My friend Otto Penzler, who published the first three Spillane/Collins “Mike Hammer” novels at Harcourt, asked me to develop a bibliophile novella for him. He has a series of these small books that are sold exclusively through his Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan. The story, called “It’s in the Book,” has Mike Hammer searching for…a book. I think it’s one of best the short stories I’ve developed from Mickey’s shorter Hammer fragments, and you can order it here for $4.95.
There’s also a signed limited hardcover edition for $100, for the more demented among you. You can find it at the Mysterious Bookshop website.
Courtesy of Iowa-based stand-up comic Dwayne Clark (he’s terrific) comes this screen cap of Chris Christie. No political point here, just bragging on how a certain title of mine has gotten into the language.
The WRONG QUARRY reviews, mostly raves, keep rolling in. Very good response to this one. It’s been interesting and a little odd to have all this discussion of what is from my perspective the previous Quarry novel while I am working on the current one. It’s especially odd because a lot of the reviews focus on the “list” approach of WRONG QUARRY, whereas QUARRY’S CHOICE takes place while Quarry is still working for the Broker. When he’s a hitman killing citizens and not a hitman killing other hitmen.
One reviewer, generally a fan of my work, has trouble with Quarry himself. That he talks to the reader. That he seems fairly normal. That he is a killer. I get this, and always knew the character would not work for all of my readers. Going back to the character’s creation in the early ‘70s, Quarry is perhaps the first series protagonist with PTSD. He is us, post-Vietnam – numb, less human while still recognizably human. The arc of almost any Quarry novel is the character starting as a cold killer, meeting a good woman, and becoming something more like who he’d been pre-Vietnam. But faced at the conclusion with a decision that could be answered any number of ways (one of them violence), he will always choose violence. Like America, that war ruined him.
I understand that readers who like Mallory or Heller (or the ANTIQUES series!) may find Quarry a hard go. The books are black comedies, and he is not a hero in the traditional sense. He’s not even an anti-hero in the traditional sense. I like it when readers are disturbed or uncomfortable with him and his behavior. When in 1972 I showed the first two chapters of QUARRY to my workshop class at the University of Iowa, many students objected to Quarry killing a man dispassionately in chapter one and screwing a woman dispassionately in chapter two. I just smiled and said, “That was the point – bang bang.”
Also, there are Quarry fans who don’t like Heller and really don’t like Mallory (and would probably puke reading an ANTIQUES novel). I’m okay with that. You don’t have to like everything on the restaurant’s menu. But do keep in mind that I primarily write melodrama, and that I don’t necessarily approve of everything that my protagonists do. Do you really think Mike Hammer and I vote for the same candidates?
Well, that’s unfair. Mike Hammer doesn’t vote.
Not even for Chris Christie.
Let me share some of these mostly incredible WRONG QUARRY reviews, starting with this rave from Book Reporter.
Another nice one can be seen at the Eloquent Page, though I hardly agree with the reviewer that Quarry is depicted as “a real man’s man, all booze, violence and broads.” Mostly he drinks Cokes, and he doesn’t really think about women in those terms. Violence – okay, you got me there.
As a guy who never served in the military, I love it when a military.com reviewer digs Quarry. (Quarry was, as I mentioned, in part based on my late friend Jon McRae, who served many tours in Vietnam as a Marine.)
The Mystery People folks chose THE WRONG QUARRY as one of their three picks for January.
Here’s a cool one from Nerd Like You. I love it when nerds like my stuff – I was one before it became cool.
Here’s a very intelligent write-up from Mystery Maven.
And another great one from Terry Ambrose.
Geek Hard finds THE WRONG QUARRY righteous.
This brief, positive review prefers Heller and Mallory to Quarry, and recommends Mallory as the place to start with my work. As I mentioned above, I can see that a Mallory fan might struggle with Quarry.
And Nerds of a Feather likes THE WRONG QUARRY, too.
The mixed review I discussed above can be seen here. You have to admire a balanced approach like this – so easy these days to write a rave or a pan.
Finally, on a non-Quarry note, here’s a scan of a BATMAN story courtesy of current fans who like my work on that feature. Bless you, my children!