Quarry In The Black by Max Allan Collins

Posted October 18, 2016 by Kate in review / 0 Comments

Quarry In The Black by Max Allan CollinsQuarry in the Black (Quarry #13) by Max Allan Collins
Published by Hard Case Crime Genres: Crime, Hard-Boiled
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

With a controversial presidential election just weeks away, Quarry is hired to carry out a rare political assignment: kill the Reverend Raymond Wesley Lloyd, a passionate Civil Rights crusader and campaigner for the underdog candidate. But when a hate group out of Ferguson, Missouri, turns out to be gunning for the same target, Quarry starts to wonder just who it is he’s working for.
The longest-running series from Max Allan Collins, author of ROAD TO PERDITION, the Quarry novels tell the story of a paid assassin with a rebellious streak and an unlikely taste for justice. Once a Marine sniper, Quarry found a new home stateside with a group of contract killers. But some men aren’t made for taking orders—and when Quarry strikes off on his own, God help the man on the other side of his nine-millimeter...
First publication ever! Star of the acclaimed TV series QUARRY on Cinemax Featuring the final cover worked on by the late Glen Orbik (1964-2015)

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It’s the run-up to the Presidential Election. Race relations are fraught, smear campaigns are everywhere, and those involved will do their darnedest to make sure their man wins.

But this isn’t the circus that is the 2016 campaign, oh no. It’s 1972, America is yet to suffer it’s most humiliating defeat, and the people are yelling for change. Among them sits Quarry, just waiting on his next job.


As much of a fan of the brilliant Hard Case Crime books as I am, I admit I’d never come across Quarry before. I knew of Max Allan Collins thanks to the amazing Road To Perdition, but I came to his hard-boiled assassin fresh and not knowing what to expect. ‘Quarry In The Black‘ is the thirteenth novel featuring the eponymous Quarry, a man who goes by a single name thanks to his handler Broker. Your typical ‘loner’ type, Quarry relies on no one unless they’re involved in that case. You’d think this would make for a thin cast of characters, but Collins manages to maximise this ensemble with great ease.

As Quarry’s ‘co-worker’ Boyd is the perfect foil for him, often coming to his aid, and certainly not taking any of Quarry’s crap. He’s not overly rounded as a character, but that may be a side-effect of him recurring throughout the series. Broker is as mysterious as you would expect, and only a small amount of their previous history is hinted at, so again, it’s hard to connect. All other characters are enclosed within this story, as with most pulp fiction of this type, but there are many and all of them are well imagined and depicted. It is of course, Quarry’s novel and for all his rough posturing and 1970s machismo, his conscience is what drives him, even if his choices can veer towards the morally ambiguous. While he may not be overly relatable, he’s a great main character to get behind.

Collins began the series in 1976, when the language and tone were very much of the time, but the entire series has been written over 40 years, and obviously a lot has changed. While Collins keeps true to the era, many may find the examples of racism and sexism hard to stomach, and it is brutal at times. That’s not to say that Collins is condoning of such acts (although a bit of a sexist at times Quarry does find the racism he sees abhorrent) but it is worth considering this if you’re new to this sort of fiction, or unaware of the historical relevance.

Collins is at his absolute best when it comes to depictions of action scenes, keeping it punchy (literally) and fast, but never muddling events. Whether it’s a kidnapping or an attack on a KKK meeting, Collins never lets the pace dip, often injecting huge doses of humour into the bargain. ‘Quarry In The Black‘ is also hugely atmospheric, especially in it’s depiction of 1970s New York at the height of election fever. There’s a serious Taxi Driver feel coming off the scenes set in the campaign headquarters, and the streets, apartments and areas that Quarry frequent are steeped in a perfect layer of 70’s NYC grime.

I’d say, that if you wanted to dive into the Quarry series, then start at the beginning with book #1 Quarry (a.k.a. The Broker) and move on from there. Even better, get the editions from Hard Case Crime and you’ll have the amazing covers to boot! Quarry has also been adapted for TV achieving rave reviews for it’s currant airing on Cinemax. ‘Quarry in The Black‘ is the perfect slice of hard-boiled crime noir, enabling a brief, but exciting dip into the grimy underworld.






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