Read: Quarry's Ex by Max Allan Collins, 2011, 9780857682864.
It's a shame Collins writes anything other than Quarry novels. I'd be happy if Quarry were all he wrote. Now that Westlake is gone Quarry is filling my need for the grit of the Parker novels.
Quarry is not a sociopath and is very difficult to understand. A sociopath is what you'd expect for a hired killer. Quarry just became so used to death as an infantryman that death is normal. Murder is an acceptable solution to problems. As Quarry says in several of the books, all his victims are already marked for death so why should it matter if Quarry does the work? What's one more in a daily, worldwide tally?
Quarry justifies and rationalizes his work. Most of his victims were mob-related and never squeaky clean so he can tell himself things are fine. (Things do catch up to him in Last Quarry though.) Does Quarry not understand what a dirtbag he is? That he is disgusting not just for his casual attitude to murder but that he willingly does it?
Plot: Quarry is still running through the list of hitmen he took from The Broker after killing him. Quarry will observe a hit man until the hit man takes a job. Quarry identifies the mark and approaches the mark with an offer to kill the killer and find the employer. For a fee.
It is 1980 and Quarry has followed a killer to a small Nevada town and found out that a movie director is the victim-to-be. Director is doing a biker flick in the desert. Quarry does his spiel and also finds his ex-wife - the murder of her boyfriend was the act that started Quarry on his career - is married to the director. Many emotions ensue. Quarry is torn. Quarry hates and loves his ex-wife. Quarry gets a blow job. Quarry kills the hit man. Quarry hangs around the movie set. Quarry figures some things out. Quarry bangs his ex-wife. Quarry figures everything out. Quarry kills a couple more guys. Quarry and his ex-wife part amicably.
1. More Hi-Power love.
2. More period detail love.
3. Blatant Tom Cruise reference. I mean, if I can figure it out it has to be blatant.
4. Page 142 has Quarry leaving the dead hit man and thinking, "Which truck me as pretty slick on the part of the late Nick Varnos, if some pretty cold-blooded shit. The world wouldn't miss this prick." Does Quarry realize he is talking about himself?
5. That's the thing about assassin novels. The lead needs to be likeable, and Quarry and Eisler's John Rain are, but they are scummy fucks. Just because someone like Quarry or Rain refuse to kill women and children does not make them noble.
6. Movie set lingo and description love.
7. Model 15 Combat Masterpiece love. I wouldn't mind having one of the 6" models but don't want one bad enough to pay for one.
8. Collins recently posted thoughts on readers who criticize the descriptive sex scenes in several of his books. I was wondering about the aftermath of one sex scene but Collins did not address the issue.