A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor:


MICKEY SPILLANE – Day of the Guns.

E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1964. Signet D2643, paperback, April 1965. [Several later printings.]

   Properly overshadowed by Mike Hammer, espionage agent Tiger Mann is the hero of Mickey Spillane’s only other series of mystery novels. Mann remains a pale shadow of the mighty Mike, a Bond-era reworking of the Hammer formula; but the first of the series has considered merit.

   Tiger Mann is employed by an espionage organization funded by ultraright-wing billionaire Martin Grady, of self-professed altruistic, patriotic purposes. Chatting with a Broadway columnist in a nightclub, Tiger spots a beautiful woman who strikingly resembles a Nazi spy named Rondine who attempted to kill him years before.

   Though he loved Rondine, Tiger has sworn to kill her should he encounter her again. The woman, Edith Caine, professes not to be Rondine, but Tiger refuses to believe her and sets out to learn what she is up to. Soon he is battling a Communist conspiracy, and in a striptease finale that purposely evokes and invokes the classic conclusion of I, the Jury, Tiger must face the naked truth about Rondine.


   Day of the Guns is a fast-moving and fine example of Spillane’s mature craftsmanship; he has great fun doing twists on himself, as the conclusion of the novel shows. But this book – and, particularly, later Tiger Mann entries – lacks the conviction of the Hammer novels.

   Tiger Mann is Mike Hammer in secret-agent drag: His style and world are Hammer’s; despite mentions of faraway places, the action is confined to New York. But while Hammer is an antiorganization man, Tiger, for all his lone-wolf posturing, is a company man. This goes against the Spillane grain.

   The three other Tiger Mann novels are Bloody Sunrise (1965), The Death Dealers (1965), and The By-Pass Control (1966). Each declines in quality.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.