Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Wrong Quarry (Max Allan Collins, 2014)

New Quarry novel is always guaranteed fun but this time it was even more so after going through those two Izzo's books. Ridicullous as it sounds, but even silly shit like the one quoted below was hillarious after those 500+ pages of philosophy and food recipes:

I slid in across of her. "Hope you haven't been waiting long."
"Just long enough to order us a bottle of Chablis. I know you're not supposed to drink red wine with Italian food, but that shit gives me a headache."

*** warning - spoilers ahead! ***

But it's not very good I'm sorry to say, at least not comparing it to some of the other titles of the series. As usual, there are two parts: killing the assassins and discovering the mystery about who ordered the hit. First part is just too routinely executed. Both in the terms of the writing and Quarry's actions. A bit dull and not too imaginative. While this can be overlooked for the killing of the first assassin who is boring antiques dealer, it's very disappointing that asshole torturer's (a guy whose definition of Iron Maiden wasn't a heavy metal band) demise is so swift. Especially after some pretty cool built up to it. Also everything takes a bit long to take off.

Second - detective investigation type - part is a mixed bag. It has some good moments (I didn't see Sally's involvement coming at all) but overall it's pretty unconvincing. I mean, Quarry is just not a detective and I felt a little sorry for a guy walking around this small town pretending to be a newspaper reporter and asking some lame questions. Lowest point of the book is the entire 9th chapter in which our hero goes to a parent-teacher meeting where he interviews bunch of locals. Horrified to say this, but it almost felt like some AC's Poirot/Marple kind of crap...

But still, it's Quarry and it's fun and it's good to see that Mr. Collins still finds time for his amoral anti-hero.



Quarry, in this one he doesn't even use some other fake name.

Imaginary (I think) town Stockwell in Missouri that used to be "buggy whip capitol of America". Owned and ran by Stockwell family. We are back in the early 80s when "Reagan hadn't been president long enough for his senility to show (much), and everybody was hurting from the recessions."

Body count
4 in the present, 24 in the past

Mustang Sally - "Petite but curvy, the kind of cheerleader they reserve for the top of the pyramid." Jenny, a black sheep of Stockwell family - "One fucked-up dangerous damn piece of ass." [Fatale]

Quarry gets beaten by some jealous gigantic footballer (like Moose in the Archie comics, but cartoonier). But just before passing out he manages to kick him hard in the knee and wishing him "good luck with your scholarship, jackass!" Auch! Nasty, but nice one, Quarry ;)

Quarry is a manipulated a bit so his initial quarry is wrong one. No worries though, he makes things right at the end.

Another cool one by Max Phillips. It depicts a scene from the final shoot-out and it's pretty accurate although Mr. Phillips has allowed himself a bit of artistic freedom: Sally should be gagged by SM kind of ball gag and Quarry hadn't had time to draw his gun when he discovered her.

Cool lines:  
We were bonding now - he had said "shit" in front of me and everything.

"What do you mean, exactly... torture?"
I gave him few examples.
"Jesus Christ," he gasped.
"Actually, he did crucify a guy once. Priest who diddled a choir boy who was a mobster's nephew."

His face went white, or as white as the phony tan would allow.

Fifteen minutes passed and they couldn't have seemed longer at an art movie with no nude scenes.[The Coolest!]

"I can't argue with that. Wouldn't be the first time a shrewd killer got away with murder."
And I couldn't argue with that.


  1. Appreciate the review, thanks, but could you remove (or label) the spoiler in the fourth paragraph?

  2. Did put a label with the spoiler warning. But no worries, nobody really reads this blog :) I usually get around 10 visits per day and just write these "reviews" for my own amusement.

    But tell me, are you really THE Max Allan Collins?

  3. Yes, and I often post links to your reviews of my stuff, which I appreciate.

    I generally don't like to respond to reviews -- for so many reasons -- but I think you missed the point a few times this go-round. The build-up for the torturer was intentionally a letdown -- a gag essentially, that we're expecting the torturer to be this huge villain and he's just a guy Quarry smothers with a pillow. And Quarry is a detective in almost all of the novels, but his asides separate him, from say, Poirot, who would not think, "I really didn't give a damn who killed the girl -- I just wanted to get close to this guy so I could kill him." Although I admit to being a Christie fan. You might be interested to know that in every case the cover has been done first and I have done my best to include what it depicts in the novel. (I do think FIRST QUARRY had a cover that came after, come to think of it.) Thanks for attention.

    1. First of all, I cannot believe that you actually took your time to not only go through my text but also to write this interesting comment. I truly appreciate it and - as silly as it may sound - feel flattered.

      And yes, it's a bit embarrassing but it does look like I've missed that gag about the torturer. It's actually pretty cool when I think about it and I'm not saying this just to kiss your ass (I said "ass" but we are not bonding yet!). I'm still not 100% convinced about Quarry's detective skills/methods but let's not split hairs about those. He's still a cool guy and I don't really have any problems with him occasionally going to a parent-teacher meeting in order to earn ten grand.

      Thanks again and all the best with your work! Looking forward to the next Quarry and in the meantime I might even check out some Agatha Christie's book ;)

    2. It was my pleasure and I do appreciate the reviews. I don't always agree with you, but it's always a positive thing to have somebody smart out there reading the stuff. A lot of what I'm up to is black comedy -- that Quarry slits a guy's throat in the afternoon and goes to a parent-teacher conference in the evening. It amuses me and I hope amuses readers. Christie is actually a very tough-minded writer. I particularly like her post-war Poirot novels, like FIVE LITTLE PIGS and TAKEN AT THE FLOOD.