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Quarry's Climax


Quarry's Climax

Max Allan Collins was recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. That recognition is richly deserved and long overdue. The immortal Mickey Spillane handpicked Collins to complete his unfinished work. The Road to Perdition series? That’s Collins’ work. He even wrote the “Dick Tracy”comic strip for almost 10 years following the retirement of creator Chester Gould. Collins has written mystery and detective series, novels, adaptations of television series, comic books, graphic novels...I could go on and on, and will at the drop of a hat. I’m here today, though, to talk about QUARRY’S CLIMAX, the latest installment in his Quarry series.

"[I]f you come to the table expecting a hard-boiled feast, you will not be disappointed. This is traditional crime literature at its best."

Collins notes at the end of the book that this tale serves as a bit of a companion to the fine “Quarry”television series that unfortunately is not coming back for a second season. QUARRY’S CLIMAX is set in October 1975 and (mostly) in Memphis, when Quarry, a killer for hire, was working for the Broker. Quarry is tasked with a two-fold job --- to foil a planned assassination of Max Climer and to trace the job back to its source, eliminating both ends of it along the way. Part of the problem for Quarry is that there are any number of people who at least theoretically would wish Climer dead and pay handsomely to have it happen.

Climer is a notorious magazine publisher based in Memphis whose reputation and fortune have been built on a men’s magazine named Climax, which is full of articles, cartoons, jokes and, uh, photos. That would be lots of photos that leave nothing to the imagination. Climer is also opening a number of gentlemen’s clubs that follow at least one element of his magazine, and, as a result, everyone from feminists to evangelicals are picketing his establishment and wishing him harm. You will recognize Climer’s real-world model pretty quickly --- it is neither the recently deceased Hugh Hefner nor the less recently deceased Robert Guccione --- and despite the change of scene from Columbus, Ohio, to Memphis, Tennessee, Collins gets everything pretty much in the real world, even though, of course, this is totally a work of fiction.

Quarry is up to his eyebrows in danger as he tries to navigate his way between business and pleasure and remain a gentleman rogue while doing so. What is just flat out brilliant here is that Collins, his ability to describe the distracting flora and fauna notwithstanding, never loses sight of the plot and his perfectly paced mystery as he tries to sort out who is after Climer and why. He even manages to insert a bit of subtle irony into Quarry’s mix, making his semi-reluctant completion of his assignment a good thing, in an unexpected way. Actually, it’s sort of a good thing. You need to read the book to see just how Collins pulls it off.

QUARRY’S CLIMAX may not be for everyone. The language is rough in spots, the jokes are crude, and the sex and violence are graphic. But if you come to the table expecting a hard-boiled feast, you will not be disappointed. This is traditional crime literature at its best.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 13, 2017

Quarry's Climax
by Max Allan Collins

  • Publication Date: October 10, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Hard-boiled Mystery, Mystery
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1785651803
  • ISBN-13: 9781785651809