Mickey Spillane is known for on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrillers so get ready for some nail-biting action as you check out the best Mickey Spillane books that will have you holding your breath until the final page.
Born Frank Morrison Spillane, Mickey Spillane is known as one of the best crime thriller authors in American history. The author has sold over 225 million books and is especially well known for his Mike Hammer series (Spillane even portrayed the character he created on film). In addition to his Mike Hammer novels, Spillane is also known for his novels featuring Tiger Mann and Morgan the Raider. Suppose you’re looking to learn more about how to be a successful mystery novelist. In that case, you’re in the right place, you’ll probably also want to check our David Baldacci masterclass review to find the right support in your career journey.
As you check out Mickey Spillane’s novels, be sure to notice how well he paints pictures for readers — he’s the epitome of what it means for a writer to show, not tell, what’s happening in a story.
Here Are The 12 Best Mickey Spillane books
1. I, The Jury
Readers get to meet Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in I, The Jury, the first book of the ongoing detective series. Hammer is a WWII veteran working to avenge his best friend’s death. Throughout the novel, readers get to know Hammer as they see his determination to avenge the death of his friend, as well as watching him fall in love and become engaged.
Spillane brings the novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion as he finally realizes who murdered his friend — and decides what he will do about it. Readers walk away knowing that Hammer does what’s in the best interests of the people he cares about, no matter what it means for him or anyone else. If you’re searching for more thriller books to binge on a weekend, check out our list of the best Evan Hunter books. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.
“I don’t underrate the cops. But cops can’t break a guy’s arm to make him talk, and they can’t shove his teeth in with the muzzle of a.45 to remind him that you aren’t fooling. I do my own leg work, and there are a lot of guys who will tell me what I want to know because they know what I’ll do to them if they don’t.”Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury
2. Kill Me, Darling
At the start of this well-known Spillane novel, Kill Me, Darling, Mike Hammer’s long-time secretary, Velma, decides to hit the road, leaving Hammer beside himself as he figures out how to move forward. He’s not able to stay on his bender for long, however, as an old cop is murdered and Hammer dives into solving the mystery of what happened. Hammer realizes that Velma is connected to the murder and that he has to get to her before it’s too late. Join Hammer as he ventures to Miami to find his former partner before someone else does.
“Only it wasn’t rust. It was blood. Or anyway it had been. Now it was just a substance decomposed to its chemical make-up. Not so long ago it had been bright red and completely alive and the one who had carried it in his veins and had it pumping through his heart had been as big and as prominent as the stain he left by way of remembrance.”Mickey Spillane, Kill Me, Darling
3. Vengeance is Mine
In Vengeance is Mine, Mike Hammer wakes up near his friend, who seems to have committed suicide. Due to the odd circumstances of the situation, Hammer’s private investigator license is revoked. Per usual, Hammer becomes involved with a beautiful woman and a small-time criminal, and themes of blackmail are at work as Hammer begins to realize that the crime ring has something to do with the supposed “suicide” of his long-time friend.
“The guy was dead as hell. He lay on the floor in his pajamas with his brains scattered all over the rug and my gun was in his hand. I kept rubbing my face to wipe out the fuzz that clouded my mind but the cops wouldn’t let me. One would pull my hand away and shout a question at me that made my head ache even worse and another would slap me with a wet rag until I felt like I had been split wide open.”Mickey Spillane, Vengeance is Mine
4. Kiss Me, Deadly
Kiss Me, Deadly is a 1952 novel that was made into a 1955 feature film of the same name. In this Mike Hammer novel, the protagonist almost literally starts with a deadly bump in the road, as he nearly hits a woman who is hitchhiking. Together, the two drive to New York City, where they have a run-in with gangsters. The gang kills the woman, and Hammer is knocked unconscious and wakes in the hospital to the unfortunate news that his PI license has been revoked.
Spillane keeps readers on the hook as they watch Hammer work through what happened to the mystery woman.
“Somehow I had managed a sweeping curve around the babe. For a few seconds she had been living on stolen time because instead of getting out of the way she had tried to stay in the beam of the headlights. I sat there and let myself shake.”Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me, Deadly
5. My Gun is Quick
In My Gun Is Quick, the protagonist defends a prostitute later killed in a hit-and-run accident. Suddenly, a mystery is apparent — the prostitute’s ring (which was once stolen by Nazis) has gone missing. With the police captain, Hammer begins to figure out precisely what happened with the murder and the ring. Jewel smugglers and beautiful women keep readers engaged from the first page to the last word.
