Monday, May 09, 2016


Max Allan Collins
Hard Case Crime
237 pages

This is one series we came in late on, not having been aware of Max Collins’ hitman Quarry until Hard Case Crime convinced him to bring the character out of mothballs for one more tale; “The Last Quarry” in 2015.  We were hooked instantly and obviously not alone in our appreciation as the publisher continued releasing new Quarry tales.  By this time Collins had long since established himself as one of the premier mystery writers in the country. This was due in large part to his historical Nathan Heller crime novels and his posthumous collaborations with late Mickey Spillane in which Collins completed many unfinished Mike Hammer mysteries.

And still, despite these truly wonderful books, Quarry, in our opinion, is Collins’ most successful series.  A fact now bolstered by the forthcoming TV series being produced for the cable outfit, Cinemax.  In lieu of its premier, Hard Case Crime is reprinting the original Quarry novels first released in late 70s and early 80s.  “Quarry’s Vote,” first published in 1987 as “Primary Target,” is one of these.

As the story opens, Quarry has quit the killing game, married and settled down.  He’s also about to become a father for the first time.  One day, while his wife is away, he is visited by a stranger wanting to hire him to assassinate a radical political figure running in the current presidential race.  Quarry is offered the sum of one million dollars to take the job; the largest such payment he’d ever been offered.  Still, because of the contentment he’s finally found in his life, he turns the job down.  Days later he feels anxious about his decision, beginning to worry that his turning down the hit will have dangerous repercussions.  Tragically his haunting premonitions become reality and everything he held dear is taken from him in an act of cruel savagery. 

Having the survived this attempt on his life, Quarry sets out to find those who have targeted him and wreak his own brand of retribution.  Pulled back into his life as an agent of death, he sets about proving that his years away haven’t dulled his skills in the slightest.  He is the embodiment of the relentless Reaper and woe to those who find themselves in his path of bloody vengeance.

“Quarry’s Vote,” is Collins as his best, delivering a top notched thriller with a dark, twisted lacing of black satirical humor that weaves itself through his depiction of modern politicos from both sides of the aisles.  And it’s returning in this particular year of such a outlandish presidential contest couldn’t be more fitting.  We’re only too happy to cast our own vote for this Quarry ticket.  As you should be.

1 comment:

Glen Davis said...

To my mind, this is typical of Collins's 80's work, where he tries to talk about politics, but really doesn't know what he's talking about. He also does this in his Max Heller series, and the Wild Dog comic book series at about the same time.

This is Collins's biggest flaw as a writer. He's a baby boomer who saw The Big Chill way too many times, and actually thinks that's reality. He's never quite accepted that it isn't 1972 anymore.