The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins
|The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: Quarry, the hitman with little heart, returns in this hardboiled noir crime novel. He sets out to help a small town dance instructor with a price on their head, but ends up deeper than he imagined. With guns, killers and girls on the loose, Quarry might just be in his element.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: January 2014|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
To create a true anti-hero is no easy task. I have read plenty of crime fiction that reports to have an unlikable son of a gun at the centre of the story, but rarely are they actually that bad. You might get a detective with a gruff exterior, but a kind heart. Or perhaps a career criminal whose sense of morals are actually better than the cops. Thank goodness then for Max Allan Collin’s Quarry novels. Old school murder mysteries that have a hitman at their heart (usually pointing his gun at it).
Quarry returns in ‘The Wrong Quarry’. Since dispatching his broker, Quarry has been hunting down other hired killers. This is not as lucrative a business as his previous employment, so he gets the potential victims to pay him to save their lives. This time it is a small town dance instructor who has got on the wrong side of the richest family in the area. Can Quarry find the hitmen before they find their victim? And will be discover who exactly hired them?
There is something enjoyably chauvinistic about Quarry that just about works. Collins is not an author who softens the edges of his characters and seeing that this is hardboiled crime; fans would want nothing less. Narrated from the perspective of Quarry, ‘The Wrong Quarry’ tells the story of a morally bankrupt man who likes women and does not mind killing if the price is right. In lesser hands the characters could be hideous – and in places Quarry is, but Collins imbues him with a knowing that gives the character far more dimensions.
At no point does Quarry apologise for what he is. He explains to the reader what business he is in and the types of things that he gets up to. This does mean that the book should be avoided by the more sensitive reader; there is certainly more than one violent death and a few scenes of a sexual nature. In the heightened world of pulp noir I would expect no more and Collins strikes just the right tone of cool apathy and hi-octane action.
The plot itself is straight forward, but fun. Quarry is actually a pretty decent detective, uncovering who hired the hitmen. At times it does feel a little linear, almost as if the plot is a series of scenes linking together liaisons with various women. Despite its simple nature, there is an intriguing mystery on offer for those that like more crime in their pulp. The conclusion is not as obviously as it could have been and some people are bound to be caught out (although seasoned readers of the genre will probably be ahead of the game).
Is ‘The Wrong Quarry’ for you? It depends entirely on your love of pulp crime fiction with a hardboiled feel. The book is set during the 80s and is very evocative of that period, bringing a 50s noir feel to big hair and bad fashion. If you like wisecracking and slightly dislikeable people to dispatch even worse people, you will love Quarry. However, if you are more into characterisation and the nuances between the sexes, this is a book to avoid. My advice would be; don’t be a wally and query Quarry – just go with the flow and enjoy this great slice of pulp fiction.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins at Amazon.com.
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