Disclaimer: Yes, Mr. FTC Guy, it's true. This was a free book. It wasn't a review copy, however. I won it in a Twitter drawing. Not that it matters. I subscribe to the Hard Case Crime line, so each new book that comes out is charged to my credit card and mailed right to my home. That's right. Even though I got this one for free, I'll be receiving my paid-for copy in a short time. Besides, I've been a fan of the Quarry series right from the start, and I still have my four Berkley editions of those early novels to prove it. Not only that, I know Max Allan Collins. I've met and talked to him at numerous conventions over the years, and one of my Quarry novels, the one dedicated to Mickey Spillane, is signed by both Collins and Spillane.
Geez. After all that, my review might be shorter than the disclaimer.
Faithful readers of this blog, as I'm sure all of you are, will recall that Collins has done two earlier books in this series for Hard Case, The First Quarry and The Last Quarry (I thought I'd reviewed that one, but I guess not). So it's only natural that this one is Quarry in the Middle, though that's also a kind of joke, considering the plot.
The time is the 1980s. Quarry's not working for the Broker but is free-lancing by using the Broker's list. He's warning potential victims that they're about to be erased and offering to erase the eraser. For a fee, of course. That's how he winds up in Haydee's Port, Illinois, and gets involved with a casino owner named Richard Cornell, who's the target of a hit. Soon enough, Quarry finds himself the target of another casino owner, and you're thinking Yojimbo, which is just fine, because that's what Collins was thinking, too (see this interview for confirmation). Things don't work out exactly according to plan, but Quarry's a hard man to kill.
There's sex, violence, humor, and plenty of little twists before you get to the end of Quarry in the Middle, and the end comes very quickly because, as usual in this series, you've got a real page-turner. You'll probably read it in one or two sittings.
Max Allan Collins has had a lot of success. He's written books, graphic novels, screenplays, music, and who knows what else. And it's all good. The Quarry novels, however, remain my favorite reading of all his work, and I hope he can be tempted to do another one.