By Max Allan Collins
Hard Case Crime
Max Allan Collins has written stories about his Vietnam veteran hitman since 1976. It was obvious from the start that the author and his creation were the same age making it easy for him to place the stories in time. Collins did a few Quarry books and then walked away from them. When Hard Case Crime came along, publisher Charles Ardai, a fan of the character, urged Collins to bring Quarry back.” Collins, obviously older, as was his hero, realized he had a golden opportunity to write a finale.
What his crystal ball couldn’t predict was how successful “The Last Quarry” would become among his ever-growing audience. And there was Ardai wanting more. Collins pulled a very neat hat trick and went backward with “The First Quarry.” Which of course meant dusting off his own memories of those long-ago times and their social environs. All of which he did making it seem effortless.
Having thus given us the alpha and omega, it seemed we mystery/crime fans had seen the last of Quarry. Again we’ve been proven wrong in this new “Quarry’s Blood.” It’s pretty much a gripping fast-paced epilogue and so much fun. We catch up with an aging Quarry, almost about to reach seventy and widowed for the second time. He’s content with living a quiet if lonely life until a very savvy female writer named Susan shows up on his doorstep. As it turns out she’s the author of a bestselling true crime novel that was clearly inspired by Quarry’s lethal career and she’s convinced he is the real hitman she researched in her book.
Unnerved by all this, he maintains his false innocence and sends her packing. The following day, while taking a pre-dawn swim at a nearby indoor pool, he’s nearly killed by two professional assassins. No way is it a coincidence and Quarry finds himself once again being pulled into his old world of hunter/prey, kill or be killed. But what’s the connection to Susan? And who, after so many long years, wants him dead, and why?
This is one of the best Quarry books ever. Maybe we think that because we’re seventy-five, a Vietnam veteran, and oftentimes think about all our brothers who never made it home to their families and loved ones. Who never got to drink another cold beer or read a damn good book like this one. Thanks, Max, for all of them.