Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Quarry in the Black for review purposes.

Quarry in the Black is the 13th in the series by Max Allan Collins.  I hadn’t read the previous twelve books in the series, so I was jumping in blind.  There’s always a danger in doing that, as there can sometimes be a substantial amount of cumulative character development over the course of a series.  However, Quarry in the Black does a good job of standing on its own – I definitely didn’t feel lost at any point.

Plot

Quarry is a hit man.  In Quarry in the Black, Quarry is hired for a job that pays much more than past jobs.  Quarry initial balks – he does do political hits.  No, he is assured, this is not political.  While the target is a well known person, the motive is entirely personal.

Since the target is well protected, Quarry must go undercover.  He becomes a volunteer in an organization that is trying to encourage the newly enfranchised college students to vote for George McGovern in the 1972 election.  (Prior to passage of the 26th amendment in 1971, the voting age had been 21).

Before long, Quarry realizes that there’s another hit man gunning for the same target.  What the heck is going on?  Quarry works to get to the bottom of the mystery, dispensing his own form of justice along the way.  Like any good hit man, he finds the time to romance some women along the way.

The book is relatively short – around 200 pages.  There’s a limit to how much plot development you can do in 200 pages, but Quarry in the Black features quite a bit of plot development for a book of that length.

Character development

Aside from the prominently featured Quarry, there are about ten other characters with a reasonable amount of character definition.  There’s a decent mix of character traits, evoking a variety of reactions to the characters.  Anyone who has read my reviews in the past knows that this is my litmus test for character development.  Poorly developed characters don’t evoke emotional reaction.  If I love or hate a character, it’s well developed.  The characters in Quarry in the Black passed my test.

Verdict

I enjoyed the book.  Collins is a good story teller, and he sneaks in a bit of history as he goes along.  Quarry is a likeable fellow, and I’ll probably check out a few more books in the series.

This book is part of the Hard Case Crime imprint from Random House.  It’s a pretty well cultivated brand – I’ve enjoyed all the Hard Case Crime books I’ve read so far.

Quarry in the Black goes on sale October 4.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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