Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’

Choice Stuff

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Skyboat Media is a new audio publisher, working with the venerable Blackstone. They are doing QUARRY’S CHOICE, and they are doing a terrific launch for it (and will be doing new audio versions of most of the Hard Case Crime QUARRY novels, as well).

Here’s the trailer they’ve put together for the book.

And here’s a clip of Stefan Rudnicki, president of Skyboat Media and a longtime Quarry fan who went after all available audio rights to the series so he could narrate them himself.

But wait, there’s more. They have a wonderful blog entry about putting out QUARRY’S CHOICE and you can read about it here.

It’s been terrific having Quarry out on audio. Last year the great Dan John Miller (of Nathan Heller fame) read THE WRONG QUARRY for Audible, who also put out the first five QUARRY novels, read by Christopher Kipiniak, who does a good job. Speaking Volumes still has Curt Palmer reading QUARRY’S EX; Curt was a very good Quarry, but the earlier Speaking Volumes audios read by him will soon be replaced by these new ones from SkyBoat. Much as I like Curt’s work, I am pumped to hear what Stefan will do, and (unlike the Speaking Volumes versions) these new ones will be available from Audible, where so many people now go to get their audio downloads.

In further QUARRY’S CHOICE news…

There doesn’t seem to be a link to this great BOOKLIST review of QUARRY’S CHOICE, so here it is:

Quarry’s Choice.
Collins, Max Allan (Author)
Jan 2015. 256 p. Hard Case Crime, paperback, $9.95. (9781783290840). Hard Case Crime, e-book, (97817832890857).
Quarry is a pro. He learned to kill in Vietnam, and thanks to his employer, known only as the Broker, he has found a way to keep doing what he does best. It’s strictly business, of course, killing only those who would be killed anyway, if not by Quarry then by somebody else. In, out, and on to the next job. Naturally, there are sometimes complications, as in his latest assignment: the Broker is not just the middleman this time but also the client. A mobster in Biloxi, Mississippi, has made an attempt on the Broker’s life, and the Broker wants Quarry to kill the would-be killer—with a little help from the vic-to-be’s second in command, who covets the top job. It smells wrong from the start: Quarry doesn’t like to know the client (that’s the whole point of the broker’s brokering), and he sure doesn’t like getting to know the victim, as he must do this time.

Quarry really shouldn’t worry. His creator is also a pro’s pro, one of the best thriller plotters in the business—nothing too elaborate or multifaceted or, God help us, literary; no, just violent, fast-moving, clever storytelling, in the John D. MacDonald and Lawrence Block vein. Collins spins a story in the same no-nonsense way Quarry kills people (seven of them this time around, in the course of about 250 pages): “There’s life in you, and then there isn’t.”
— Bill Ott

This review of QUARRY’S CHOICE is not only good, it’s downright blush-inducing for a wallflower like me.

Some nice attention, if not a review, for QUARRY’S HOICE at Shotsmag UK.

Finally, here’s an enthusiastic overview of the QUARRY series, although the writer thinks Quarry has a first name, John (he doesn’t) and that I’ve had ten Shamus nominations (it’s 22). Small details when you consider what a nice write-up it is.

M.A.C.

Choice Reviews!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Quarry's Choice

QUARRY’S CHOICE comes out this week, and I’ve been a little worried because there hadn’t been a single advance review, despite Hard Case Crime sending out a bunch of ARC’s.

Just recently, though, two of my favorite writers – Ed Gorman and Bill Crider – have posted excellent reviews of the novel, one of which is getting some decent play at other blogs (more about that below). But QUARRY’S CHOICE could still use a boost, so if you’re a Quarry fan, and get and like the book, please consider posting an Amazon review.

Also, if you have a blog or some other place where you review books, contact me at and I’ll try to rustle up a review copy for you. (Please, no one tell Nero Wolfe I used “contact” as a verb.)

I thought THE WRONG QUARRY was about as good a Quarry as I could muster, but I have to admit CHOICE seems to me at least its equal. It’s set very early in Quarry’s career (still working as a hitman for the Broker), so if you haven’t read one, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Meanwhile, I have completed the new Heller – BETTER DEAD – and I feel like I fell out a high window, which is not coincidentally one of the crimes covered in the novel. This one is about the McCarthy era and Bettie Page is in it. Do you suppose Heller gets frisky with her? No, I better not spoil it for you….

