Max Allan Collins, Tim O'Mara, and other professionals, plus a question for readers
"His three most recent Quarry novels, the latest in a series that began in the 1970s, suggest that Collins shared the savvy professionalism of the pulp and paperback-original writers who will be the panel's main subject."The three most recent Quarrys at the time were numbers eight, nine, and ten, and book eleven, Quarry's Choice, is newly out from Hard Case Crime. How does an author keep faithful readers coming back to a series without, however, boring them? By retaining familiar set pieces, but putting a slightly new spin on each. By occasionally introducing major changes in the protagonist's life without ever deviating from his or her essential character markers.
Collins does it again in Quarry's Choice. Quarry readers, for example, will know the character's backstory, how he returned from Vietnam, found his wife in bed with another man, and killed the man the next day. They will be familiar with Quarry's telling of the story near the beginning of each book, complete with the lover's coarse dismissal of Quarry just before his own death, how Quarry wound up being recruited to work as a contract killer. That coarse dismissal is always the same, and it's a pretty funny line, a familiar old friend to readers. And yet the story varies in the manner of telling just enough from book to book to avoid putting readers off.
And I like, too, the balance that Quarry manages to maintain between nice guy and the sort of amorality characteristic of a man who kills people for a living. Even when Quarry does the sort of thing to melt one's heart, Collins is savvy enough to infuse the situation with just enough menace to create suspense and tension.
(O'Mara is a teacher by day, and a crime writer when not teaching. Could his protagonist's name be a tribute to Raymond Chandler and John Donne?)
© Peter Rozovsky 2015