I haven't been reading Max Allan Collins' books as long as I have those of Lawrence Block, but it's close. I read Bait Money back in 1973 when it came out in paperback from Curtis Books, and I've been reading right along ever since. While I enjoyed Bait Money and its sequel, Blood Money, I thought Collins really hit his stride with the Quarry series, the first three books of which appeared in 1976, with the fourth to follow in 1977. The next one didn't come out until ten years later, and it was almost twenty years before Quarry was revived for Hard Case Crime in The Last Quarry. I was happy to see it, but I hoped the title didn't prove prophetic. It didn't, and there have been four more since then. (I'm not counting the collection of short stories.) We might even be seeing a Cinemax series based on the novels.
Which brings us to The Wrong Quarry, the latest novel to feature the Viet Nam vet and professional hit man. If you've been keeping up with the books, you know that Quarry is no longer employed by the Broker and is now on his own with a new venture. Instead of hitting people on whom there's a contract, Quarry now cuts a deal with the target and will, for a fee, hit the hitters. This time he's in a small town in Missouri, where someone has put out a contract on a dance instructor. Quarry makes his usual deal, but something doesn't seem right about it. And something isn't, but it's not my job to tell you what. That's for you to find out.
Quarry's his usual self, irresistible to women (there's a good bit of sex in this one), and he even hooks up with an aspiring writer who's very affectionate. Quarry's the consummate professional for the most part (I got a good laugh out of the last line of Chapter 13) and as cold-blooded as ever. You could say I'm a fan of the series, since I've read all the preceding books, so naturally I enjoyed this one. But I think that you could pick up this book even without having read any of the others and find yourself right up to speed within a few pages. After that, strap in and enjoy the ride. It's a good one.