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The First Quarry

(Quarry #8)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  958 ratings  ·  98 reviews

Crime fiction readers know Quarry, the ruthless killer-for-hire, from Max Allan Collins’ acclaimed novels – most recently THE LAST QUARRY, which told the story of the assassin’s final assignment (and was the basis for the feature film The Last Lullaby).

But where did Quarry's story start? For first time ever, the best-selling author of ROAD TO PERDITION tak
Paperback, 204 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Hard Case Crime (first published 2008)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  958 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The nameless main character was drafted into Vietnam War, like countless guys of his generation. Just like countless guys upon coming back he possessed the only skill, but he learned it very well: the skill of killing people.
Vietnam War
A mysterious stranger called The Broker found the broken guy (both in financial and moral sense) and offered him a job to fit his skill. Thus a ruthless assassin nicknamed Quarry was born.

Quarry's first assignment was to go to Iowa city and eliminate a professor from s loca
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: robert-s-reads
I’d say I’ve met my new favorite all American badass, and what I hope is the start of a beautiful friendship. Quarry is a former soldier that doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, and there are enough beautiful dames and plenty of broads to keep even a man like Quarry satisfied throughout the pages of this action packed novel. The abundance of death rivals most Shakespearean tragedies, and the prose packs more punches than a heavyweight bout. Quarry has a smart mouth, and he utilizes all of his ...more
Dan Schwent
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cool-covers, hardcase
Quarry gets recruited by The Broker to be a contract killer. His target: A university professor writing a tell-all book about a mobster. However, things are never as easy as they seem. Complicating matters are the professor's numerous female companions and his soon to be ex-wife. Can Quarry eliminate the professor and his manuscript without collateral damage?

The First Quarry was a good read. Maybe a shade behind The Last Quarry but still quite good. There was more violence, more sex, and more tw
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hard boiled crime and noir
Recommended to Lawyer by: Barnes & Noble Find of the Day
Ernest Hemingway once said, "All things truly wicked start from an innocence." I suppose that even applies to professional hit men.

Quarry was innocent at one time. But being a soldier in Vietnam ended that innocence. Quarry learned to kill, but it was a matter of self defense. It was them or you. Whether taking an enemy out with a sniper rifle looking through a scope or shooting back in a firefight, it was always self defense.

But when you get paid to kill people, you have to be able to put thing
I picked this one up simply because I was in love with the cover. What a great find it turned out to be. This is the kind of thing book lovers like me live for. Not only is this a new series I can't wait to read more of, it turns out this is a T.V. series on Cinemax. Who knew.

Turns out this book is #8 in the series, but it goes back in time to tell the tale of Quarry's first assignment. The time is 1970 and Quarry is a contract killer.This was a wild ride I just loved. The first book in the seri
Hitman books are usually entertaining, and I liked the first Quarry book that HCC did. Even though this was recently written, it's a stone cold throwback to another era. This is the kind of crime novel that people used to buy in drug store book racks for less than a dollar. And it is seriously fun.

Collins takes us back to the dark days of 1970 to tell the story of Quarry's first assignment. Along with references to Vietnam veterans, hippies, classic rock, and beautiful coeds it also has a mafia
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I lament the fact that the quick-n-dirty crime novel seems like a lost art, and that these days everyone wants to pad their opus out to 300, 350 pages, generally doing so by means of extensive romantic subplots. Then a longtime veteran like the always-reliable Max Allan Collins comes along to show me that I'm wrong, and it's oh so nice. Hard Case Crime can also be thanked for this genre's resuscitation, such as it exists at the moment (I'm hoping things are on the upswing--perhaps an e ...more
This was a very pleasant surprise. Fast paced with some humor & a great plot. A perfect HCC book in every way. The characters were well drawn & the action very realistic. The end was marvelous! I highly recommend it to anyone that likes this sort of book. Mickey Spillane could have gotten some lessons from this guy.
Gonna have a hard time finding a good noir series to follow this one (when I finish it in a few days).
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was published by Skyboat Media & can be found for sale at Black Stone Audio's consumer site here:
Read by Stefan Rudnicki, it was very well done. I really like Rudnicki's voice & wasn't surprised that he made this book even better. I was so thrilled with the job Skyboat had done on the Matt Helm novels that I emailed them my congratulations. They sent me a gift of 4 audio books & a tote bag. This was one of those titles. They were right on
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: noir fans
Shelves: fiction, hard-boiled, noir
There's a humor to Max Allan Collins' writing that I find irresistible. His style of prose is simple but engaging. One very common element in hard-boiled detective novels is the descriptions of the clothing being worn. Here's an example:

