Review: Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins

Killing Quarry by Max Allan CollinsPublication Date 11/12/19 * 5/5 stars * Published by Hard Case Crime

Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins
Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins

Everyone’s favorite professional killer is back in Killing Quarry, the 15th adventure of the Vietnam sniper turned hitman by Max Allan Collins.

This adventure falls into the “list” era of Quarry adventures when he is searching out other professional killers and eliminating them — for a fee. It’s a return to the early days of this series that first started in the 1970s, but with a twist. When Quarry tracks this killer, he ends up following him back to his Wisconsin stomping ground and finds that he is the target. It seems someone has figured out his scheme and is tired of their killers and clients getting offed.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I realized just how absurd this premise is. It requires a pretty big suspension of disbelief to accept that Quarry would just happen to track the right killer at the right time. In fact, that points to just what a skilled writer MAC is at this point. Yeah, it bothered me a little at the back of my mind as I read, but the story was moving at such a pace, it’s easy to toss that aside and follow the story.

A female killer from Quarry’s past shows up at an opportune time to help Quarry, and there’s the typical death and sex to keep you reading. Still, what appears to be a relatively straightforward tale has enough twists and turns to keep the story going to a satisfying conclusion.

The decision to have Quarry as the target pays off in some nice ways as it leaves Quarry off his game throughout the book and ups the stakes for our hero(?). That helps to keep the book feeling fresh, something that’s never easy to do in a series that has extended across this many books and more than 40 years.


Upcoming appearances in Minnesota

If you’re in Minnesota, we’ll have some of our books at two upcoming book festivals:

The Deep Valley Book Festival is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 5 at the Loose Moose Saloon & Conference Center in Mankato. Admission is free.

The following week, we’ll be at the Twin Cities Book Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 12 at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Admission is free for this event, too.

Deep Valley Book Festival
Deep Valley Book Festival

E-book review: Speaking of Lust by Lawrence Block

Speaking of Lust by Lawrence Block
Grade: A

“Speaking of Lust” is Block’s contribution to the anthology of the same name that he edited, but also available in a standalone e-book.  It was the first of what Block planned to be seven books, each themed around each of the deadly sins. The series seems to have been abandoned after the second, “Speaking of Greed.”

Lust is the story of five men telling their tales of lust collected over their careers as a priest, policeman, doctor, soldier and “old man,” each offering their own insights into the subject. It’s a quick read, not only because of it’s length but also because of Block’s typical breezy writing style. A great way to pass an hour or so.

One small step for man … one giant leap for pulpdom!

Moon PulpAs promised, our new collection, Pulp Adventures on the Moon, is being published in time for the annual PulpFest show, kicking off next week in Pittsburgh.

2019 is the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. But long before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on our celestial neighbor, writers did just that in the pages of the pulps. This collection includes 10 stories and two articles from the pulps envisioning what might be waiting for Earthly explorers on the lunar surface. Includes contributions from Jonathan W. Sweet, R.L. Farnsworth, Henry Kuttner, W.E. Thiessen, Frank Belknap Long, Noel Loomis, Oliver Saari, Victor Rousseau, Alexander Samalman, George Whitley, Charles E. Fritch and James Blish.

This new collection will be available at PulpFest, or for order through Amazon (in both print and ebook formats) or other bookstores.

Beginner’s Guide to Pulp an Amazon bestseller

Our new release, The Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction, is the #1 New Release in Mystery Literary Criticism on Amazon this month.

You can order from the link above. Here’s aBy JONATHAN W. SWEET sample of the introduction from the book:

What is Pulp Fiction?

Pulp fiction got its name from the cheap wood pulp paper on which most pulps were printed. (This is also the reason many pulps have not aged well – the pulp paper is even more susceptible than higher-quality paper to brittleness and other aging.)

The term “pulp fiction” was often used to denigrate the quality of the writing in the pulps as well, becoming a short-hand for cliché-filled, poorly plotted stories. While there were plenty of those, there was also some great work done in the pulps. Many writers who went on to greater fame (more on that later) got their starts working in the pulps.

Pulps typically sold for a dime, making them affordable entertainment for the average working man that made up the bulk of the pulps’ audience. The pulps were published from 1896 to the 1950s. They were mass entertainment at a time before radio and television, and continued through two World Wars, the Golden Age of Radio and the beginning of television.

The first pulp was Argosy, revamped by Frank Munsey beginning in 1896. Argosy had been published since 1882, but it was in 1896 that Munsey shifted the magazine to all-fiction content and the paper to cheap pulp stock. Street & Smith was next with The Popular Magazine in 1903. With the success of those two, other publishers followed suit, with pulps typically becoming organized around a type of story or character, such as detective, romance or western stories.

The covers also became increasingly important. Pulps were famous for their lurid covers, with the stereotypical cover featuring a scantily clad damsel being terrorized by some evil scientist or frightening creature. It’s worth noting, of course, that there were plenty of covers that were more sedate.

The pulps peaked in popularity in the 1930s, with many selling more than 1 million copies an issue. Some pulps lasted for decades; many lasted for only one or two issues. Some publishers published hundreds of different titles over the years.

Pulps began to decline during World War II, when paper shortages forced publishers of all types to cut production. By the 1950s, most pulps that survived had switched to the smaller digest format still seen in a handful of publications today.

After the pulps themselves faded away, the term pulp fiction was also often applied to the mass market paperbacks of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that essentially replaced the pulps. This guide focuses on the actual pulps, not the later incarnations.

The original pulps are still collected and some have proven extremely valuable for their rarity or inclusion of an especially high-profile author. Many of the pulps have also been reprinted, both in small paperback formats in the 1970s and 1980s and more recently in full-sized reproductions complete with illustrations. Several companies offer high-quality collections of the classic pulp stories featuring even obscure characters.

There’s also been a resurgence in pulp writing, with the “new pulp” movement. Several publishers, such as Airship 27 and Pro Se Press, are publishing large amounts of new stories featuring new stories of old pulp characters and original pulp creations. The best creations in new pulp are honored every year with the Pulp Factory Awards.

From comic books to the superhero movies that dominate theaters to the serialized shows we stream on Netflix, the impact and influence of the pulps can be seen throughout pop culture today.