I was reflecting today that a lot of non-fantasy fiction authors I love, I met before in articles and essays than in stories.
Case in point: Max Allan Collins.
I first met this extremely prolific writer in a collection of essays called The Fine Art of Murder – which I bought massively discounted in 1994 in a bookstore that no longer exists, in Turin. The only library I was thrown out of – but that’s another story.
The Fine Art of Murder is an excellent book, by the way.
Just as excellent as much of what I read by Collins.
And I am a fan of his Quarry series.
I was lucky enough to start with The First Quarry – practically an origin story about Max Allan Collins quirky, ironic, dispassionate hit man.
A guy that comes back from war to find out his wife betrayed him. So he kills his wife’s lover, and gets away with it – which means he just found out a nice profession.
Hired by the Broker, Quarry finds himself killing people for money.
But his hits are never that straightforward.
Collins actually wrote two series – the first and “canonical” one, starting with Quarry, and a second one, more recently, that was launched by Hard Case Crime.
Great series, great character.
Right now, I’m reading The Wrong Quarry, that I received as a gift I think two years back, and has been sitting on my shelf waiting for the right time.
I like mysteries and thrillers, but in moderation.
But this strange twilight days of early autumn require some nice cynical hitman action.
Max Allan Collins is a solid, excellent writer, with a wry sense of humor and clockwork-like plots. The moral ambiguity, the pragmatism of the main character and the often scary nature of his foes, all make for great reading.
One can’t really ask for more in crime fiction.
And I absolutely love the new covers of the series, for the Hard Case Crime reissue of the novels. I have all the novels in ebook but the one I’m reading now, but I hope one day to have the whole series on my shelf.
For the time being, here’s a gallery.