"She was driving a little red Fiat and was small and fair and pretty in a Breck girl sort of way. I took her for a blond but truth be told she had on a rabbit-fur hat that looked like a beehive hairdo that had gone wacky (wackier) and I couldn't see any hair exce
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
A solid modern noir tale from Collins. I remember feeling sorry when I read The Last Quarry a few months ago, as the author pinned an afterward on that book saying that he was done telling stories of the Midwestern hitman, but halfway promised a "prequel" to the character's history. That ended up being this book and from it's ridiculous opening line to it's blood soaked conclusion, The First Quarry delivers on the promise of previous Quarry stories.

Certainly moral ambiguity is de rigur for a hit
Ken Schloman
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you like hard boiled noir crime novels this is a must read. I'm a long time fan of Max Allan Collins work, from the Nate Heller series through his stand alone books and comic book efforts. The quality of his work is consistently high, which is a difficult standard to meet given how prolific a writer he is.

This novel is a fast read with a combination of violence, sex and humor. Very little fluff or filler. These are the elements that any good hard boiled novel has. It is classic example of pul
Mohammed Abdi Osman
Sep 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: To fans of Noir,comic crime
Shelves: noir
This book has strong first person narrative which is rarely done well in this genre. It was a real pageturner,great fun. The character,the ironic humour was the star of this book. Nice combo of Hardboiled coolness,violence and funny lines,funny character.

It was also surprisingly amount of sexuality that was done in a classy way.

It is easily the best modern Noir book in Hard Case Crime so far to me.
Izzy Corbo
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Completely non-PC book about a smart-alec hit man and his first assignment. A bit racist and chauvinistic at certain points in the book which made me cringe, but looking at the time frame where this book was set (early 70's) and published (mid 70's) made it a little more understandable. Overall this book was an easy gun breezy delight and I would definitely read more adventures of Quarry's escapades!
My only experience with this author before starting this book was seeing and liking the film adaptation of his Road to Perdition (which is a really excellent film if you haven’t seen it, and a refreshingly different role for the usual good-guy-type Tom Hanks) but when I saw this book at my local used bookstore I was like “Fuck it, I’m buying that.” I was not disappointed! Quarry is about as likable as a dude who murders people for money can get. He’s witty, wonderfully angst-free (read: sociopat ...more
Roger Pettit
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the many great pleasures of reading is that moment when you realise that you have inadvertently stumbled on a wonderful writer who is so prolific that they are the source of much more potential reading enjoyment. I had just such a feeling 20 or so pages into 'The First Quarry' by Max Allan Collins. I realised at that point that I was reading a terrific crime novel. So I searched online for more information about Collins, a writer previously unknown to me. (I had bought a copy of 'The Firs ...more
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
This is the last book Max Allan Collins plans to write about his hitman character, Quarry. It's also the tale of Quarry's first job - his "origin story," so to speak. And, although it's the first Quarry book I've read, I'm hoping it won't be my last.

Collins manages to pack a lot into just over 200 pages - enough about Quarry to give us a good sense of who he is and why he does what he does without taking away all the mystery about him; and a vintage noir tale full of twists and turns, only one o
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp_fiction
Max Allan Collins is a wonderful storyteller and it's a shame some of his earlier books (True Crime, True Detective) are so hard to find.

This is the story of a hit man's first assignment. A young, Vietnam-veteran sniper finds that killing is much more profitable in 1960s America than it is in the jungles of Asia. His first job was supposed to be a simple shooting of a college professor who's writing a tell-all that somebody doesn't want published. But, of course, nothing goes according to plan.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What is the appeal of "hit-man" books? Perhaps it's just me, but I like the ones I have read. Lawrence Block has his Keller series (excellent) and Max Allan Collins has his "Quarry" series. I look forward to breezing through them with relish. Perhaps it's some inherent genetic flaw in me, but they are great escapism.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp, hard-case-crime
Lean, mean, and nasty. Though I'm not a fan of crime novels, THE FIRST QUARRY was a first-rate guilty pleasure. The story is good, the writing excellent, and the black humor spot on. Quarry makes for a very interesting character in the way he constantly alternates between being a hero and being a villain. Max Allan Collins is a master at vintage hardboiled noir.
Bryan Cyr
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir
This is my first experience with the Quarry series and I loved it! Look forward to reading more books in this series. Read my full review here:
Jan 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hard-case-crime
I have to cancel my subscription to these guys. There's so much unreleased noir gold out there and they put this junk out. If I wrote this book my word processor would slap me in the face.
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Got this in the Humble Pulp Fiction Bundle, which I paid for.

