Sorry for the long delay in posts. I've been doing more writing than reading here lately. For those not it in the know, I'm a very low-budget (multiple award-winning) filmmaker. I have to throw the award thing in because otherwise the only way anyone knows is to come into my house and see them collecting dust on the shelf. So, I've been writing short films, two features, tinkering on my second novel, rewriting and polishing material. Since my team and I are all fully vaccinated and can finally (somewhat) get out of the house and make shit. I only tell you all this as a some-what lame excuse for the lack of reviews.
Anyway, Max Allan Collins has been a staple of my reading nearly since the beginning, at least my "adult reading." I'd imagine if he wrote children's novels I might have gravitated toward those too. It was his movie tie-ins that I first picked up (see the movie thing ties in here too) I'd always ben a movie freak and since the movies that they showed at school rarely showed gun-fights, fisticuffs or had curse words I turned to the tie-in world to carry my movies with me. I was a real weird middle-school kid with a copy of "In the Line of Fire" in my book-bag. These days that might have got me in trouble, who knows. Max's tie-ins for "U.S. Marshals," "The Mummy" and the like made me know his name.
But it was his own novels that made him a favorite of mine.
For some reason though his Quarry novels had eluded me, so I have missed out on what is really might be his crown jewel. Right before I started the blog I fixed this by buying most of the novels and tearing through "The Broker." I loved the book and became an instant Quarry fan. I was already a Nolan, Mallory, Ms. Tree, and Nate Heller fan mind you. "The Broker's Wife" is the 2nd Quarry novel only if you go by publication date. The order of the books zig-zags around and the titles change for different editions. It's a bit of a maze to master so I just decided to play it like I was reading them as they came out.
Quarry is a wise-ass 'Nam vet who returned home to find his wife cheating on him, after a little creativity with a car-jack the man who was screwing his wife is dead, Quarry gets away with and lands in the sights of The Broker. The Broker has a network of killers-for-hire and offers Quarry a job. Since killing is about the only thing he knows he accepts. Things go sideways in the first novel and the second finds him hiding out in a cabin waiting for some hitmen to come and try and take him out. They do and the narrative is off and running. Along the way Quarry tackles killers, dirty lawyers, the beautiful widow of The Broker and even uncovers an old family secret. Max has a really nice clean "meat and potatoes" writing style, uncluttered and unpretentious. He (at least with these books) wants to tell a clear, exciting story and he absolutely delivers. Quarry's voice is a affable one for a stone-killer, he's a guy you like to hear stories from but might not want to actually know. People who know Quarry usually end up dead it seems.
I'll be forever grateful for Hard Case Crime for giving Max the opportunity to continue the series and pile up books on my shelves. Max's books are the most exciting novels coming out of HCC anymore. Man, I didn't even mention his collaborations with Mickey Spillane which are just uniformly excellent. Plus I just picked up "Skim Deep" the first Nolan book in 33 years, which I'll be covering here soon I'm sure. Then I'm also going to have to pick up his new series about 60's spy John Sand, that hits all the right buttons for me. Then there's his Jack and Maggie Starr series that I need more off, plus his stand-alone "Midnight Haul." Wait, then I need to get the rest of his Elliot Ness books. Whoa. Can you tell I'm a fan?