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The Last Quarry
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 23, 2008
Quarry was a hit man and very good at his job. These days he is retired and not so good at that. He retired not because his conscience was getting to him, but because he had amassed enough money to live comfortably and not kill for money any more. So, he quit and through a contact he started managing a small resort that may or may not he located along Sylvan Lake in Minnesota.

Life is pretty good all things considered. But, he is having a small issue with insomnia. The fact that it is winter and everyone is gone except the maintenance guy, José, doesn't help. With the place closed and nothing to do except keep an eye on things, he is bored out of his mind. Very late one night he takes a 10 mile trip to the nearest convenience store for a little junk food and instead finds a contract killer who knows him. That killer, like a domino in a long line of dominoes, provides a way to deal with his insomnia and ultimately one last job.

According to the multi page author's note, this book was originally inspired by his anthologized short story "A Matter of Principal" (which is also a short film in the "Shades of Noir" collection and his short story "Guest Services." Fortunately for the author and readers, Charles Ardai wanted to not only reprint some of his earlier books, he also wanted an original Quarry novel for Hard Case Crime.

That request ultimately became this book which is a fast read at 194 pages and features distinctive cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis. In those 194 pages, Max Allan Collins showcases an anti-hero of sorts who is what he is and accepts that with no excuses. He knows what he is and how he became what he is and when he makes a mistake, Quarry accepts it and moves on. This is a guy who does his job, expects others to follow through on their part of the contractual bargain and is perfectly willing to enforce compliance as well as accept his change of plans should the need arise. The result novel is an engaging tale that pulls no punches as it touches on the themes of murder, deceit, familial love and jealousy and the plain simple truth that some folks just need killing.

Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2008
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Thirty years ago, author Max Allan Collins created the first hired-assassin series character in Quarry, the protagonist of his novel, The Broker (later republished simply as Quarry). Quarry appeared in four more novels, ending with 1986's Primary Target, and then didn't show his face (except for a few short stories, eventually collected along with the novel in Quarry's Greatest Hits) for almost two decades, until a young filmmaker named Jeffrey Goodman politely badgered the author to let him make a short film of one of the short stories, "A Matter of Principal."

Collins eventually gave in, having been impressed by Goodman's tenacity, with the provision that Collins himself would write the screenplay. (His own bad experiences in Hollywood during the making of The Expert had made Collins wary of others directing his material and Collins has at this writing helmed three features himself. All of them are available, including the short film of "A Matter of Principal," in the DVD box set Max Allan Collins' Black Box Collection.)

The short film was a hit on the festival circuit and won a number of awards. This led to Goodman's idea for making "A Matter of Principal" into a feature, which would of course require another screenplay from Collins. Coincidentally, Charles Ardai had also asked Collins for a new Quarry novel to publish for his Hard Case Crime line, and it only made sense to combine the requests. The Last Quarry is therefore a brand new Quarry novel and also an unofficial novelization of the feature film, as yet to be made. (Collins has vast experience with novelizations, including novelizing the screenplay -- not written by him -- of his own graphic novel, Road to Perdition.)

The resulting novel is some of the best and tightest fiction Max Allan Collins has ever written (and it's dedicated to the director "who brought my killer to life"). Anyone who has read "A Matter of Principal" is going to feel a strong sense of déjà vu for the first three chapters, but that's just the lead-in to the real story as a millionaire hires Quarry to kill a meek librarian, whom Quarry then proceeds to fall for, making the all-too-familiar mistake of mixing emotions with business.

As in its predecessor, previously unforeseen connections appear between characters, making for some interesting surprises in this concise suspenser. Collins doles out the words in The Last Quarry only as needed, in keeping with Quarry's laconic personality -- he doesn't waste time, words, or bullets -- and fills barely 200 pages with the same amount of story that a less careful author would stretch to twice that length. And this killer shows a distinct sense of humor, peppering his narrative with occasional asides that raise a chuckle or sometimes even a full-bellied laugh.

It is obvious that Collins likes Quarry (and he seems to contain a good amount of Collins himself, based on what I've seen from interviews on his DVDs) and is having a lot of fun with this final outing (at least chronologically speaking, according to the Afterword). Simply put, it is a perfect example of Collins' combined talent and skill. Two for the Money was my introduction to his work and if there's any justice in the world, The Last Quarry will garners scores of new fans to this and Collins' other series characters (like private investigator Nathan Heller).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2007
I am a huge Max Allan Collins fan and have enjoyed his works, however, I found this novel to be a fast-paced action packed read. However, there was a character issue I had with Quarry. Quarry, retired after many successful jobs, stumbles upon a kidnapping plot. He ruthlessly kills the kidnappers and ends up ransoming the victim! A stroke of genius! We see how ruthless he is first hand and he quickly falls for his next victim. I thought that was a bit cliched, but the part the really got to me was the fact that Collins created a hard-boiled character, who just falls for his next victim. My problem is: how are we supposed to believe he is cold and ruthless when his heart gets in the way of doing a job? Yes, I do know that he is getting older, and yes, softer, in his twilight years, but it still is difficult for me to digest.

I really enjoyed the story twists. Even though they were predictable, they were still great. However, since this is my first Quarry read, maybe I do not get the character in the way that I should have. I thought the flow was great. No one can tell a story the way Collins can. I think Collins will pick up where Spillane (his dear friend) left off when he sadly passed on. I just did not buy the hard boiled edge of Quarry with an ending the way it was.

This has, in no way, affected my love for Collins work. I always bow to a superior master!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2006
The story of why we are blessed with a new Quarry novel from Max Allan Collins after all these years is related in the author's afterword of the Hard Case Crime publication of THE LAST QUARRY. I will note that the work was inspired by a shorter film version, which in turn is one of the stories featured in the film anthology SHADES OF NOIR, which itself is based upon... Well, you get the picture.

