Friday, September 11, 2009

Finished: "The First Quarry" by Max Allan Collins

Finished: The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins, 2008, 9780843959659.

This may be the first Collins novel I have read. It is quite good. According to the bib. on Collins website he started the Quarry series in 1976. Collins did only a few Quarry novels before a long hiatus.

Quarry is a Vietnam Veteran and former sniper recruited by The Broker in 1970 to be a hired killer. Quarry's first assignment is to murder a college professor in Iowa City that same December. (Unfortunately I am unable to come up with any good wisecracks against the Hawkeyes.)

Quarry starts a surveillance on the prof and waits for a time to kill him and destroy a manuscript. The prof is busy either banging or advising co-eds and grad students and Quarry has trouble finding a good time to do the job. Quarry has to worry about a co-ed's ex-boyfriend reappearing. Quarry gets shaken down by a PI who is shadowing the prof for the prof's wife who is preparing a divorce case. Quarry kills the PI. Quarry stands in for the PI and fucks the prof's wife. Quarry follows a female grad student to insure she will not come back when prof is getting offed. Grad student is mobster's daughter. Grad student gets kidnapped. Quarry rescues her by murdering both kidnappers. Quarry fucks grad student. Quarry figures out the student's mob father is the client. Quarry gets into prof's house and destroys document. Prof's wife shows up right after prof does and murder-suicide ensues. Mobster comes to town to check on daughter. Quarry kills the mobster to avoid future trouble with mobster.


1- There were several anachronisms in the story. I could be easily wrong of course, since I was not born until 1971, but comments about plastic signs saying "wet floor" and wheelchair ramps outside a store were jarring.
2- Lee Goldberg had that comment about tie-ins and the quality authors who pen them. This is not a tie-in but Collins just did a tie-in novel for the G.I. Joe movie. A part of my instant dislike of tie-ins is that an author must have the plot and characters dictated to him, right? When you're given a piece of crap film and have to novelize it you're already pushed into a corner. I'd like to read one of those books to find out how Collins - or others - handle the situation. Original novels with tie-in characters must give a lot more room for creativity; like taking Monk to Germany and Paris.
2b- What kind of restrictions and rules does a tie-in author have to follow? I checked-in several Hannah Montana books yesterday and got to wondering what publishers require; for those YA and J novels there must be a bullet list like for romance novels.
3- Are there some hidden writer jokes in here about the Writer's Workshop?
4- Quarry is a great character. I'm glad Collins has two other recent Quarry novels plus the movie.


Lee Goldberg said...

To find out more about tie-ins, and the restrictions writers have to work under when writing an "original" or a "novelization," check out the articles section at

Gerard Saylor said...


Gerard Saylor said...

Tie-writers and their work are often overlooked and under-appreciated by existing organizations like the Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, and the Romance Writers of America, even though some of their most respected members work in the field. Tie-ins represent a huge percentage of the books published each year, they are enormously successful and are widely enjoyed by readers.