Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Last Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 2006)

To be honest, this is just a junk. Well written but junk nevertheless. In afterword Collins mentions he wrote it as a kind of favor to Hard Case Crime‘s editor Charles Ardai after he had promised him Robert McGinnis for a cover illustration. But I think he simply had nothing to do so out of boredom decided to bring alive his most famous hero.

It does starts promising. We get to refresh our knowledge of Quarry’s story and his current situation. Which is not very exiting one because he is employed as keeper of some holiday resort. And since it’s off season time, inn is empty and the only thing Quarry needs to fight is insomnia. That quickly changes when he accidentally gets involved into kidnapping of some rich brat. And so by the end of the fifth chapter we have two dead kidnappers and one free rich brat. And Quarry gets a contract by her ass-hole rich father.

So far so good, stage is prepared for some real action now. But unfortunately we need to wait quite a while to get some. Because instead of shifting into higher gear everything just falls flat. Story doesn’t move anywhere, no new characters or sub-plots are introduced and we must basically endure the process of Quarry’s falling (you know – in romantic kind of way) for his target. It’s pathetic and almost embarrassing at times. Looks like Mr. Collins had similar opinion so he just finished everything quickly with some ridiculous shoot-out massacre and “surprising” twist.

Writing is poor, probably intentionally to give it more pulpy feeling. Its strong point are witty dialogues, but there are just too many unnecessary “fucks” and moronic machismo-isms about women (plus some mandatory gay “jokes”), sex and violence. Latter is especially cartoonish: he beats some bad ass marine guy like he’s a fucking kid and in already mentioned shoot-out bad guys are disposed as easily as clay pigeons:
  1. the guy took it in his head
  2. with the headstone as a cover, I took out the two closest ones
  3. I took the nearest to me when he slipped his head out to take aim
  4. He had almost made it to cover when my shot caught him in the side of the head
  5. He, too, took a bullet in the head and fell backward
 See what I mean? No wonder why they were such great pals with Spillane.

In all fairness it’s not that bad; it’s just that I expected more after reading Quarry in the Middle. It’s probably perfect reading when you’re on the plane. So here’s a good tip for your next travel, it will make waiting in airport queues easier and you won’t pay much attention to turbulence.



Hitman Quarry. But for the purposes of this narrative, however, we’ll say my real name is Jack Keller.

Hard to tell. Again Quarry is pretty secretive in order to keep his identity hidden. But he does drop us a hint: “Sylvan Lake, somewhere in Minnesota, only it’s not called Sylvan Lake and maybe it’s not Minnesota, either.” So go figure! Action then moves to some small city named Homewood which I did manage to locate on the Google maps – it’s 30 miles south of Chicago. 

And the year is most probably 2005 because “Janet was still advertising Kerry/Edwards 2004” with her car’s bumper stickers.

Body count
2………no, nothing …………still nothing (2 fucks though)………… one more fuck ………… 1+1….. 6+1 = grand total of 11 (+ 3 fucks)

Janet the librarian and her sister Julie

Pretty accurate. On two occasions he peeps at the girl through the window but he wears a beard (shaved off later, so maybe that confused the artist). Second time he doesn't have a gun, but a girl actually wears “pinkish excuse for a bra”. Illustrated by famous Robert McGinnis but this one I think was also made quickly and without much paying attention to the details. Let’s say it’s okay but not great.

Cool lines:
He answered with another question: “Do you have any reservations about taking out a woman?”
“I take women out all the time.”
“Not the way I mean.”
I smiled just a little. “Are you sure?”

“Julie has a potential. She has fire. Spirit. She’s just … going through a phase.”
I nodded toward the hole in the ground. “So is your other daughter – it’s called a decomposition.

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