The Wrong Quarry


The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins, Quarry #11

A HIT. AND A MISS.

Quarry doesn't kill just anybody these days. He restricts himself to targeting other hitmen, availing his marked-for-death clients of two services: eliminating the killers sent after them, and finding out who hired them…and then removing that problem as well.

So far he's rid of the world of nobody who would be missed. But this time he finds himself zeroing in on the grieving family of a missing cheerleader. Does the hitman's hitman have the wrong quarry in his sights?


After almost a two year break, Max Allan Collins returns with his acclaimed Quarry series. I haven’t read the 10 books prior to this eleventh volume, but I have been slowly getting acquainted with the Hard Case Crime division run  by Titan Books, so far the books have been non-stop thrilling rides, the stories are divers but all have one thing in common, the pulpy 40, 50, 60’s feel. They are fairly short read but that is what makes them readily approachable. You don’t have to dig in but you can just pick one up, but I warn you. You will be wanting to read this book in one go. I had some reservations when I picked up The Wrong Quarry, with already 10  books into the series I was hoping that I wouldn’t miss anything essential from the earlier books. It might be that I am missing some parts of the protagonist, but The Wrong Quarry features nicely as a standalone adventure.

In the beginning of the The Wrong Quarry you get a brief capture of how Quarry’s life came to be and what he is now doing. The thing that I liked most the idea of Quarry and the Hard Case Crime “idea” is that these aren’t your typical crime solving books. Quarry is someone who gets rid of certain someones. Quarry is an hitman who kills other hitman’s, I really liked this concept of the book and from the start of The Wrong Quarry this idea comes to show in a many great lights. Quarry has retired after he got rid of the Broker who made contracts, but still finds that there is a lot of money to be made in this world. Quarry still has an archive and knows how to make an easy buck. He approaches the victim of the hitman and they need to pay him if they want to stay alive. How clever is that!

The Wrong Quarry picks up with Quarry tailing a antique dealer, as a routine mission, who has a second job featuring as an hitman. In the start up of the story there was a great many detail given about how Quarry initiated his plans and all along the way you have this clever narration from Quarry point of view that really bolsters the idea like you are right there next to Quarry. And though the descriptions of the surrounding and events that happen might be brief they do give you a great reading experience and it doesn’t feel like you are missing anything at all, instead with a writing style to the point, there is great pacing to the story. The story does soon broaden as Quarry discovers that the antique dealer isn’t necessarily in Missouri to buy something for his collection, Quarry soon finds out that he is planning to kill Roger Vale, the owner of a famous local dance school. Quarry pays Roger a visit and reveals what might be in store for him and this part was one that I really enjoyed to read, here you see the clear intention of Quarry and what a jerk he is, asking an insane price. But in another way, Quarry knows how to play his cards just right and make a buck out of each situation. Now that Quarry has got the hitman in his sight, I had thought the story would come to closing soon, but as you can make out of the title The Wrong Quarry, there is nice plot twist early on and Quarry is left a bit clueless. Is it possible that there is more behind Roger Vale’s character than what first meets the eye? I am not going to tell more because that would spoil the storyline to much but this major twist really helped to propel the story into a rapid pacing right until the end.

Quarry makes up for an excellent protagonist and he lives and breathes the pulp feeling that Hard Case Crime wants to bring to the forefront. There are some more adult oriented scenes taking place in The Wrong Quarry featuring the back alley and such, I know that this is just part of Quarry character, he likes to sample to local female population, but I don’t know, in the first read it didn’t quite work for me. It’s hard to describe, I don’t have a strong aversion to “romance” in a book but it was just bam and done and felt initially a bit misplaced. Only later there is more of a build up off Quarry with his female quarry’s that felt just more natural, and this made Quarry’s character feel much more of a ladiesmen then the first encounter. But I think this is more personal preference. When I look at the detective/investigative type of Quarry, I cannot seem to find any fault. Quarry is shown in the perfect manner, he is smart, witty, knows how to think outside the box, determined and doesn’t take no for an answer. When the fighting does break down, be it shoot outs or knife fights, it’s quite intense and violent. The scenes are just the perfect length, no drag but right to the point, exactly what you want to read about in this setting. Max Allan Collins manages to create a great flow and pacing with the story that only continues to build up. Never a dull moment!

The Wrong Quarry is an excellent crime story and an interesting take on the existing crime genre. From the first paragraph I had certain assumptions as to where the storyline would go and for the first 20% I was spot on but soon Max Allan Collins introduces some great twists surrounding the storyline that really causes you to abandon all your earlier assumptions. I was looking forward to read the story of a hitman assassinating other hitman, but hadn’t thought that the story would take a turn for this! All of a sudden you are emerged in a much thicker plot, and several characters that you had met now seem to have much going on that I heretofore could have guessed. The Wrong Quarry is one thrilling ride. I am already a fan of Quarry character his attitude combined with his “job” is just spot on.

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