“He killed her and I made a mess of his head. Even the devil won’t recognize him now.”Mickey Spillane, My Gun Is Quick
6. The Consummata
Morgan the Raider stars in The Consummata, where he’s rescued by Cuban exiles who have recently been wronged out of $75,000. Morgan goes on a mission to get the money back to the people who saved his life but quickly finds that he’s killing one person after another to get to the bottom of things. He’s confused by one dead end after another and soon finds himself curious about the role the beautiful Consummata plays in solving the mystery.
“They were closing in. There were two up ahead, another pair behind me, and when I reached the corner the trap would snap shut… and only open again inside a maximum security prison where every contrivance devised by experts knowledgeable in the science of incarceration would be utilized to keep me there the rest of my life.”Mickey Spillane, The Consummata
7. Stand Up And Die!
Stand Up and Die! is a collection of stories that bring readers into Spillane’s world, where he employs his usual gangster and betrayal stories to engage readers. Watch as Spillane expertly explains how his protagonists narrowly escape murderers and captors, one smart decision at a time.
“The spot I had been watching for a few minutes moved and I knew it wasn’t a tree fungus. It took a minute more, I could see the length of rifle barrel. It was angled off, so they hadn’t located me fully yet. They needed a sound, or a movement, then all the guns I couldn’t see would swivel and zero in.”Mickey Spillane, Stand Up and Die!
8. Killer Mine
In Killer Mine, Lt. Joe Scanlon returns to his childhood home to investigate murders in his neighborhood. He’s partnered with a gorgeous female cop he knows from childhood, and together, the two work to solve the crimes that have taken over their once-happy home. Readers love the fast-paced yet dreary atmosphere of the novel.
“Up there, behind that darkened window, I had to kill myself. Up there I’d know what it would be like to lie dead, know the feeling and sight of featureless expression, the laxity of death. The gun in my pocket seemed to be too heavy, so I just took it out and crossed the street with it in my hand.”Mickey Spillane, Killer Mine
9. Hot Lead, Cold Justice
In Hot Lead, Cold Justice, Spillane’s hero, Caleb York’s deputy, is murdered, but York knows that they got the wrong guy — he was the one who was supposed to be gunned down. The men who were out for York believe that he was the one they killed, and they have no idea that York is still lurking in the shadows. York works to find the men who want to murder him — before they find York.
“York had too often been backed into corners by challengers who required him shooting… killing… his way out. So a while back, when a false story blew across the Southwest saying that Caleb York had been gunned down, he had embraced the lie.”Mickey Spillane, Hot Lead, Cold Justice
10. The Delta Factor
Morgan the Raider takes center stage in The Delta Factor, set on the Communist island Nuevo Cadiz during the Cold War. Morgan is in charge of getting a political prisoner out of prison. This isn’t a standard rescue, however, as the stakes are especially high for Morgan to get the job done right, and get out of the area alive. The catch is that if Morgan fails to lead another to freedom, he’ll be imprisoned. Spillane keeps his audience on the edge of their seats as they wonder whether Morgan will complete his mission or succumb to a life behind bars.
“I was out the door with the wooden gun in my hand and the single guy there who turned around languidly expecting the waiter almost choked on his own spit and before instinct could make him react I shook my head and said, ‘Don’t try it, old buddy. Just turn around.’”Mickey Spillane, The Delta Factor
11. Kill Me If You Can
In Kill Me If You Can, Mike Hammer is back and ready to hit the ground running as he tracks down the murderer of his old friend Packy Paragon. This novel was based on an old screenplay by Spillane and was dusted off by author Max Allan Collins. Readers enjoy the standard Hammer offerings, including corrupt outing officials, struggling with relationships, and getting through the day with the scent of booze on his breath. Looking for more crime thriller novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best PD James books of all time.
“I’d slept in this old brown suit the night before I came on duty, though here my bed had been the couch in the study with my .45 in my hand and in my lap. And I didn’t sleep deep. A man in a living nightmare doesn’t risk actual dreaming.”Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, Kill Me If You Can
12. The Last Stand
Aptly named, The Last Stand was Spillane’s final manuscript. The novel takes readers on a journey with a former cop searching for a political assassin. He finds himself dealing with FBI agents, a Native American tribe, and people who are out for cash — and faces death in the process. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best spy-thriller books!
“Daybreak found me in my office — a kill like this doesn’t allow you time to sleep. The report of the murder was on my desk and reading it took no time at all.”Mickey Spillane, The Last Stand