Look! A new cover by the legendary master, Robert McGinnis! That was what first drew my eye to this novel, but then I saw Max Allan Collins’s name and got a double whammy. Then I saw that the book was indeed about Quarry, the rough-and-tumble hitman with nerves of steel and a blue collar worker’s mentality — he never takes on a job he doesn’t see through to the end. I was sold.
I first started reading the Quarry novels (there were five previous books featuring the character) back in the 1970s when I discovered MAC’s other works featuring Mallory (which I really should find and re-read at some point) and Nolan (a semi-retired heister who joined forces with Jon, a comic book artist geek). Mallory was fun and Nolan was entertaining, but Quarry was just… HARD. Like the mine where rock slabs are cut from the earth. Quarry was definitely different, and not for the squeamish.
The years haven’t softened him. In this novel, which MAC has confirmed in interviews as the “last” Quarry in the chronological order (though not the last book about the character he’ll necessarily ever write), Quarry is still recovering from losing his wife and unborn son to violence that he thought he’d walked away from by turning down an offer he couldn’t refuse. He meets up with an old Army buddy from his Vietnam days and ends up managing a resort for him.
While in town during the off-season, being slowly bored out of his mind, Quarry meets a face he remembers from his Mafia days. Following the man to a rental home, Quarry discovers the man and his partner are holding a kidnap victim: a young, lush beauty. Sizing up the situation, seeing a chance to eradicate any chance the man might have recognized him as well as make a few bucks himself, Quarry buys out the kidnappers’ interest with a bullet through the eye and a long walk across the thin ice of a frozen lake. Then he ransoms the young woman back to her father, Joshua Green, a man with some semi-ties to the Chicago Mafia.