By turns dark and humorous, the Quarry of THE LAST QUARRY is a hit man, and a principled one at that. He has retired from the life, but the life has not retired from him. Living quietly and contentedly as the manager of a vacation lodge, Quarry abruptly finds his past intruding on his present when a simple late night trip to the local convenience store brings him into a hostage-for-ransom situation involving some former acquaintances. Quarry makes a split decision and interjects himself into the matter in a somewhat unpredictable way, which is worth the price of admission by itself.

Doing so unexpectedly results in Quarry being offered "one last job," a hit with a payday so good that he'll never have to worry about anyone again. But the target is a woman who, according to Quarry's employer, doesn't deserve to die but will become a "problem." Quarry shadows the woman and plans the hit. What he doesn't plan on is becoming involved with her, but that is precisely what he does. Quarry thus is faced with a conundrum: someone has to die. He knows what he should do, but what he must do is quite another thing. The result is a suspenseful, wild night's ride, leading up to a shattering climax with a surprising but oddly satisfying denouement.

While Collins no doubt will be remembered most for his classic THE ROAD TO PERDITION, the greater body of his work is closer to THE LAST QUARRY, and it is with books such as the latter that he has built and maintained a reputation as one of the finest writers of crime fiction that the U.S. has produced. And at this late date, Collins, as exemplified by THE LAST QUARRY, continues to publish some of his finest work.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2008
In September 2008 I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. While deployed to Iraq, I found a book in a stack of books that had been sent here for us to read called "The Last Quarry" by Max Allan Collins. I had never heard of the author before, and normally didn't read this style of book, but after reading the back cover and part of the first chapter I decided I was bored enough to read almost anything and I took the book back to my tent to read.

I enjoyed that book so much I read the entire thing in one sitting, frequently laughing out loud as I read. After reading that book I discovered Collins also wrote the books that many of my favorite movies were based on. I enjoyed that book so much I jumped on Amazon.com and bought another one, "The First Quarry." I was excited when it arrived here in Iraq, and I read it also in one sitting. It didn't disappoint!

Since then I've ordered and received two more Quarry books. I just finished reading "The Slasher / Quarry's Cut", again read it in one sitting, and tomorrow I'm going to read "The Broker / Quarry".

I love the authors sense of humor and it makes these books a real pleasure to read. I've discovered the Quarry books written prior to 2003 are only available used, and are very expensive to purchase.

I wonder if that same style of vulgar, sarcastic humor is present in his other books as well, or if it's limited to the Quarry books.

Anyway, I'm a big Quarry fan, and will probably soon become a big fan of his other books as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2014
This is the 4th Quarry book I have read but the sixth book written. It seems that with each Quarry book I each one I read I end up saying this is the best one yet and that continues to be the case.

This is the tale of Quarry's last case, it is also a bit of a love story. That does not mean it was the last Quarry novel. In fact this was the book that revitalized the entire series. Author Collins has simply set the subsequent stories earlier in the career of the Quarry character. This is just the final Quarry story Collins intends to tell.

The story starts out as Quarry stumbles into an abduction sceanerio. Quary resuces the rich teen and gets his owm payment and off the story goes on a wild ride.

Max Allan Collins author of The Road To Perdition has become a master writer of Detective Fiction and the book crackles with sharp, rapid dialogue and crisp prose.

Robert McGinnis at age 88 is the master of American Illustration who excelled at moody Noir covers and this one knocks It out the park. The presentation by Hard Case features excellent production values.

My Highest Recommendation
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2007
THE LAST QUARRY combines 2 stories by the incomparable Max Allan Collins into a single narrative. This book is a gem of a novel. Updating the hardboiled genre of the 40s, 50s and 60s is no easy task and most attempts, in my opinion, fail miserably. Having someone talk like Bogart into a cell phone just doesn't work for me. But Collins pulls it off with this book. Quarry is as tough as they come and his handling of a high-profile kidnapping is pure hardboiled gold. There are laugh out loud funny observations, tough guy antics galore and a few hardboiled insights thrown in for good measure. The book recreates and updates the type of writing fans like me love in those old Dell and Signet paperbacks, which is what Hard Case Crime is all about. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2008
I never read any Quarry stories but I'm familer with Collins work.
This Story is about an aging hitman who wants to retire but his proffesion catches up with him. Offered one final job Quarry accepts for the cash and fear of being exposed by his employer.
Quarry soon finds his hit is a beautiful woman who's a librian that reads to kids. Quarry soon has doubts on doing his job, since all previous jobs dealt with mafia crimanials,pimps and other scumbags who deserved to die, this woman in his survalance is none of those and cannot figure why she should die.
Quarry reasons their more going on than meets the eye but does he do the job or refuses and risk exposure?
Collins delivers the goods.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
When I saw another of the "Hard Crime" series titles, I thought it might be interesting to give it a go. The cover art reminded me of one of those old "pot boilers" where the good guy is a gun toting, cigarette smoking wise ass who manages to get the job done and get the girl in the process.

This book was along those lines, but a bit updated. It's set in modern times, and the good guy is actually a bad guy. And there was a lot more swearing and sex in it than I imagined. But, it was a good read. It wasn't anything particularly challenging, but it was a nice Tuesday night diversion. I think I might pick up the rest this series and see if they're any good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I generally read most anything Max Allan Collins writes (especially under the HARD CASE CRIME banner) and THE LAST QUARRY was no exception.

I'd never heard of Quarry before picking this one up and felt like I'd missed the boat big-time when I'd finished. Easily one of the best hitman characters I've ever read and it just bummed me out this was the last one.

I finished this one in about 2 hours and I consider myself a slow reader. Great hardboiled fun.
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