I think The Goliath Bone and The Big Bang, the first two Mike Hammer novels begun by Mickey Spillane and completed after his passing by Max Allan Collins, with Spillane's blessing, are two of the best Hammer novels I've read. I'm sorry I never got around to writing more on them.
"The Goliath Bone" was intended as the final Hammer story and bookends nicely with the first novel, I, the Jury. "The Big Bang" is a crazy, in the best sense, groovy lost '60s novel that Spillane put aside.
So, I was very excited to get a copy of Kiss Her Goodbye, the lost '70s novel that Collins completed. Not only had I thoroughly enjoyed the previous novels, the lack of a '70s Hammer novel seems an odd hole. It seems like Hammer belonged in the '70s somewhere, perhaps in part because I grew up with the Stacy Keach version of Hammer that was only a small step removed from the '70s.
"Kiss Her Goodbye" takes place between 1970's Survival... Zero! and 1989's The Killing Man. Exactly where, I'm not sure. The events of "Survival... Zero!" are referred to as a year previous, seeming to set it in the early '70s and yet a variety of other details including "Club 52", which I can only interpret as a (too obvious) analog for Studio 54, seemed to set it in the Disco era of the late '70s.
I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed this one more on a single lazy Sunday afternoon or up late with the audiobook, again read by Keach, as I did with The Big Bang. I suspect those kinds of sniggling details would have drifted past me with little to no notice.
But I didn't have that luxury right now. I read it mostly one chapter at a time, as my busy schedule permitted, and those kinds of things did creep up and bother me. It was more than a compelling enough read to keep me coming back for the next, but ultimately it was my least favorite of these new books. The mystery wasn't as intriguing as I'd hope, despite its complexity, and the cast of supporting characters weren't as interesting, not to mention the solution seemed a bit rushed to me.
That said, I do certainly hope Collins continues to update these manuscripts and publishers keep publishing them, because somehow I'm comforted knowing that Hammer lives on even after Spillane's passing, and I'm still finding these enjoyable.