In his "Afterword" for Quarry's Vote, Max Allan Collins says that the Quarry books "sank like a stone" on their original publication. While that may be true, they did not go unnoticed by some of us who were already fans of Collins' work and who eagerly grabbed up Quarry's accounts of his adventures as soon as they were published by Berkley Books. I just checked, and my copies of those first four books still sit comfortably on my shelves. I thought the series had ended with the fourth book in 1977, but ten years later a fifth one showed up, this time in hardcovers. It was titled Primary Target, so naturally I had to have it. I still have that one, too, of course. Then, nearly twenty years later, Collins wrote a new Quarry novel for Hard Case Crime, and the series took on new life. The new books were successful, Quarry's got his own TV series on Cinemax, and the first five Quarry novels have been returned to print by Hard Case Crime. One of those is Quarry's Vote, which is actually Primary Target with a new title. Hardly a forgotten book, but I'm counting it because of the title change and because the book has been out of print for so long.
In fact, Primary Target has been out of print for so long that I didn't remember what it was about until I started to read it again, and then I remembered a good bit of it. It's an excellent entry in the series that finds Quarry married, settled down, and more or less happy, a bit surprised that he's living a "normal" life. When a man who knows more about him than he should shows up and offers Quarry a million-dollar contract, Quarry turns him down. Not just because he's happy and settled but also because the contract is on a man running for president, and Quarry knows that after the contract was fulfilled, he'd become a loose end. We all know what happens to loose ends.
What Quarry, having been out of the game for a while, forgets is that even if he turns the contract down, he becomes a loose end. His wife is killed, and though Quarry kills the killers, he wants to get the people who set things in motion. And we're off to the races.
As in all the Quarry novels, the pacing is excellent, there's humor, and the story has several satisfying twists before it gets to the end. Along the way Collins gets to comment a bit on politics and politicians, and you can be excused if you think some of the things he says remind you a little of the present day situation. This is another fine entry in the Quarry series, and it's great to have it back in print.