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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quarry does Yojimbo
There are quotes in the front of Quarry in the Middle from Dashiell Hammett, Akira Kurosawa, and Sergio Leone. What do these men have in common? All three have written or directed a version of the same story: a loner playing both parties of a situation for his own profit. It's a very old story, at least as old as Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century commedia dell'arte Servant of...
Published on November 3, 2009 by Craig Clarke

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Quarrry; will appeals to fans of the series
Quarry in the Middle is the least satisfying of the Quarry books I've read, but since it is by Max Collins, who is a great genre writer, it's still a treat. In this book, Quarry plays the mysterious stranger who intervenes between two crime families interested in a gambling casino on the Mississippi. Quarry, who is really now selling protection from hit men as opposed...
Published on November 15, 2011 by Jeff


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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quarry does Yojimbo, November 3, 2009
There are quotes in the front of Quarry in the Middle from Dashiell Hammett, Akira Kurosawa, and Sergio Leone. What do these men have in common? All three have written or directed a version of the same story: a loner playing both parties of a situation for his own profit. It's a very old story, at least as old as Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century commedia dell'arte Servant of Two Masters, but Hammett brought it to 20th-century readers in his "Continental Op" novel Red Harvest.

Red Harvest is considered to be a direct influence on Kurosawa's samurai film Yojimbo (though Kurosawa himself cited The Glass Key). Leone later remade Yojimbo into A Fistful of Dollars. (Leone was sued by Kurosawa for neglecting to purchase remake rights; Kurosawa stated he made more money off Leone's film than his own).

Interestingly enough, all three protagonists are "men with no name": Hammett's hero is known only as "the Continental Op," Kurosawa's samurai names himself after a plant he sees nearby, and Leone's character has popularized the phrase to the extent that he personifies it. But enough with the history lesson; a good portion of readers probably know all that stuff, anyway.

Where The Last Quarry showed the end of his career and The First Quarry showed the beginning, Quarry in the Middle understandably fills in some blanks. It's set in the mid-1980s. (I'm guessing late 1986; Collins doesn't say outright, but he gives various historical clues.) No longer working for The Broker, Quarry has begun a new kind of business. Using The Broker's files, he gets hired killers' targets to hire him to kill the killers. How very meta!

Following his latest ... uh, quarry ("a guy named Monahan"), Quarry finds himself in a town with the unlikely name of Haydee's Port, Illinois -- home of the Paddlewheel ("a mini-Las Vegas under one roof") and its official digs, the Wheelhouse Motel -- and a hell of a place to be unless you can think on your feet. Luckily, our hired-killer-with-no-name (at least not one he's telling us) has shown himself to be quite adept at thinking ... on his feet, on his back, etc.

Quarry finds out Monahan is gunning for Richard Cornell, owner of the Paddlewheel, and that he's been hired by Jerry G, son of mob-connected Gigi Giovanni, owner of Cornell's main competition, the less-classy Lucky Devil. A man who knows how to turn every situation to his best advantage, Quarry takes an assignment to knock off the Giovannis.

The Quarry series contains Collins's leanest and tightest writing, and Quarry in the Middle is no exception. Collins blends past and present seamlessly, alternating between telling Quarry's back story and the current one with unmatched skill.

I finished Quarry in the Middle in two sittings, or about an hour and a half. It's a very quick read and one you may want to start right over again from the beginning. Collins's take on Yojimbo is fresh yet familiar, and it's always fun to watch Quarry do his thing. Here's hoping the series continues, filling in even more blank spots in the timeline along the way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More hitman-versus-hitman action, set in the world of mob-run casinos, December 9, 2009
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Usual Max Collins lightning-paced, razor-sharp read gives fans of the "Quarry" series a new, "previously untold" tale of the sardonic hitman, star of six or seven other involving, often funny, and always dark adventures. On that last point, you know a series is dark when the most admirable, moral person in the stories is usually the central hitman character! Well, each book tends to feature a stripper or hooker with a heart of gold type, too, because- after all- Quarry needs a little company. Here, in a story set in the big-hair, disco-ball, neon-laden 1980's, Quarry offers his services to a corrupt but charming casino owner targeted for termination by parties unknown, those services being along the lines of "I'll kill the guy who was hired to kill you, and also kill the guy who hired the guy to kill you." All for a generous fee, of course. The 200 or so pages of sex, violence, mystery, and wry observation (a favorite element of mine in this series) fly by.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quarry's red harvest, May 17, 2012
By 
G. N. Sarver "Neil" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
Most people have seen Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, The Warrior And The Sorceress, Miller's Crossing, Omega Doom or Last Man Standing. I'm certain I'm not even unique in having seen all of them.

