Best 1947 Adventures (9)
June 13, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1947 adventure novels. Happy 70th anniversary!
Mickey Spillane’s crime adventure I, The Jury.
This is the first of thirteen popular Mike Hammer stories by Spillane, a comic-book writer who knocked off his debut novel in 19 days. Hammer, a brutally violent New York private eye, is a rabidly anti-communist veteran of jungle warfare; he prefigures alt-right vigilante characters of later decades. In this convoluted story, Hammer’s war buddy — he lost his arm saving Hammer’s life — is murdered, and Hammer’s investigation leads him to suspect his buddy’s fiancée’s psychiatrist. Who is a beautiful young woman — is she also part of a crime syndicate? Does she manipulate her patients into heroin addiction, then extort money from them? And who is Hal Kines — one of the psychiatrist’s college students, or an arch-criminal who has had his face altered in order to pass as a much younger man? Also, will Hammer turn the psychiatrist over to the police — or just kill her?
Fun fact: I, The Jury was graphically sexual and violent, for the time; it sold 6.5 million copies in the US alone. In “All The Way,” the first episode of the sitcom Happy Days, Potsie gives Richie a copy of the book to study before his date with a girl with “a reputation.”
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1947 adventures that you particularly admire.