Friday, October 17, 2008

The First Quarry -- Max Allan Collins

It's hard for me to believe this, but I've been reading Max Allan Collins' books about Quarry, a professional hit man, for more than 30 years, starting with The Broker back in the late '70s. Collins is so prolific now that it's hard for me to keep up with all his novels. It seems as if he publishes one a month, except for those months when he publishes two. But I'd never miss a Quarry book.

Even after all those years, I still didn't know exactly how Quarry got started in his unusual profession. Now, thanks to Hard Case Crime, I do. Back from the war in Viet Nam, Quarry kills his wife's lover and soon finds himself hooked up with the Broker and working his first commission. He's hired to kill a college professor who's having an affair with one of his students (at the moment; he's had plenty of affairs before). Things don't go smoothly, but Quarry is a fine improviser, impressing both the reader and his client with his ability to handle unexpected complications, which include the professor's wife, a kidnapping, a private-eye, and maybe a couple I'm forgetting.

Collins can write short, nasty, and tough. Hard Case publishes short, nasty, and tough. A marriage made in heaven. I believe The First Quarry is the fourth time they've teamed up. I hope it's not the last.

1 comment:

Brent McKee said...

Have to confess I'm more of a fan of another of Max Allan Collins's series, the Nate Heller stories. Would love to have a story where Heller meets another one time "back of the yards" boy named Bill Paley, but doubt that it would ever be possible.