If you've seen even two of them, it's probably not hard to find the common thread, a thread that can likely be traced back to Red Harvest, or a similar work, by Dashiell Hammett, directly or indirectly.

The cover blurb for Quarry in the Middle tells us we're in similar territory, "The enigmatic hitman Quarry -- star of seven celebrated novels and an award-winning feature film (The Last Lullaby) -- is back in this violent, steamy tale of warring crime families. When two rival casino owners covet the same territory, guess who puts himself in the crossfire..."

Author Max Allan Collins signals that he knows what he's doing when he writes, "... I parked on the far side of the lot, near where the glimmering black strip of the Mississippi River reflected the lights of the ancient steel toll bridge joining River's Bluff, Iowa, and Haydee's Port, Illinois.

"Everybody I'd talked to so far, which wasn't many admittedly, seemed to shorten it to Haydee's. And from the glimpse I'd got of the little town, they might have been saying Hades, and meaning it."

This corresponds nicely to "Red Harvest", where Hammett wrote, "I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation. I still didn't see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that used to make richardsnary the thieves' word for dictionary. A few years later I went to Personville and learned better."

None of this is to suggest that "Quarry in the Middle" is a ripoff. In fact, Collins's novel is much further from any of those other works than they are from each other. Just that it's worth noting that we're in familiar territory here. For some of us, particularly comfortable territory. The fact that Collins is ready to twist this around in new and unexpected ways is part of the fun of the ride.

And it is a fun ride, meeting a jazz singing casino owner, the stripper with a kid and perhaps a "heart of gold", a thuggish mobster with a penchant for poker... Perhaps all clichés themselves, but, like the story, given more than enough of a twist to give them dimension and character of their own beyond that, while still giving that initial comfortable feeling.

The pace is quick, with a sure touch at entertaining the reader. It's not my favorite Quarry novel, but it'll sit comfortably on my shelf with the others. It's a fun ride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Collins Original and Loviing it., May 12, 2013
By 
J B Bergstad (California, USA) - See all my reviews
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I never leave a Max Allen Collins book thinking I got robbed, I'm beginning to think this guy can't write a bad book. I love his style, it's strictly Hard-Boiled stuff, the mode some may refer to as "pulp" and turn up their nose. For those so inclined to dismiss, you have my profound sympathy. Call his books and style what you will, Max Allen Collins never fails to deliver entertainment with a captial E. If you haven't read his Heller series you have a treat in store. Most of these books can be purchased for pennies and you will find it difficult if not impossible to put them down. I've only just begun his Quarry series and here again, I find myself turning electronic page after page long after I should have gone to sleep. Max has apparently had a long career as a successful novelist, screenwriter and playwright. I'm not sure if he's still writing, but I would hope so for fiction's sake. For those who would like to hunker down with a good read that does what fiction should do, and that's entertain first and foremost, with no sermonizing either philosophically, religiously or politically Max Allen Collins is your guy. J B Bergstad - Kindle Author writing as Matt James. [ASIN:B002TSB0UA Screwing the Pooch - New Revised Edition] [ASIN:B00CDAQ4PU Hyde's Corner - Book I - No Man's Land (Hyde's Corner Trilogy)
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime Noir Knucklebuster, November 15, 2009
By 
Max Allan Collins's cool and deadly professional hit man, Quarry, is back for another serving of mayhem and murder - and this time he's taking a cut right out of the middle. As the title suggests, Quarry In The Middle takes place in the middle of Quarry's career, somewhere in the 1980s. Quarry has left the employment of the Broker, the man who first hired him to be a paid assassin. Quarry didn't leave without a retirement plan, though. He took the Broker's files and is currently making a living tracking down other hit man and killing them - provided their targets pay for his services.

