By Max Allan Collins
Cover art by Gregory Manchess
Hard Case Crime, September 2011
How best to describe Quarry, the series character of a number of novels by Max Allan Collins, this one the latest?
Well, once he was a hitman but now, at the beginning of the 1980s – and in a poacher turned gamekeeper kind of way – he has morphed into a very proactive protection officer. Not only does he safeguard the target of a hit – here, a film director specialising in straight-to-video movies who also happens to be married to his ex-wife. No, he also aims to take out the guy who is aiming to take out the guy he’s protecting. (That last sentence does make perfect sense; read it through again if you don’t believe me.) As an added service, and for a further fee, Quarry will even go after the guy who ordered the hit – and that’s when the fun really begins.
And another thing, the source of further fun: the novel is written in the first person, from Quarry’s point of view, and our hero has a rather jaundiced, though some would say well-founded, view of the world and the human animal that inhabits it; and he makes a lot of jokes, some would say smirks, at humanity’s expense.
It is an amusing, fast-paced novel and if your notion of perfect pulp fiction involves guys with deadly weapons gunning for each other, you’re sure to enjoy it. The suspense is maintained right up to the final pages and there are some unusual twists and surprising reveals along the way – involving sexuality, for one thing. What you have in essence is a satisfying whodunit, albeit an unusual one. Here the mystery to be solved is: ‘Who ordered the hit?’
Oh, and Quarry eventually manages to put certain matters in his troubled past to bed, and that in more ways than one (nod, nod; wink, wink). A good one.
The publisher’s description of the book can be read here.