Max Allan Collins’ character Quarry is not exactly forgotten these days, what with the three Hardcase Crime novels published in the last few years and a fourth coming later in the year. But the five earlier entries in the series are out of print and command hefty prices on the used book sites. There also seems to be one book that contains the novel in this post and several short stories.
Quarry has been retired for a number of years and owns a small restaurant. He’s married to a young woman, Linda, who’s recently revealed she’s pregnant. He wasn’t sure at first whether he was happy about that, but then realized that he loved her and couldn’t be anything else.
Then one day, while chopping wood, a car pulls up with a well dressed man driving. He knows all about Quarry, who he really was and what he used to do, information he shouldn’t have. The man offers a contract to Quarry worth a million dollars: a hit on a right wing political candidate that can influence the next Presidential election, not win, but take away votes from another politician.
One thing Quarry had always done was avoid political hits. He knows he would become a liability and likely wouldn’t live to spend his money. Besides he’s retired.
Naturally he turns it down, a decision he comes to regret. Not the refusal, but not killing the man and dumping the body. But as time goes by and nothing happens, he thinks he might have dodged a bullet.
When his wife’s brother comes for a visit, her only family, Quarry gives them some alone time and stays at the restaurant with the guy who runs it for him. Coming home, he interrupts a two man hit team. His wife and brother-in-law were dead and the two hitters were soon following.
His only clue where to start is a match book, advertising a night club, with a phone number written inside, and the sure knowledge of the only person who could have sent the well dressed man to him.
His life here was over. He dresses one of the hit men in his clothes and a Rolex watch, engraved from his wife, and burns the house. He’s a dead man now.
Then he goes hunting.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one and wish someone would come out with affordable editions of the older books. In following, and participating, in discussions on the Goodreads site, the Quarry novels, the newer ones, are quite popular and everyone seems to bemoan the high prices of the older books. I think there would probably be a market for new editions.