Yes, I know it's not even April yet, but thanks to those amazing purveyors of hardboiled pulp over at Hard Case Crime, I already know at least two things I'll be groveling for, come November: the Hard Case paperbacks of Max Allan Collins' Deadly Beloved and Mickey Spillane's Dead Street.
Of course, HCC's got a lot of great stuff coming out before then, too. In fact, 2007 looks to be their best year yet from where I'm standing, with Gil Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin next month, David Goodis' The Wounded And The Slain coming out in May, George Axelrod's Blackmailer in June, and Richard Aleas' (HCC founder Charles Ardai) second John Blake private eye novel Songs of Innocence in July... etc. etc.
But it's the Collins and Spillane books that have me the most excited.
November's Dead Street is the first posthumous Spillane novel, edited and prepared for publication by Max Collins.
As a guy who considers himself a fan of and friend to both of those fine gentlemen by virtue of having worked with them for a couple of years on the mid-90's comic book series, Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger, I'm eager to get my grubby mitts on this novel. There are no crime fiction writers I admire and enjoy more than Spillane, and from the sample chapter on the HCC website, Dead Street looks to be something special.
As for December's Deadly Beloved – well, it's a book I've been waiting for since the early 1980s. You see, that's when Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty introduced the world to Ms. Michael Tree, comics' longest-running private eye character. I won't claim to have picked up her very first appearances in the B&W Eclipse Monthly magazine, but when she got her own color comic, Ms. Tree's Thrilling Detective Mysteries, I was there. And I faithfully followed her through four publishers and more than a decade of groundbreaking comic book thrillers.
Well, now, after teasing fans with a couple of short stories over the years, Collins has finally written a Ms. Tree novel, and it's Deadly Beloved. Beatty has provided a gorgeous cover painting, and I'm desperately hoping to find the book in my Christmas stocking.
After all, isn't that what the holiday season is all about? Murder, mayhem, mystery, Ms. Tree and... Mickey Spillane?