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Authors: Mickey Spillane

Don't Look Behind You

BOOK: Don't Look Behind You
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Contents

Cover

More Mike Hammer from Titan Books

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Co-Author’s Note

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

A Tip of the Porkpie

About the Authors

Mike Hammer Novels

Also Available from Titan Books

MORE MIKE HAMMER FROM TITAN BOOKS

Lady, Go Die!

Complex 90

King of the Weeds

Kill Me, Darling

Murder Never Knocks: A Mike Hammer Novel
Print edition ISBN: 9781783291342
E-book edition ISBN: 9781783291373

Published by Titan Books
A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd
144 Southwark St, London SE1 0UP

First edition: March 2016

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins assert the moral right to be identified as the authors of this work.

Copyright © 2016 Mickey Spillane Publishing, LLC

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

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For my writer pal

STEVE MERTZ

whose love for Mickey’s work
rivals my own.

CO-AUTHOR’S NOTE

Shortly before his death, Mike Hammer’s creator Mickey Spillane paid me an incredible honor. He asked me to complete the Hammer novel that he currently had in progress—
The Goliath Bone
—and then told his wife Jane to gather all of the other unfinished, unpublished material and give it to me: “Max will know what to do.”

These manuscripts, surprising in number, spanned Mickey’s entire career from the late ’40s until his passing in 2006. Six manuscripts were substantial, usually 100 pages or more, with plot and character notes and sometimes roughed-out final chapters. Most of the books had been announced by Mickey’s publisher at various times from the 1950s through the ’90s. As a Spillane/Hammer fan since my early teens, I am delighted to finally see these long-promised books lined up on a shelf next to the thirteen Hammer novels published by Mickey in his lifetime.

In addition to the substantial novel manuscripts mentioned above, a number of shorter Mike Hammer manuscripts were uncovered in the treasure hunt conducted by Jane Spillane, my wife Barb and me, ranging over three offices in Mickey’s South Carolina home. Some of these were fragments of a few pages, primarily the openings of never-written novels or stories; these I have been gradually turning into short stories with an eventual collection in mind. Others were more substantial if less so than the six novel manuscripts, and—although they vary in particulars—these shorter manuscripts represent significant unfinished entries in the most popular American mystery series of the twentieth century.

I am now in the process of completing at least three of these shorter Hammer novels-in-progress;
Murder Never Knocks
is the second of these (the first,
Kill Me, Darling
, appeared in 2015). Mickey had completed several chapters but also left behind extensive plot and character notes, as well as a draft of the novel’s ending. Mike Hammer’s creator often said that he wrote the ending first. Of the unfinished manuscripts in Mickey’s files,
Murder Never Knocks
is one of the few that back up that assertion.

The alternate title,
Don’t Look Behind You
, is partly a tribute by Mickey to his favorite mystery writer, Fredric Brown, who wrote a famous short story of that name. Mickey’s other alternate titles were
The Controlled Kill
and
The Controller
.

Internal evidence in the narrative indicates Mickey began this novel in 1966 or 1967, before or after
The Body Lovers
(1967), and that is the time frame I’ve employed.

M.A.C.

CHAPTER ONE

He just stood there looking at me, the silenced, foreign-made automatic pointed at my chest, the key he had used in the door still in the fingers of his left hand until he gently dropped it in his pocket. I hadn’t heard him at all. He was already framed in the doorway when I noticed him. But then, he was the kind you didn’t notice.

Eight stories down, on the streets of New York, there were thousands like him, quiet people, utterly uncommanding souls who could pass unnoticed anywhere. They could be next to you on the sidewalk, or maybe behind you, without being seen, and speaking without being heard. Their faces and their actions would never be remembered except vaguely at best. Just part of the crowd.

That made him anonymous. It also pegged him a pro. Because such unremarkable people make the best killers.

This one might have been a lower level drone from Wall Street—nice gray topcoat but off the rack, a darker gray trilby hat, gray complexion, too. The only thing that stood out were the black-rimmed glasses on his narrow soft-jawed face, and the eyes behind them were gray, too.

His voice was a soft monotone, but there was something off in it. “Mike Hammer. In person. In the flesh. Hard to believe.”

What was that something in his voice? Sarcasm? No. Respect? Or… awe? It was like he’d spotted his favorite movie star across a room, or was taking in the Grand Canyon or maybe Mount Rushmore.

He did have a tinge of surprise tightening his eyes. That was probably because he hadn’t expected to find me in the outer office, right there in front of him, big as life, ready for death. Velda, who wasn’t just my secretary but the other licensed P.I. at Michael Hammer Investigations, had left just before five for an urgent appointment.

