the type of man you want to hire as a Private Investigator? Check out his blood soaked CV in Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins' 'Complex 90: A Mike Hammer Novel'
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 256 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Titan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780857689771

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If you ever decide to revisit the Film Noir genre of the 40s and 50s may I suggest ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, a pretty looney film about a shining briefcase and the maverick PI sent out to recover it. This Private Investigator was none other than Mike Hammer, star of a series of books written by Mickey Spillane. Unfortunately, Spillane is no longer with us, but before his death he gave some unfinished manuscripts to prolific crime writer Max Allan Collins. ‘Complex 90’ is the result of one of their collaborations and you may be glad to know that it is almost as insane as the movie.

‘Complex 90’ opens inside the Pentagon. Mike Hammer is under armed guard having escaped from behind the Iron Curtain taking out over 40 Russians whilst doing so. Sit back dear reader as Hammer describes what happened to him during his time in the East and what happened next as he becomes target number one on the KGB hit list as soon as he, once more, stepped on US soil.

If ‘Complex 90’ was to stand trial it would have to declare itself responsible of all crimes and take the blame for a few other infractions it did not even do. This book is that much of a guilty pleasure. Those expecting a hard-nosed and well-developed slice of crime noir have come to the wrong place. Spillane books have all the trappings of the genre, but he was always more interested in creating a shoot first, make a plot up second, school of writing and that continues here.

I am usually not a fan of a book opening up in the present and writing about the past. There is always something disappointing about knowing that a hero is going to survive, or how many people they took out. However, in the case of ‘Complex 90’ it works well. There is a real sense of joy in the action as Collins takes Spillane’s notes and writes a fun action thriller that leaves the PC brigade crying in its wake.

The bulk of the book is not actually set in Russia, but back in the USofA. Here things settle down into a more routine crime novel, but unfortunately not the best the genre has ever seen. Cold War thrillers can be a little simple for my liking; the lumbering boogieman that is Russia is an easy way to create a series of bad guys without actually developing any characters. That is certainly the case here as the story moves from action thrills to routine crime noir.

Despite its lack of intelligent insight into the criminal mind I was enjoying this pulp fiction a lot. Hammer is a very amusing character; misogynistic and a little crazy at times. However, even I was a little perturbed by some of the more adult scenes. Hammer is popular with the ladies; kind of like James Bond in a fedora and rumpled trench coat. He shoots men and beds women. I understand this vernacular within the world of pulp noir and am happy for it, but one scene in particular is beyond the pale. It is borderline hilarious in its shocking nature, feeling out of place in the rest of the book.

With this in mind ‘Complex 90’ goes from a book that crime fans will enjoy to having a guidance warning attached. If you have read other books in the pulp genre then there is nothing to worry you here. However, those new to the likes of Mike Hammer and the way of the gun may find proceedings a little too shocking.

If this book appeals then try Binary by Michael Crichton, The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins and The Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.

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Buy Complex 90 by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Complex 90 by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins at


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