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The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins

Lovers of hardboiled crime and detective mysteries or the TV show “Dexter” will love Max Allan Collins new offering in the Hard Case Crime Novel series, “The Wrong Quarry.”

The “anti-hero” of this Collins series is a semi-retired contract killer with the alias Jack Quarry.  Quarry is not a psychopath in the sense that he does not have a psychological need to kill; his expediency is more economic than anything else, and a sense of vigilante justice that he is ridding the world of people who deserve to die.  Quarry has a rather unique way of finding his prey now that he is semi-retired.  He acquired the contact file of a former contract middleman with about fifty names of killers on it.  Some of the people on the list Jack knows to be the people in a two man team who stake out the quarry to be killed and then pass along the information to the trigger man.  The other names on the list are people who generally carry out the contract.  Quarry used to work as the hit man in these two person scenarios all the time, and now he is gradually taking out the list of contract killers and their surveillance people by following them, finding out who is the person to be killed and getting hired by that person to take out the contract team.

The case in “The Wrong Quarry” involves taking out a team contracted to torture and kill a small town dance instructor and in the process finding out who took out the original contract and offering to also get rid of the originator of the contract, if possible.  The dance instructor is accused of raping and killing the teenage granddaughter of the patriarch of the wealthiest family in Stockwell, MO.  No one can pin this crime to the instructor and make it stick because no body has ever been found.  There is no physical evidence linking the dance instructor to the crime and he has an alibi for the time the girl disappeared.  The grandfather is convinced the man is guilty.  Enough about the plot.

While the hardboiled crime novel is usually not my cup of tea, Collins is the reigning master of this genre and he creates such entertaining and interesting characters that it is a pleasure to read his novels.  “The Wrong Quarry” is no exception.  I’m addicted much as I was to the “Dexter” TV series.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.  This book is scheduled to be published January 7.

Liz Nichols

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