I’d hung around to take a phone call from the West Coast, and was on my way out when I noticed a stack of afternoon mail on her desk. I perched on the edge of it, lit up a Lucky, and started thumbing through the envelopes. He’d come in and found me like that.

Casual as hell, I tossed the mail on the blotter and half-turned on my roost, took a drag from the butt and put it down in the ashtray. I gave him an easy grin, nothing nasty in it at all.

“Why hard to believe?” I asked. “I’m not tough to find.”

A tiny smile. Damn, the teeth were gray, too.

“You’re a tough man to find
alone
, Mr. Hammer. And when you are, you’re on the move.” The gun was steady as he shook his head, his smile slight but regretful. “Pity it has to be like this.”

“To what do I owe this honor?”

“I have no idea why.”

“You have an idea who, then? Anybody I know?”

He shook his head, his eyes never leaving mine. The automatic snout with its silencer, either. “Nobody
I
even know.”

“So it’s a contract job.”

He nodded once. “A very lucrative one, Mr. Hammer. Not just anyone was deemed up to it. But I have to admit, I almost regret having to fulfill it.”

“And why is that?”

His eyebrows went up a touch. “You may find this hard to believe, but some people on my side of this business… well, a good number of us look up to you. How many kills have you racked up by now, Mr. Hammer?”

“Who’s counting?”

The unremarkable face gave up a whole gray smile now. “And to think I won’t even get any credit for it.” His shrug was barely perceptible. “Nature of the business. Back in the day, take out the likes of Mike Hammer, you’d be a big man. Imagine taking out Billy the Kid or Jesse James, and no one ever knew? But the world operates differently now, doesn’t it?”

I picked up the butt, took another deep drag, and put it back in the tray again. “You’re being pretty careless about this thing, aren’t you? Shouldn’t I be dead by now?”

The smile lingered. “You’re not going anywhere. Would you like to know how I managed this?”

“Sure.”

“I rented an office down the hall a month ago. That gave me freedom of the building. I wanted to observe your, ah… routine. Your habits. Your patterns.” He saw my eyes touch his pocket. “The key is a copy of the superintendent’s master. Tonight was the first time your secretary didn’t double-lock your door when she left, you know.”

I shrugged. “Guess she was in a hurry. Everybody screws up now and then.”

This time there was a touch of pathos in the smile. “With all due respect, Mr. Hammer, some of us don’t.”

My hand drifted toward the cigarette in the ashtray, but the cig went flying in a shower of sparks when I flung the glass object at him with a sharpness that sent it sailing edge first right into his forehead, stunning him just as his finger was tightening on the trigger. In that same second, my right hand was drawing the .45 from its shoulder holster and firing back at him as I hit the deck, his bullet kissing a pock in the plaster behind and above me. His shot and mine were so close together, they might been one report.

But there’d be no more gunfire from my caller.

I got to my feet and had a look at him. The .45 slug had gone in clean mid-chest but delivered a fat sloppy wad of the gray man’s colorful insides to splash and glop and slide bloodily down the wall behind where he lay crumpled under it, just inside the door. He looked up at me, eyes trying to blink death away. But that wasn’t going to happen—not with his chest a tired beach ball, slowly deflating.

The glaze hadn’t reached his eyes yet, so I’m pretty sure he could still hear me.

“I told you, buddy,” I said. “Sooner or later, everybody screws up.”

* * *

I had to take the hinges off the doors so they could go through the routine of seeing the body before anyone touched it. Lots of pics, lots of prints. They impounded my gun, inspected my license and took my statement while they photographed the corpse, then ushered me out when they took the guy away in a rubber body bag, neither one of us the captain of our own ship in this instance.

When we reached headquarters, the desk sergeant nodded to the detectives flanking me and said, “Chambers doesn’t want to see him just yet. But keep him handy.”

They dumped me on a bench outside the door that read
Captain Patrick Chambers, Homicide Division
, and somebody offered me coffee that I turned down. Instead I made the bench my hard little bed, dropped my hat down over my face and had a snooze. Killing that guy hadn’t taken it out of me, but waiting around while the cops and techs treated my office like a crime scene had been a damn drain.

Somebody shook me awake, lifting the hat off my face, and it was Pat in his shirtsleeves, his tie loose as a noose awaiting a customer. I saw a tiredness that made me think maybe the hard line cop had finally mellowed out of him. Then the gray-blue eyes focused on me and I knew it hadn’t.

“Up and at ’em, boy.”

BOOK: Don't Look Behind You
11.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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