Once in Haydee's Port, Illinois, Quarry discovers the small town is divided between two criminal enterprises. Richard Cornell, the owner of the Paddlewheel Casino, is a marked man. As Quarry observes the setup, he believes Jerry G., the owner of the Lucky Devil, has hired the other hitmen in town. Quarry kills both hitmen and goes into business for himself against the odds.

As usual, Collins deals out lethal violence, raw sex, and wisecracks at a blistering pace. Although written in the 21st century, Quarry In The Middle feels like one of the old Gold Medal novels I devoured as a kid. There aren't many good people in this novel, and the few that are there are trapped by bad circumstance. The atmosphere the whole tale is gritty and harsh. Quarry is only a hero because he's better than everyone else in the book, which is what I want in my crime fiction.

Collins also plays fair with the 1980s. As I read along, I picked up on all the songs the author laid down. It's funny, but the music he mentions tied me into that time frame even more than the story. When Collins mentioned a particular song, the scenes filled up with the memories I had of that time and similar places like the casinos he writes about. The 1980s weren't as volatile as the 1970s, at least for me, but there were a lot of touchstones anchored by music.

The novel plays out small to a degree, bouncing back and forth between a small cast of characters. It's like a tight B movie that shows you just enough to keep everything moving and doesn't hesitate about kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it. I finished the book in a couple of hours, never once had to stop and figure out what was going on, and had a blast tooling around riding shotgun to Quarry.
I don't know where Collins is going to take Quarry next, and there haven't been any announcements concerning future books, but I hope this isn't the end of the series. I enjoy the character and the unrestrained violence, as well as the dark world where Quarry lives.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slam, Bang, My Work is Done Here, January 5, 2010
Max Allan Collins' new Quarry novel finds him caught between Midwest casino owners with Chicago mob ties. Quarry must wend his way between opposing forces, discover the person behind a contract killing, sustain a terrible beating, meet some bar girls and strippers, figure out which ones have hearts of gold and which ones are full of deceit, take his revenge and (not too politely) depart from Dodge.

The action is fast-paced, the language gritty, the sex and violence served up in huge dollops, the ending satisfying. I'm a fan of Lawrence Block's hit man, Keller, but Collins' hit man, Quarry, is a different bird altogether. No stamp collecting in his world, no apartment in New York to which to repair and little time for reflection on his brutal, sexy life. His world is noir all the way and Max Allan Collins is expert at describing it. This was my first Quarry novel; it most certainly won't be my last. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quarry getting busy, November 11, 2012
This review is from: Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
Collins brings us back to our favorite hitman, Quarry a Vietnam vet turned gun-for-hire who has killed his handler the broker and is sewing up his network of killers by offering up his services to their victims. He befreinds a small town crime boss whose competitor wants to see him dead and the illegal gambling they have belong to him, he also has to figure out who put out the contract on his client. Quarry is a mixture of one part assasin with robin hood whose trying like he did in the first quarry to acheive some sort of equalibrium in life, from killing a hit team to giving an unwed single mother stripper a hand up. You can bet its worth a read if Quarry's in it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quarry In the Middle Is Great Fun, March 3, 2014
This review is from: Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
Collins is one of the most prolific authors of the last several decades. He has written dozens of books, including his Nathan Heller series, his Mallory series, and his Quarry series. He is also well-known for taking over writing the Dick Tracy comic strip, his Road to Perdition series which resulted in a well-received movie starring Paul Newman, and for completing a number of Mickey Spillane's books, including several great Mike Hammer books.

