Understatement of the year:
“My big mistake was allowing happiness to creep in.”
That’s Quarry talking, and it provides the opening line of Quarry’s Vote (Hard Case Crime/Titan Books, 2015) by Max Allan Collins, a rerelease of Collins’ 1987 novel, originally titled Primary Target. This edition, however, rests behind one of Hard Case Crime’s patented pulp-style covers, in this case drawn by the great Robert McGinnis.
Quarry has settled in to a quiet life of retirement, or as quiet as an ex-hitman can ever hope to find. He’s married, getting fat, and living on the aptly-named Paradise Lake, a remote, bucolic spot in a woodsy area of northern Wisconsin. Using his sizable nest egg from his assassin days, he has bought into a little lodge up there and he and his wife are getting along just fine, thank you, as he enters middle age. He listens to Mel Tormé records on his stereo, watches a lot of movies on TV thanks to an early-generation satellite dish, and seems prepared to doze his way through the rest of his life in bliss.
But one day, while he’s relaxing on his porch sipping coffee, a BMW pulls up and a fiftyish man gets out. Quarry is immediately suspicious, and even moreso when the man reveals he knows who Quarry is. Furthermore, he offers him one million dollars for one final job, enough money to make his retirement far more worthwhile. Seems somebody wants a politician killed, specifically, a politician who is running for president the following year under a third party banner, and who has plenty of grass roots support nationwide.
Quarry nixes the deal without blinking. Killing politicians draws way too much heat, and he would no doubt be a loose end that would have to be cleaned up. BMW Man gives Quarry his best pitch, urging him to take the job, but no dice.
That stern refusal kickstarts the plot of this eerily-timely novel. Collins started the Quarry series back in the early 1980s and now, through the efforts of Hard Case Crime, he has added several new books to it. In addition, HCC has rereleased all of the series’ original novels from the 80s, allowing Quarry to earn the attention of a whole new generation of readers. In addition, he will even be the subject of a long-awaited TV series which will air on Cinemax later this year.
For decades, Collins has written series characters, each of which has found an audience, but Quarry is going for his second trip around the block, and readers are much better off for it. This is an exciting series with a compelling lead, and Quarry’s Vote is one of the best entries. You start reading it and before you know it, you’re on the final page.
Recommendation: buy it. You can’t go wrong with Quarry or Max Allan Collins. Besides, it’s from Hard Case Crime, so you know it’s got to be good.