Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Quarry stalks more prey
Sharp, fast, and fun, Quarry's Ex features Max Allan Collins' ex-hitman character- now a type of investigator, bodyguard, and counter hitman- this time hiring himself out to a low-budget film director targeted for termination by parties unknown. The director purchases Quarry's deluxe package, meaning our hero will eliminate the hitmen stalking the director AND identify and neutralize whoever hired them.
I use the term "hero" in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Though Quarry (aka "Jack", with no last name given to the reader) is not a hitman himself anymore, Collins doesn't set up bogus situations where 1) the only people Quarry now kills are murderous scum, or 2) Quarry is only killing in self defense (two of the scenarios embraced by lesser writers to make sure their "bad boy" characters don't appear too bad). Nope, while Quarry certainly doesn't kill Girl Scouts or little old ladies, some of the kills he performs in the service of his current assignments are a little wince-inducing (I'm thinking of a scene in the current book involving a car tire). And yet, he still remains likable. That's good writing.
The initial five or six Quarry books chronicle Quarry's, or "Jack's", career from its earliest days to its conclusion. The most recent entries, including this one, are basically untold stories that take place at various points during that career. This time out, as well as enjoying the story of the film director and whoever is stalking him, we also get to see Jack meet up with the wife (now "ex", hence the book's title) who had, at least in Jack's mind, a central role in his becoming a hitman in the first place way back when. In fact, maybe Quarry's ex-wife is somehow involved in the director's predicament, as she's now married to him.
Oh, and if you're curious how Quarry's hitman and counter-hitman career wound to a close, you'll have to read The Last Quarry, because I won't reveal things here. But feel free to read Quarry's Ex first. All the Quarry books, with their heady mix of mystery, action, sex, and violence, are self-contained gems that are guaranteed to happily take you away for a few hours.
Quarry's Ex is available on Kindle for $7.69.