Quarry in the Middle is Collins' ninth book in the Quarry series which began with Quarry in 1976, and includes Quarry's List, Quarry's Deal, Quarry's Cut, Quarry's Vote, Quarry's Greatest Hits, The Last Quarry, The First Quarry, Quarry's Ex, and Wrong Quarry. As detailed in the First Quarry, Quarry is a former Vietnam veteran whose real name is never disclosed to the reader. He comes back, finds his fiancé in bed with another guy, finds that guy working under his car and kicks the jack out, survives a murder trial, and is then recruited by a mysterious figure named the Broker to carry out hits and we don't mean hits in baseball.

In Quarry in the Middle, Quarry no longer works for the Broker, who is no longer among the living. Rather, Quarry has obtained the Broker's lists of contacts and he follows the hired assassins, staking them out and figuring out who their prey is. Once he is confident in that information, he offers a deal to the targets, he will, for a price, take out their hitmen and find whoever is the responsible party. I guess everyone needs a career doing something.

Quarry in the Middle is firmly set in small-town (Haydee's Port) Midwest in the mid-1980's. Collins reinforces that setting in time and place by his descriptions of the cars used at the time, the music playing on the radio, the posters on the walls in the decrepit bars, and the hair and outfits worn by the folks peopling this small waste of a town. The women, for instance, often have frizzed hair and pink tube tops.

Quarry follows a man he knows is a mob hitman to a small town with one wreck of a hotel, a run-down main street filled with bars and dives, and a run-down casino by the river. Both the casino and one of the bars on main street are run by guys who are rival and who both have heavy Chicago connections. Quarry is not a secretive a he would like to be as both of the mobbed-up rivals in this town clue into the fact he is not the vetinary drug salesman he pretends to be.
Quarry checks into the same motel as the hitman he is following which leads to some amusing scenes as Quarry comes out of the motel pool after doing laps and sees the hitman sitting next to where Quarry left his rolled-up towel with a nine-millimeter wrapped in it.

This Quarry book is non-stop action as Quarry rolls into one fight after another and into one bed after another. In this book, Quarry is definitely single and definitely on the make.
Collins never lets the reader forget however that all the action is taking place in this small town waste of a town in the 1980's Midwest and that most of the people in this town have nothing but a bleak future ahead of them. His descriptions of the casinos and clubs and the denizens in them are just right on. Collins also takes the reader step by step through a high-stakes poker game.

All in all, although this book may be nothing more than another chapter in the Quarry series, it is a fun, worthwhile read, firmly in the hard case crime tradition. Expect to finish the book the same day you start it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Quarrry; will appeals to fans of the series, November 15, 2011
By 
Jeff (Northern California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
Quarry in the Middle is the least satisfying of the Quarry books I've read, but since it is by Max Collins, who is a great genre writer, it's still a treat. In this book, Quarry plays the mysterious stranger who intervenes between two crime families interested in a gambling casino on the Mississippi. Quarry, who is really now selling protection from hit men as opposed to doing the work himself, discovers a two man team tracking a casino operator. The rest of the book details his efforts to protect his client.

I'm a big fan of the series because Collins is such a good writer. In this book, he has Quarry fall into way too obvious a trap, only to escape via coincidences that remind one of a James Bond movie. There's also a 'mole' working in one camp whose presence was very easy to anticipate. I've seen better plotting from Collins in this series and was a little disappointed. Still, it was an enjoyable read. Quarry is a very well constructed concept and several of the other books in the series are quite good. Start with The First Quarry and you won't go wrong.

Many authors would struggle to write a book this interesting. It's a mark of how good Collins is that this books is one written on an off day(s).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quarry's Best...Or Collins', April 26, 2011
By 
N. Bilmes "bookaholic" (Vernon, CT United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been a loyal Max Collins reader for over 20 years, and this was by far the worst of the Quarry books. The sex is decent and the action is fine, but what's missing is the meat. This book seems overlong and it's only 206 pages! There are far too many pages filled with descriptions of bar decorations and what the patrons of the bars are wearing. I think this story would have benefitted from more action, more tension, and more stock-in-trade activity from the title character as he goes about his business.

I liked this, but don't think you should spend full money on such a quick, cheap read.
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Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime)
Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime) by Max Allan Collins (Mass Market Paperback - April 19, 2011)
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