Mickey Spillane doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves. Some of this is understandable. Mike Hammer is a two-fisted anti-communist with little regard for modern sensibilities—then or now. But that doesn’t diminish Spillane’s stature as a writer. I can’t think of any other hardboiled writer who could write with such violence. I don’t just mean beating up punks. God knows, Hammer did plenty of that—and did it with gusto.
More than that, however, Spillane made better use of the first-person narrator than anyone since Raymond Chandler. And Hammer’s narration is a great propulsive violence. And this is what makes Spillane so different from Hammett, Chandler, Macdonald or any of the other great hardboiled scribes—and what secures his spot among them. Spillane is great because no one else could write the tough guy as he did.