The Last Quarry Mass Market Paperback – Mar 29 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Collins (Road to Perdition) will be delighted to find him resurrecting Quarry, the ruthless hit-man he put to rest years ago, after six Quarry novels and a small handful of short stories. Now living and relaxing in the Minnesota woods, Quarry is lured out of retirement by a Chicago media magnate who wants a seemingly harmless young librarian dead. But when he winds up falling for his target, one Janet Wright, Quarry begins second-guessing his assignment and experiences an uncharacteristic change of heart that almost gets him killed. Stemming from Collins's screenplay for the award-winning short film A Matter of Principal, this novel covers a lot of ground in a small space—a credit to the distinct, wry voice Collins has given Quarry, who doesn't waste anything, least of all words: "Louis cracked open the door and peered out and said, 'What is it?' and I shot him in the eye." Compact enough to be read in a couple of sittings but bristling with suspense and sexuality, this book is a welcome addition to the Hard Crime Case library and, if there's any justice, will spark sales of Collins's back-catalogue titles. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
This novel's provenance is as interesting as its plot. It started as a much-anthologized short story, "A Matter of Principle," which is also the basis of a soon-to-be released feature film called Shades of Noir. Now, in expanded form, it's become a novel, the first appearance of Collins' hit-man hero, Quarry, in 30 years. Fans of classic pulp fiction will be spellbound by the no-nonsense Quarry, an antihero who mixes irony, violence, and a lingering touch of humanity in just the right proportions. It begins with a conundrum: Why would a gay Mafia thug be buying Tampax at a remote Minnesota convenience store in the middle of the night? Curiosity drives Quarry to find out, and soon enough he has accepted one last assignment from a Chicago millionaire. When he finds himself falling in love with his intended victim, the initial conundrum becomes a hit man's nightmare. Collins never misses a beat, as Quarry finds himself vulnerable to a potentially lethal strain of emotional ambiguity. All the stand-up pleasures of dime-store pulp with a beguiling level of complexity. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Life is pretty good all things considered. But, he is having a small issue with insomnia. The fact that it is winter and everyone is gone except the maintenance guy, José, doesn't help. With the place closed and nothing to do except keep an eye on things, he is bored out of his mind. Very late one night he takes a 10 mile trip to the nearest convenience store for a little junk food and instead finds a contract killer who knows him. That killer, like a domino in a long line of dominoes, provides a way to deal with his insomnia and ultimately one last job.
According to the multi page author's note, this book was originally inspired by his anthologized short story "A Matter of Principal" (which is also a short film in the "Shades of Noir" collection and his short story "Guest Services." Fortunately for the author and readers, Charles Ardai wanted to not only reprint some of his earlier books, he also wanted an original Quarry novel for Hard Case Crime.
That request ultimately became this book which is a fast read at 194 pages and features distinctive cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis. In those 194 pages, Max Allan Collins showcases an anti-hero of sorts who is what he is and accepts that with no excuses. He knows what he is and how he became what he is and when he makes a mistake, Quarry accepts it and moves on. This is a guy who does his job, expects others to follow through on their part of the contractual bargain and is perfectly willing to enforce compliance as well as accept his change of plans should the need arise. The result novel is an engaging tale that pulls no punches as it touches on the themes of murder, deceit, familial love and jealousy and the plain simple truth that some folks just need killing.
Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2008
Collins eventually gave in, having been impressed by Goodman's tenacity, with the provision that Collins himself would write the screenplay. (His own bad experiences in Hollywood during the making of The Expert had made Collins wary of others directing his material and Collins has at this writing helmed three features himself. All of them are available, including the short film of "A Matter of Principal," in the DVD box set Max Allan Collins' Black Box Collection.)
The short film was a hit on the festival circuit and won a number of awards. This led to Goodman's idea for making "A Matter of Principal" into a feature, which would of course require another screenplay from Collins. Coincidentally, Charles Ardai had also asked Collins for a new Quarry novel to publish for his Hard Case Crime line, and it only made sense to combine the requests. The Last Quarry is therefore a brand new Quarry novel and also an unofficial novelization of the feature film, as yet to be made. (Collins has vast experience with novelizations, including novelizing the screenplay -- not written by him -- of his own graphic novel, Road to Perdition.)
