Best Adventures of 1951 (2)

By: Joshua Glenn
July 6, 2016

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1951 adventure novels. Happy 65th anniversary!



Mickey Spillane’s crime adventure One Lonely Night.

Private eye Mike Hammer, a WWII vet suffering from what we’d now diagnose as PTSD (and sociopathy), has just been acquitted of murder — it was self-defense, and the guy had it coming. Walking home from the trial, he gets caught up in an assassination attempt… kills the killer… discovers that he’s a Communist Party hitman… and decides to smash New York’s Communist conspiracy. He meets a beautiful heiress, who’s raising money for the Commies to spite her father. Meanwhile, the criminally insane brother of an up-and-coming politician running on an anti-corruption platform needs to be stopped before he kills again. Are the two plots connected? It’s a bit confusing, to be honest. But Spillane is fun to read, because he writes noir at its most grim, twisted, and hopeless. “So I was mad. I was a killer and I was looking forward to killing again. I wanted them all, every one of them from bottom to top… even if I had to go to the Kremlin to do it.”

Fun fact: The politician in the novel was inspired by Henry A. Wallace, who left the Democratic Party in 1948 to run unsuccessfully as the nominee of the Progressive Party.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1951 adventures that you particularly admire.