Note from the Bunker

January 27th, 2015 by Max Allan Collins

As I’ve indicated in an earlier update, I am really up against it in the first half of this year. With only about a week’s break after finishing BETTER DEAD (the new Heller), during which a lot of other business was conducted, I got right on the next Quarry novel, QUARRY IN THE BLACK. I am about a third-of-the-way in, writing one chapter a day, final draft. I took one day a week off, generally.

I don’t mind working hard, and I feel my novels – particularly those in first person – benefit from the intensity and speed of the process. Right now two of my collaborators, my lovely bride Barb and my good buddy Matt Clemens, are preparing their rough drafts of the next ANTIQUES and Reeder & Rogers novels. They make my life and my job much easier, and the resulting novels will be better than I could have made them on my own.

But the writing may mean for some scattered and occasionally, well, grouchy updates. This report from the bunker includes a few stray thoughts.

First, few comments have come in about my favorite and least favorite movies of 2014 list. Probably I was too belligerent in presentation. Whenever you sense that in one of these updates, you’ll know the writing is rubbing up against me hard, trying to make a pearl.


Second, I have now seen both BIRDMAN and FOXCATCHER. Both are very good (Barb agrees) and I was especially impressed by BIRDMAN, which is the rare film that is as driven by dialogue as it is visuals; the cast is outstanding, especially Michael Keaton and Ed Norton, who is spoofing himself to some degree. BIRDMAN would have gone on my Favorite lists.

FOXCATCHER suffers from a sluggish pace and some poor narrative choices, but it is nonetheless worthwhile with excellent performances from Steve Carrell, Tatum Channing and Mark Ruffalo. It would not be on my favorites list.

Keaton is now my Best Actor “Oscar” pick.

By the way, I never watch the Academy Awards. I find the show dull and embarrassing, and many of the movies being honored do not interest me. Is this like a sports fan skipping the SuperBowl? I wonder. In any case, we always watch a movie instead.

Third, a good number of readers misunderstood my rant about getting hit on for free advice. I was specifically talking about my home town and people who don’t really have an interest in me or my work, other than sucking information out of me at a social occasion. On the other hand, with very rare exceptions, I can’t give blurbs anymore because I don’t have time to read the books. Too much research to plow through, and when I’m writing a book, I tend not to read fiction.

I am pleased to report that QUARRY’S CHOICE is racking up some great reviews. Here’s one.

And it’s a thrill to get reviewed at Bookgasm; here’s their QUARRY’S CHOICE rave.


Tags: , , , , , ,

21 Responses to “Note from the Bunker”

  1. Paul.Griffith says:


    You are entitled to rant as often, and as much, as you want! Just pre-ordered the new Caleb York novel. KILL ME, DARLING will be out in March, Caleb York in May and I have the paper back copy of KING OF THE WEEDS coming in June! Keep ’em coming and I’ll keep snatching ’em up. Hope to catch BIRDMAN soon. Looking forward to BETTER DEAD and QUARRY IN BLACK. It’s shaping up to be a GREAT year! Mike Hammer, Caleb York, Nathan Heller, and Quarry. What more could a guy ask for?

  2. Robert says:

    So, I went from being someone who first read your stuff as a little kid Dick Tracy wise, (dates me a little) and recently read all the Heller books. I read Quarry and am now reading Quarry’s List. As the author, do you figure published or chronological order is the right move?

  3. Bob says:

    Great question Robert- I have read and LOVED the Nolan series (not sure why that series isn’t revisited) and now I am enjoying the QUARRY series. I have read Quarry, Quarry’s List, Quarry’s Deal, Quarry’s Cut, and Quarry’s Vote. I am unsure how to proceed. (I am in a similar fix with Asimov’s ‘Greater’ Foundation series.)

    Thanks for all the fun reading, MAC!

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    This is a tricky one. Because I am writing QUARRY novels to fill in the blanks of the original five, that creates a shifting chronology. Because of my developing writing style, it might make sense to read the first five QUARRYs first, then read the Hard Case ones in whatever order strikes your fancy. On the other hand, reading them in chronological order makes a kind of sense, too. For what it’s worth, I consider the Hard Case Crime novels superior to the early ones. THE WRONG QUARRY and QUARRY’S CHOICE strike me as the best of the series so far.

    Heller is also a problem, because I have jumped around in time. To actually read them in chronological order, you’d have to start with the first section of STOLEN AWAY, read DAMNED IN PARADISE halfway through, return to STOLEN AWAY, read TRUE DETECTIVE and TRUE CRIME, then finish up STOLEN AWAY…or something like that.

    I can only say I endeavor to make the novels stand alone.