When I say I’ve completed the book, I should say “completed,” because I will spend the next couple of days giving it a last read-through, looking for typos and tweaking things, hoping to God it all hangs together. I always feel that I’ve got a solid chapter written before going onto the next, but I also always fear that the pile of chapters will not assemble coherently into a book. This has never happened, but I live in terror of the time it does.

* * *

I’m going to discuss something at the risk of sounding like a total prick. For some, that will mean only the added adjective. But here goes….

I have helped a lot of writers in my time. I taught for twenty-some years at a summer writer’s conference, for example, out of which a good ten published writers emerged from my classes. Matthew Clemens was a student of mine there, and he turned out not half-bad. I also taught a summer program at the University of Iowa a couple of times. The great Hugh Holton was one of my students.

So I am not against helping writers. I probably won’t teach again, but I’ve put in my time, and have nothing to apologize about.

But I keep running into a kind of writer locally – I mean right here in Muscatine, Iowa – who imposes on me in a way that drives me crazy. Or at least, I feel imposed upon – I might be wrong (that’s where the total prick thing comes in). Here are a couple of examples.

On three different occasions in the last few months, the same man – friendly, nice – approached me at various functions…two parties, once a dance my band was playing at (during a break where I needed to catch my breath)…and pumped me hard for writing advice. Well, not writing advice so much as publishing advice. This ranged from where he should send his stuff to how to approach the people he would send it to, etc. I don’t know this man, particularly – he was a friendly acquaintance of my father’s. But he buttonholed me three times and pumped and pumped.

What I suppose makes me feel like this is an imposition is this: not once did he mention anything I’d written, not even saying he’d seen the film of ROAD TO PERDITION. He was not a fan. I sensed he’d either not read me or had and wasn’t impressed. What impressed him was that I was a professional who lived in his hometown who he could utilize.

Not long ago Barb and I went to a fall cook-out down the street. A woman from our neighborhood who I did not recognize came over to the picnic table where I was sitting and handed me a five-page essay she’d written. She was taking some kind of college class and wanted to know why she hadn’t received a better grade. At this social function, with people around me roasting and eating hot dogs and S’mores, I sat and for at least half an hour dealing with her, reading the paper, giving her a critique, showing her the good, the bad. Here’s the ugly: when I was done, she wanted to know if she could e-mail me her future papers for my critiques, apparently to have me check them before she handed them in. I said no, I just didn’t have time. She was offended.

This next example isn’t a writer. It’s a nice guy down the street who comes out and talks to me when Barb and I are out for a walk, and who at neighborhood parties gravitates to me for a talk. Generally I find him pleasant and smart. But he continually talks to me about mystery and suspense writers he’s reading, telling me his opinions, which is mostly how good they are – I know more about Lee Child than most people who have actually read him. He never mentions my work. Never indicates he’s ever read me. Finally I gave him a couple of books of mine. He’s never said a word about either (one was TRUE DETECTIVE).

This strikes me as peculiar. He obviously thinks because I’m a mystery writer that I would like to hear his opinions on the genre. But if he doesn’t read me, or have any interest in my work, why should he care what I think? And why should I listen?

The phenomenon seems to be strictly hometown – I can’t think of a parallel with (let’s call them) real readers who I encounter at a convention or at a bookstore (sometimes an event, sometimes just somebody who recognizes me and stops to say something nice about my work).

Do I have a right to tell somebody looking for free help that I’m at a social event and don’t care to talk shop? Or something? Should I ask my neighbor why he wants to talk to me about mysteries when he doesn’t read or like mine?

Just wondering.

* * *

What a pleasure to read a great, insightful review from a writer you admire. Here are Ed Gorman and Bill Crider reviewing QUARRY’S CHOICE.

KING OF THE WEEDS has made another ten best list!

Check out this lovely review of BYE BYE, BABY.

Here’s a very solid New York Times article on movie and TV tie-ins, in which I am quoted.

Here’s a great look at the Disaster series.

