Where does Spillane stop and Collins start?: A job for the style detective and some questions for readers
The Consummata is not a typical collaboration. Mickey Spillane began the book as a sequel to a novel of his that had appeared in 1967, and he gave the unfinished manuscript to Max Allan Collins years later. Collins then completed the novel, which finally appeared under the Hard Case Crime imprint in 2011.
I don't know how complete the book was when Spillane handed it over, and I don't know what changes Collins made over the many years it was in his custody. But I detected a few small stylistic changes in the novel's climactic section that could suggest a different hand at work, or perhaps the same hand many years later. This was mostly a matter of repetition of words, one in particular, and a mildly political jab I fancy likelier to have come from the liberal Collins than the right-wing Spillane. Some of the wit in the section is also slyer than what I associate with Spillane, more a wink than a hearty clap between shoulder blades.
(My favorite sentence in the novel, however, does not figure in this discussion: "He conked his head on the porcelain edge of the crapper.")
Have you ever read a collaboration between two authors? Have you ever tried to guess which author wrote what? What is likely to make you attribute a given passage to one rather than the other? Tone? Prose style? Something else?
© Peter Rozovsky 2015