I don’t often go in for pure Hardboiled novels but decided I was well over due to make an exception. Many of my favourite SFF stories have a Noir tinge, or are unabashed hybrids that fuse Hardboiled ascetics with science (or speculative) fiction. So would I enjoy Noir with out the SFF genre trappings I was used to?
Quarry’s Ex is one in a series of novels from author Max Allen Collins who also wrote Road to Perdition. The protagonist, Quarry (not his real name), is so called because he’s stony and hollowed out, at least according to his boss. Quarry is ‘Nam Vet who is putting his skills to work by fulfilling contracts on people. As such, Quarry’s Ex is a period piece set in the 80s. There’s a surprising amount of attention paid to which colour slacks and chinos everyone is wearing, and if they’re sporting a new polo shirt. This quickly wears thin and doesn’t seem to add anything to the plot, other than to paint 80s America as a
Quarry is no longer working for the mysterious ‘Broker’ but is a lone wolf with an unusual angle for a hitman – he neutralizes other hitmen. For a price. However things aren’t so straight forward on this assignment. Quarry’s titular ex-wife has remarried, and she’s shacked up with a movie director who’s due to meet with an untimely accident. Not only does Quarry have to deal with not one, but two hitmen, he also has to manage some old feelings and get some closure on an event that has cast a long shadow
Being a Hardboiled novel, Quarry’s Ex is told from the first person and there are plenty of quips and asides. Much of the novel takes place in and around a straight-to-video movie set, so there’s an added dash of faded glamour and a lot sex. Everyone is having (or rumoured to be having) sex with everyone else. Even Quarry’s ex-wife who is in a marriage of convenience still manages the horizontal mumba twice a month with her cheating husband we’re told.
Quarry’s Ex is fun, fast and racy read. It won’t take long to read being just 208 pages. I’m pleased to say I couldn’t work out who had taken out the contract on the hapless movie director from the cast of possible culprits.
Quarry’s Ex is available from Titan Books and is just one of many on their Hard Case Crime imprint.