A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Ed Gorman:

MAX COLLINS – The Broker. Berkley, paperback original, 1976. Paperback reprint: Foul Play Press, 1985, as Quarry.

   In the mid-1970s, the multi-talented Max Collins (who also writes as Max Allan Collins) produced a series of four paperback originals about a Vietnam vet turned hired killer, known only as Quarry. The Quarry series has so often been referred to as a Richard Stark pastiche that its own tone and morality are often overlooked.


   In The Broker, the first in the series, we meet Quarry shooting a man in an airport men’s room. Quarry’s assignment is to bring what the man is holding (heroin) back to his employer, an icy sort called the Broker. Quarry complies.

   After complaining that he does not like to deal in drug killings, he reluctantly takes another Broker assignment, this one working with a homosexual killer named Boyd. In the rest of the novel, Collins shows us an abundantly unpleasant world peopled with all sorts of characters, from cuckolded husbands to porno-crazed geezers who look like Gabby Hayes.

   What gives the Quarry books their style is the detached voice of the narrator: Quarry has no compunctions about killing people, because he feels most of them are rather foolish beings anyway. Unlike Stark’s Parker, who is human only when it serves his ends, Quarry is subject to feelings other than anger-melancholy, amusement, contempt-feelings he notes, nonetheless, with the kind of removed observation one would expect from a man in his profession.

   The Broker and the other three novels in the series — The Broker’s Wife (1976), The Dealer (1976), and The Slasher (1977) — are successful for another reason: They depict the waning hippie/flower-power days with a great deal of historical accuracy. The Quarry books are therefore an important part of the crime fiction of the Seventies — a quirky, idiosyncratic look at the Midwest during the Gerald Ford regime.

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

         Bibliographic data: The Quarry series [Updated].

   The Broker. Berkley, pbo, 1976; aka Quarry, Foul Play, 1985.

   The Broker’s Wife. Berkley, pbo, 1976; aka Quarry’s List, Foul Play, 1985.

   The Dealer, Berkley, pbo, 1976; aka Quarry’s Deal, Foul Play, 1986.


   The Slasher, Berkley, , pbo, 1977; aka Quarry’s Cut, Foul Play, 1986.

   Primary Target. Foul Play, hardcover, 1987.

   Quarry’s Greatest Hits. Five Star, hc, 2003. Contents:
       ● Primary Target (novel)
       ● “A Matter of Principle” (short story, reprinted from Stalkers, Roc/Penguin, 1992, Ed Gorman, ed., and the basis for a short film included in the DVD boxed set Max Allan Collins Black Box Collection: Shades of Neo-Noir, 2006.)
       ● “Quarry’s Luck” (short story reprinted from Narrow Houses: Blue Motel, Volume 3, Little Brown, UK, 1994, Peter Crowther, ed.)
       ● “Guest Services” (short story reprinted from Murder Is My Business, Signet, 1994, Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins, eds.)

   The Last Quarry. Hard Case Crime, pbo, 2006. Expansion of “A Matter of Principle,” and the basis for the feature length film, The Last Lullaby (2008).


   The First Quarry. Hard Case Crime, pbo, 2008.


   Quarry In The Middle. Hard Case Crime, pbo, 2009. (Forthcoming, November.)