Quarry – Max Allan Collins (1976)

quarryI’ve just finished ready Max Allan Collin’s first Quarry novel. I decided to buy the Hard Case Crime edition of this work published in 2015. Originally this story was published in 1975 as The Broker, but I am working on a goal of reading all of the Hard Case Crime published works so, this is the edition for my library.

Physically dark, aesthetically dark, metaphorically dark the climax comes after midnight, a rainy midnight in a poorly lit rendezvous, a quarry outside of town away from any prying eyes. The ‘quarry’ stone theme runs through the book, but so does this idea of swimming, a cleansing I think… the author keeps coming around to swimming and I think ‘there’s something in the water here’. Peg bathes every time after sex… Mr Collins makes a point of pointing that out.

The story opens up with Quarry in the middle of ‘job’. At the conclusion of this job, Quarry returns to the motel in which he’s staying and we meet him there while he’s swimming in the pool. A broad approaches the pool and coaxes Quarry to return with her to her room to continue their conjugal activities they had evidently been engaged in before

Quarry snuck out to accomplish his job. After completing this new job, he returns to the pool despite the protestations of the broad.

This story ends in a dramatic climax resulting in several fatalities as it were. But more importantly we find Quarry now terminated from his employment with Broker. And since Broker is his only point of contact with the people contracting his services, and the ‘mystery’ being solved in this story stems directly from this work… how is it that Quarry’s story will continue? I know there is a sequel, but how does it start? This novel ends with Quarry, freed of the encumbrances of his ‘work’ swimming after his phone call with Peg. So, what is he going to do with his life next? Is he just going to retire? He seems a bit young for that, and the score from his last jobs isn’t that much money… a nice modest nest egg but certainty not ‘rest of your life’ money…

There’s a passage in the book that really sums things up nicely. Quarry is confronting the person who hired his services…

“… Let me remind you, you smug-ass bastard… you murdered Albert Leroy.”

“No,” I said. “I killed him. You murdered him.”

And I left her to think about it. I hoped she’d think about it a long time. But I doubted it.

But what else can we learn from this work… Well, there’s a passage that sums that up nicely too:

It didn’t make sense, it didn’t make fucking sense. Invisible people nobody wants to kill. Sometimes – like in my case – you get invisible because you want no one to know you. But other guys are born that way. Other guys doctors yank from the womb and can’t find an ass to slap.

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