The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins

Quarry doesn’t kill just anybody these days. He restricts himself to targeting other hitmen, availing his marked-for-death clients of two services: eliminating the killers sent after them, and finding out who hired them…and then removing that problem as well.

So far he’s rid the world of nobody who would be missed. But this time he finds himself zeroing in on the the grieving family of a missing cheerleader. Does the hitman’s hitman have the wrong quarry in his sight?

Well, duh, obviously he does. After all, the title of Max Allan Collins’ eleventh Quarry novel is The Wrong Quarry. Sort of a spoiler? Maybe. But The Wrong Quarry is a well-paced, thrilling read, punctuated by Quarry’s witty, hard-boiled first-person prose.

It’s a fun read, but I can’t help but point out some goofy bits, mostly relating to Quarry himself. Despite being a cold-hearted killer-for-hire who cut his teeth in the ‘Nam, Quarry himself is a bit of a dolt. For one, he is kind of a man-slut who can’t say no to a back-alley blow-job by the town skank (who happens to have a heart-of-gold, by the way) and has a bit of an uncomfortable appreciation for nubile jailbait, in my opinion. Seems a little unprofessional. Also, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Quarry would kill the killers and then put on his private-eye hat to do some digging around. I mean, wouldn’t it be smarter to at least try questioning the hitmen first before killing them? Just seems like he could save himself a lot of trouble is all I’m saying.

But it all seems to work out okay, even if Quarry’s methods are less than efficient. The Wrong Quarry is neither smart nor clever and, when you think about it, is just kind silly. But it is a fun, quick read and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m judging too harshly. Despite plot silliness, Collins makes Quarry a fun character to read.

My verdict: ★★★✬✩ (3.5/5 stars). The Wrong Quarry doesn’t win any awards for cleverness or even common sense, but Max Allan Collins makes the ride a fun one. Even if Quarry is just kind of spinning his wheels on an investigation (and frequently getting laid in the process) it’s fun to tag along.

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