So my territory I'm used to for these sorts of stories is noir and neo noir, which is to say 'similar but darker.' I also enjoyed some Neuromancer and similar near future sarcastic lowlifes with a great track record for dealing with well funded often morally flexible organizations.

That was your litmus test for whether or not you'll enjoy this book, because Quarry has some grade A sarcastic running commentary that is really the star of
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually enjoy MaxAllen Collins' crime novels, especially those set in and about historical persons. " The First Quarry" was a fairly good story about a hit man on his first assignment. It does have a lot a action and a good setting in the late 1970's with Ford Mavericks and Chevy Chevelles, flared pants, big sideburns and those awful colors..
The protagonist, "Quarry", is far from a smooth, hip dude who specializes in clean, precision hits. He is basically a crude lout who learned a trade in V
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Less than the middle-three of five, yet I might possible read another

It did not hit very favorably with me.
A big part of the reason for that I attribute that the crime fiction sub-genre of hard boiled/pulp is new to me.
The back cover praises mention "The Maltese Faclon". Now I read that many moons back, so memory might not serve well, but I could not say this is in the same category.
What I understand that this author has a very active 40+ years career, with multiple series, collaborations and
Race Bannon Berns
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the first book in the Quarry series that
I've read, but seeing as it is a prequel to all
the others it seemed like a good place to start.

Typical pulpy story but I still found it amusing
as Quarry takes on an assignment and -- as
expected -- things do not go according to plan.

Quarry has integrity despite being a hitman so
the reader will tend to find him very likeable.
I know I did, and now I'll probably read more
of this series to see if others are as interesting
or whether the author fell into
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: x2016-17-season
Max Allan Collins is an author's who's been on my periphery for several years - a memorable essay in a collection here, a glowing recommendation by another author there - but this is the first work I read of his intentionally. This isn't the first book in the series to be published but it is the first in the internal chronology of the main character, and I'll be tearing through the others as soon as I can get a hold of them.
A compelling lead, well drawn seconds, damaged and beautiful femme fata
Jeff Van Valer
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this some years ago. It’s a tight read in the Hard Case Crime Series. Just simply enjoyed it very much. A young contract killer code-named Quarry stalks a mark and gets entangled with a truth he would have thought he’d never want to know. The story is rife with dry with, sex, killing, and unpredictable plot twists. You can almost see the frosted glass and hear Robert Mitchum’s voice reading the text!
Joe O'Connor
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent; Continuing character: Quarry; in his first case for the Broker, Quarry is hired to kill a womanizing professor at work on a book about the client; problem is, others (competitors, students, mobsters, and various women) keep interfering
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2006.

He has also published under the name Patrick Culhane. He and his wife, Barbara Collins, have written several books together. Some of them are published under the name Barbara Allan.

Book Awards
Shamus Awards Best Novel winner (1984) : True Detective
Shamus Awards Best Novel winner (1992) : Stolen Away
Shamus Awards Best Novel nom

Other books in the series

Quarry (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Quarry (Quarry, #1)
  • Quarry's List (Quarry, #2)
  • Quarry's Deal (Quarry, #3)
  • Quarry's Cut (Quarry, #4)
  • Primary Target (Quarry #5)
  • Quarry's Greatest Hits (Quarry #6)
  • The Last Quarry (Quarry #7)
  • Quarry in the Middle (Quarry #9)
  • Quarry's Ex (Quarry #10)
  • The Wrong Quarry (Quarry #11)
“Hi my name's Quarry. I'm in town to blow your favorite professor's brains out. Can you tell me whether you're planning to stop by his place this afternoon, so I can pick a time when I wouldn't have to spray your fucking brains against the wall, too? Thanks!” 1 likes
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