Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Done: "The Wrong Quarry" by Max Allan Collins

Done: The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins, 2014, 9781781162668.


Good news:  I scored a ARC from Collins off his blog.  Bad news: I finished the book and have to wait a few years for the next Quarry.  A significant problem with Quarry novels (and books from Crider, Gischler, Stella and a couple others) is that I want to save them for later.  I keep them in reserve knowing that I'll have something of high quality waiting. 

I rank the Quarry novels with Westlake's Parker novels.  The two series and characters share a few similarities of a lone criminal.  The most important difference between Parker and Quarry is that Parker is not human.  

I really enjoyed this novel.  Collins always moves things along and gives a lot of insight into Quarry: Horndog Professional Killer.  And Quarry is professional.  He takes pride in his efficiency, skill, and planning.  He believes in honesty to his client, even in a "profession" as honor-less as murder.

Spoilers await so go no further. 

It's 1983 (or so) and Quarry is still making a living by following hit men, discovering the killer's target, and telling the target Quarry can solve the problem, for a fee.  This time Quarry follows an antique shop owner, who moonlights in murder, to east central Missouri.  Quarry tails the antique dealer/killer and figures the guy is casing a local dance instructor.  Quarry meets a woman in a bar, Quarry gets a blowjob by the same woman next to the garbage cans behind the bar.  Quarry spies the second killer's arrival.  Quarry informs the mark and makes monetary mediation.  Things happen.

The dance instructor is suspected of murdering a missing high school girl who was the instructor's star pupil and Miss Teen Missouri contestant.  Quarry figures the girl's family as the money minding the murder. Quarry pretends to be a journalist to start digging for info and identify who hired the killers.  Quarry offs the two contract killers.  Quarry's dick diving dumpster dame is the missing girl's aunt.  Quarry wonders if the aunt is setting Quarry up.  Quarry starts to get feelings for Aunt.  Quarry definitely has boner feelings for the dance instructor's latest Teen Protege.

Quarry has lots of sex.  Quarry does not like the mess of killing with knives.  Quarry drives a Pinto.  Quarry drinks more Coke.  Quarry sizes up all women by their sexual seductiveness and spot on the  seducibility scale. Quarry gets things figured.  Quarry finds out the dance instructor not only killed the missing girl but is a serial killer.  Quarry acts.  Quarry has been played by the Teen Protege.  Quarry wins out and drives off saying, "Fucking amateurs."

Comments:1. Gratuitous Reed Farrell.  Missing the Coleman.
2.  Browning love.
3.  Midwest setting love.
4.  Coke and Diet Coke love.
5.  While reading I wondered if Aunt involved in the missing girl's death.  Maybe she was jealous of her father's affection for the granddaughter over the daughter.
6.  Solid story all around with a very satisfying ending.
7.  I was a little surprised that Quarry did not kill the Grandfather of missing girl.  He had made a contract agreement with Dance Instructor.  I expected him to honor the agreement and then kill Instructor.  Well, Quarry is not that professional I suppose.  He's not as extreme on his agreements like Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.
8.  Quarry is always a bit of a mystery.  How can he do the work he does?  Ever since he was recruited to be a killer he has always thought his victims are already dead.  Whether Quarry or someone else does the killing the person will die.  So, why shouldn't Quarry get paid to do what the government trained him to do?
9.  Quarry is clearly queered from combat.  His values are all screwed up.
10.  Collins does very good work in sharpening his characters within a scant 215 pages.

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