The resulting novel is some of the best and tightest fiction Max Allan Collins has ever written (and it's dedicated to the director "who brought my killer to life"). Anyone who has read "A Matter of Principal" is going to feel a strong sense of déjà vu for the first three chapters, but that's just the lead-in to the real story as a millionaire hires Quarry to kill a meek librarian, whom Quarry then proceeds to fall for, making the all-too-familiar mistake of mixing emotions with business.
As in its predecessor, previously unforeseen connections appear between characters, making for some interesting surprises in this concise suspenser. Collins doles out the words in The Last Quarry only as needed, in keeping with Quarry's laconic personality -- he doesn't waste time, words, or bullets -- and fills barely 200 pages with the same amount of story that a less careful author would stretch to twice that length. And this killer shows a distinct sense of humor, peppering his narrative with occasional asides that raise a chuckle or sometimes even a full-bellied laugh.
It is obvious that Collins likes Quarry (and he seems to contain a good amount of Collins himself, based on what I've seen from interviews on his DVDs) and is having a lot of fun with this final outing (at least chronologically speaking, according to the Afterword). Simply put, it is a perfect example of Collins' combined talent and skill. Two for the Money was my introduction to his work and if there's any justice in the world, The Last Quarry will garners scores of new fans to this and Collins' other series characters (like private investigator Nathan Heller).
I really enjoyed the story twists. Even though they were predictable, they were still great. However, since this is my first Quarry read, maybe I do not get the character in the way that I should have. I thought the flow was great. No one can tell a story the way Collins can. I think Collins will pick up where Spillane (his dear friend) left off when he sadly passed on. I just did not buy the hard boiled edge of Quarry with an ending the way it was.
This has, in no way, affected my love for Collins work. I always bow to a superior master!
By turns dark and humorous, the Quarry of THE LAST QUARRY is a hit man, and a principled one at that. He has retired from the life, but the life has not retired from him. Living quietly and contentedly as the manager of a vacation lodge, Quarry abruptly finds his past intruding on his present when a simple late night trip to the local convenience store brings him into a hostage-for-ransom situation involving some former acquaintances. Quarry makes a split decision and interjects himself into the matter in a somewhat unpredictable way, which is worth the price of admission by itself.
Doing so unexpectedly results in Quarry being offered "one last job," a hit with a payday so good that he'll never have to worry about anyone again. But the target is a woman who, according to Quarry's employer, doesn't deserve to die but will become a "problem." Quarry shadows the woman and plans the hit. What he doesn't plan on is becoming involved with her, but that is precisely what he does. Quarry thus is faced with a conundrum: someone has to die. He knows what he should do, but what he must do is quite another thing. The result is a suspenseful, wild night's ride, leading up to a shattering climax with a surprising but oddly satisfying denouement.
While Collins no doubt will be remembered most for his classic THE ROAD TO PERDITION, the greater body of his work is closer to THE LAST QUARRY, and it is with books such as the latter that he has built and maintained a reputation as one of the finest writers of crime fiction that the U.S. has produced. And at this late date, Collins, as exemplified by THE LAST QUARRY, continues to publish some of his finest work.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
I enjoyed that book so much I read the entire thing in one sitting, frequently laughing out loud as I read. After reading that book I discovered Collins also wrote the books that many of my favorite movies were based on. I enjoyed that book so much I jumped on Amazon.com and bought another one, "The First Quarry." I was excited when it arrived here in Iraq, and I read it also in one sitting. It didn't disappoint!
Since then I've ordered and received two more Quarry books. I just finished reading "The Slasher / Quarry's Cut", again read it in one sitting, and tomorrow I'm going to read "The Broker / Quarry".
I love the authors sense of humor and it makes these books a real pleasure to read. I've discovered the Quarry books written prior to 2003 are only available used, and are very expensive to purchase.
I wonder if that same style of vulgar, sarcastic humor is present in his other books as well, or if it's limited to the Quarry books.
Anyway, I'm a big Quarry fan, and will probably soon become a big fan of his other books as well.