    Nolan appears to be finished. SPREE really feels like the last book. But you never know with me.

    Well, I have been absolutely no help! You’re welcome!

  5. Ryan says:

    Really loved Quarry’s Choice. For some reason, I couldn’t help reading Mr. Woody in David Ogden Stiers. Probably because of that movie Doc Hollywood.

    Another thing, if it isn’t a bother, has there been any info on the Quarry TV series? I’ve been watching the Banshee series on Cinemax, and it looks like Quarry would be a great lineup with both shoes.

  6. Robert says:

    Ha! No help is a help. Let’s me do whatever I want! I read Heller in published order, so I may as well treat Quarry the same way. Looking forward to Better Dead!

  7. Tom Zappe/St. Louis says:

    I took Quarry’s Choice with me yesterday while negotiating the price on my new [to me] car. I think it put me in the right frame of mind. The cover certainly gave the salesman some thing to look at.

  8. Tim Field says:

    MAC – I agree with you that your last two outings with Quarry have been among your best. Maybe walking all those mean streets with Mike Hammer these last few years has roughed you up a bit.

  9. Bob says:

    Thanks for the reply MAC. I think I will continue reading the QUARRY series as they were released. (Although I am unsure how to get QUARRY’S GREATEST HITS?)

    If any QUARRY fans are reading this, and you haven’t tried out the NOLAN series… do so!

    I would love to know what Jon is up to. (and also ‘Jon’s pal.) I’m pretty sure there is more gas in that tank!

    Thanks again!

  10. Max Allan Collins says:

    I think reading my stuff in the order of when books were written makes the most sense. I feel I have developed as a writer — think I still am doing so — and I believe that would be a smoother ride. But I may provide a chronology at some point of both Heller and Quarry. The Mike Hammer books are designed to fit specifically into the Hammer chronology, so that would be an exception to my order-as-written advice.

    QUARRY’S GREATEST HITS is PRIMARY TARGET aka QUARRY’S VOTE plus the three Q short stories, “A Matter of Principal,” “Quarry’s Luck” and “Guest Services.” I am almost certainly going to put together a collection of my crime short stories featuring all three of those, under the titled QUARRY’S LUCK. It will refry a few stories from earlier collections but will have several that have never been collected, as well. So if you have QUARRY’S VOTE, then skip GREATEST HITS unless you’re a diehard collector. The QUARRY’S LUCK collection will suit you better.

    The prognosis on a QUARRY TV series is good, but I can’t say more right now.

  11. Max Allan Collins says:

    I meant reading them in order reading within a series, by the way — not everything!

  12. Bob says:

    Thanks for the recent reading order advice and HUGE congrats on the QUARRY series!!! I’m very excited, but I am sure you are more excited than I am!

    Perhaps if the show works out as well as the novels, we can also look forward to a NOLAN show?

    (Are you sensing a theme in my posts?)

  13. Jonny says:

    Dear Mr Collins,

    I first read your work in the Johnny Dynamite mini-series a few years back. I absolutely loved that comic. I also managed to read the Ms. Tree strip in The Mammoth Book Of Crime Comics, which is the bed damn strip in a fine collection.

    Recently I got hold of True Detective and it’s kept me hooked on any spare minute I can find. It’s pretty f-ing great. I look forward to working my way through all the Heller and Quarry novels in particular. Thanks for being such a damn fine writer!

    I know you get asked this a lot, but are there plans for the Ms. Tree collections?

    Jonny (fae Glasgow)

  14. We love them for the production of our current circumstances, the computer is much better, as
    it is available, as this exact minute that ridding search pc repair.

    Nerds on Site specializes in computer repairs in london, computer services in calgary, and mississauga computer repair.
    It means you can study well OR you know a lot about computers.

  15. It operated two daily round trip excursions, except on Sundays, on the 65-mile run from the Weirs
    at 08:00 and 13:00, calling at Bear Island, Center Harbor, Wolfeboro, and Alton Bay.
    To take hold of this gentle wisdom and to remember that if I let go and be held by Mother Nature’s ebb and flow that I too will be brought back to
    pools of stillness. In a new media driven world,
    people rely on search, their friends on social networks, and other online
    media channels to hear about things happening in the digital world.

  16. Thank you for another informative web site. The place else may
    just I am getting that type of information written in such an ideal way?
    I have a mission that I am just now running on, and I’ve been on the look out for
    such info.

  17. look at this says:

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  18. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest sites on the internet.
    I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!

  19. saving says:

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking
    for. Would you offer guest writers to write content available for you?

    I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on most
    of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome site!

  20. deals says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this outstanding
    blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.

    I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  21. You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites online.
    I am going to highly recommend this website!