Review: The Delta Factor by Mickey Spillane

When I was looking for an image to swipe for my review of The Delta Factor by Mickey Spillane, I came across this review by Bill Crider (and I totally swiped the image). It does a good job of summing up the negatives, and some of the positives, of the novel to the point where I considered just e-mailing Mr. Crider and asking if I could cross-post it. If he said yes, it would have saved me the trouble of writing my own review. So if you’re interested in this post, go read that first.

While acknowledging that he’s dead on about the book’s many problems, I just plain liked it more than he did, and a lot more at that. Why? Well, one reason is stated in this comment over at Max Allan Collins’ site. (MAC completed the aborted sequel, The Consummata, which will be reviewed shortly):

I really enjoyed the Alexander Dumas-esque adventure quality of the book.

And I did too, very much. It took awhile (as with Dumas) for the good stuff to start, but once it did, it was really good stuff.

Spillane is always a frustrating read for me. For every element I like, there’s another I hate. Chief among those elements, dialogue that may make sense to the people involved, but makes no sense whatsoever to a reader as dumb as I apparently am:

“I made a mistake. It isn’t the X factor at all.”


“The delta factor,” she said.

“It’s all Greek to me,” I told her.

There was something in her expression I couldn’t quite read. “Delta,” she repeated, “the phallic symbol for a woman. The triangle. The personal little geometric design that identifies the female from the male. The eternal triangle.” She looked at me long and hard. “You and your damn broads.”

Slowly, the implication came to me. “Quit blowing smoke,” I said. “It’s all part of the job. Besides, what the hell do you care?”

It’s all Greek to me and the implication doesn’t come to me (other than, yes, Morgan loves tail), and yet Spillane named the book after this nonsensical passage. Nobody talks this way. The phallic symbol for a woman?

Add to that that the male lead keeps threatening to rape the female lead, and we’ve got a pretty good case study of the problems with Mickey Spillane.

And yet…

Morgan the Raider, who was supposed to have many adventures and sadly didn’t, is an intriguing character. The novel is written first person, but his motivations are never stated by Morgan, and only speculated upon by those he interacts with. It’s a neat device, and while by the end of the book I felt like I had a good idea of where he was coming from, I wasn’t entirely sure. I wanted to know more.

And the coincidences didn’t bother me as much as they bothered Mr. Crider, because the book opens with a whole bunch of them. Spillane clues us in from the start that this is just going to be a book with a lot of coincidences in it, so when they happen at they end, you’re prepared. Whether it’s a bridge too far or not will depend upon the reader, but I grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs so they didn’t terribly bother me. The opposite, actually–I found the last act, which includes both a daring raid and the book’s other many threads coming together, to be thrilling and fully satisfying.

So despite The Delta Factor‘s many flaws, I found myself eager to read The Consummata, and disappointed that that’s the end of the road for Morgan the Raider.

Posts in this series

Review: The Delta Factor by Mickey Spillane (this post)

Review: The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Movie review: The Delta Factor (1970)

Buy The Delta Factor by Mickey Spillane

Buy The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins