This collection of stories featuring Max Allan Collins' hired killer called Quarry features all four Quarry short stories and the fifth novel in the series, Primary Target, which appeared ten years after the fourth entry, Quarry's Cut (previously published as The Slasher). But that's nothing when you consider that it would be almost twenty before Collins would write The Last Quarry for Hard Case Crime.
In Primary Target, Quarry is offered one million dollars to assassinate up-and-coming third-party presidential candidate Preston Freed. When he turns it down -- he is retired, after all -- there are major consequences and Quarry is forced to get back into the business he knows best: killing. Only this time, it's personal.
What results is a wonderfully intricate story where every character is connected to at least one other. Collins stretches out the suspense beautifully and only reveals the connections one by one, as Quarry discovers them himself. Collins' style is engaging as always and Quarry is a fascinating choice for a protagonist, given that he is only ever looking out for himself (although he does show a surprisingly tender side). Primary Target is exceptionally well-crafted, with every piece fitting firmly into place. It also has a perfect ending and is just the right length, coming in at just under 200 pages.
Also included are four short stories, the most significant of which is "A Matter of Principle," which has been adapted into a short film and is purported to be the basis for the forthcoming (and abovementioned) The Last Quarry; it would certainly work well as an opening chapter. Originally published in the seminal genre anthology Stalkers, "A Matter of Principle" has Quarry rescuing a kidnapped woman through his own special means. But Quarry's motives are his own, as we soon find out....