Sunday, October 5, 2008

Review of The First Quarry

Max Allan Collins' work runs the gamut from unreadable through indifferent all the way to quite good. It's hard to put a finger on why exactly his work varies in quality so much, but it does, especially when he tries too hard to imitate his idol, Mickey Spillane. Collins' last Hard Case offering, Deadly Beloved, was a Spillane imitation that fell flat. His latest offering, The First Quarry, however, is a strong outing for one of Collins' best characters.

As the title implies, The First Quarry is the story of the eponymous blue collar hitman's first job. The story picks up with Quarry waiting in an empty house across the street from his first target, a philandering creative writing professor. The story goes back and forth between the past and present to explain how Quarry came to work in his chosen field. Of course, what should be a simple job turns out to be more complicated than Quarry could ever imagine. Before it's all over Quarry will have crossed paths with a private detective, two organized crime syndicates, and a scorned wife.

Collins keeps the book moving with masterful pacing, and he also keeps it short. There's not anything in the story that doesn't need to be there, and the book can be read in a couple of hours, making it a perfect way to kill an afternoon. A solid entertainment.

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