Max Allan Collins
Book 2 of Quarry: The Series
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
Quarry is back again and on the hunt in Quarry’s List; the second book in this film noir, retro-throwback to the true crime pulps. Having read the first book in the series, Quarry, will help immensely in following this installment, as Quarry’s List picks up only a few months after Quarry ended. The storyline picks up from the downtime between novels and the rip-roaring, deadpan and often deadly action that hallmarks the series gains momentum from there. The novel, if you aren’t familiar with the series, stands well on its own though as past events are reintroduced (or rather introduced) to the reader. Quarry’s List is hard hitting crime drama that you just don’t want to miss. It packs the punch of Spillane with the intrigue of Puzo, and rolls out the continuing tale in the life of a professional hitman.
Writing a convincing hard-boiled crime novel is not an easy feat. It usually takes the point in first person, and the only things revealed are the things on the walls of the maze the author runs you through. To this effect, Quarry’s List is spectacularly written. Gritty, and dank, the underbelly of the conspiracies in crime come through Quarry’s mouth and thoughts and endear this anti=hero to the reader. The plot is a maze, beginning where Quarry left off; but with its own entrance and exit. The sheer scope of the plot fits into a book a little thinner than Quarry but trumps it with respect to characterization and depth – notably more depth into the mind of Quarry, and the people he encounters towards the goal at the end.
Quarry’s List takes the character developed in Quarry and ramps him up a notch. The uncaring individual seen in the first novel is fleshed out even further in this novel. Also there are less characters in this novel, compared to the last, so a more “Quarry oriented” view of how these people live and act is possible. Keeping the characters to a minimum benefits Quarry’s List in spades. The reader gets a good insight into more fully fleshed out characters, though not totally as three-dimensional as Quarry himself. However, as Quarry is fleshed out, his interactions with the other characters take on a more personal level, and some characters like, for example, Claire, glow. You sense a comfortability through these characters coming out of Quarry and into Quarry’s List, and if you did get a chance to read the first novel, some characters do spill over, and the appearance of a new “gun” doesn’t faze you nearly as much as going into this novel dry.
The plot is Mickey Spillane and Mario Puzo balled into one and spit out faster than the gout of flame from a jet engine. The narrative runs quick and fast leaving the reader no time to catch his breath. There are downtime moments in this novel where it is safe to put the book down, but there is always that one tantalizing fact let out at the end that will pull you under again. Sharp, smart and often blunt dialogue spruces the film noir atmosphere, where characters say very little and actions speak louder than words. This world that is Quarry’s List is summed up on the back cover quite succinctly, but it is no preparation for the adventure as it unfolds in all its dark, gritty glory.
Quarry’s List is a must read for fans of Spillane, Puzo, Hard Crime novels, or just as something to pick up and read. While the grittiness may be glum for some people, this reviewer has no problem in saying that fans of the above placed into a high-octane novel that most will be sure to appreciate. Fans who miss films like Casablanca and it’s no-nonsense contemporaries will also pull just the right amount of nostalgia from this fantastic read.