I have written an introduction for a collection of pre-Disney ZORRO comic books for Hermes Press. It’s a lovely book and the stories are great fun. This reviewer isn’t much impressed, but it’s still worth checking his review out.

And finally here’s a very nice write-up about my work in general and Nate Heller in particular.

M.A.C.

Bouchercon 2014 Schedule

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
Bouchercon 2014

Here is the schedule of our appearances at Bouchercon on Friday November 14 and Saturday November 15.

FRIDAY

SIGNING: TOR/Forge
Hospitality Suite (Seaview Rotunda & Foyer), approx. 1:30 – 2:30 pm
M.A.C.

PANEL: Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane
Lesser known noir writers of the pulp and paperback era.
(Promenade 104 B), 3 to 4 pm
M.A.C.

PANEL: From Page to Screen
Stories in books, television, and movies
(Promenade 104 A), 4:30 – 5:30 pm

NOTE: NO M.A.C. AUTOGRAPH SIGNING AFTER THESE TWO PANELS

PWA “SHAMUS” Awards Banquet
M.A.C. co-hosting with Barb
6:30 drinks, 7 pm dinner

SATURDAY

PANEL: Must Love Dogs & Cats
Pets in cozy mysteries
(Regency D), 8:30 – 9:30 am
Barbara Collins

SIGNING: Book Room
Barbara and Max Allan Collins, 9:30 am

* * *

Some nice MS. TREE nostalgia here.

Here’s one of the best QUARRY overviews you’re likely to see. Very insightful.

I’ll report back on Bouchercon next week, most likely with pics.

M.A.C.

How We Make The Sausage

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Now in Paperback!

A little more behind the scenes stuff this time….

The writing week began with detailed discussions between Barb and me over the plot of the next ANTIQUES novel, which she will be diving into soon. The story takes place outside of our usual setting of Serenity in a village that was founded by Brits and has patterned itself on their model of smalltown life.

Barb struggled some on the previous novel because we’d been a little too open-ended on our plotting, and this time she wanted to try working from a somewhat more detailed plot breakdown. Lots of back-and-forth ensued, I put my ideas down on paper, and finally she developed all of it into a several-page chapter-by-chapter breakdown. I went over this, discussed some possible changes and additions, and then we locked it. Since then Barb has written a second chapter (we had already written the first chapter, a requirement of our Kensington contract – we have to give them a brief synopsis and a first chapter for approval) and we seem to be on our way.

In the meantime, with my desk cleared of all other writing assignments, I dug in full-time on research for the next Heller novel, BETTER DEAD, which deals with the McCarthy era and specifically the Rosenberg case. Lots to read, and some of it fairly mind-numbing. I find at this age I tend to read a lot, nap a little, read, nap, etc. I was trying to get as much read as possible before the arrival of my longtime researcher (and friend) George Hagenauer. In recent years, every Heller novel has included a preliminary visit from George, who arrived Sunday afternoon around two p.m., lugging more reference books for me to read.

At this point George is more on top of the history than I am. Our sessions often involve fairly heated discussions reflecting our conflicting takes on the material. George tends to be more fixed on the historical accuracy issues (although he’s loosened up) while I am the guy reminding him that first and foremost a Heller novel is a private eye thriller. He is very good at the underlying political currents and at spotting material that can link us back (and in this case forward) to other Heller novels.

Three hours of discussion and brainstorming finally had the first (longer) section of the novel revealing its shape. The story I want to tell was fitting into, and flowing out of, the history. The timeline was behaving itself, too, so that little or no compression would be needed. But the final aspect that needed attention was (private eye thriller, remember): where will the sex and violence come from?

However much the Heller novels are historically accurate, and outpace other such novels, they still need to have the classic hardboiled PI elements – murder, lust, betrayal, action…the good stuff. So the conversation turned to: who’s trying to stop Heller in his investigation? We kicked around possibilities and came up with something fresh, largely thanks to George.

Over supper at Salvatore’s Restaurant (Barb stayed behind, as George had a cold she didn’t want to catch), we hashed out more issues. Tomorrow morning (I’m writing this on Sunday evening) we will get back to it, and talk about the final section of the book, which concerns CIA dosing its employees with LSD to see what would happen. You know, like teenagers at a party in 1968.

George will probably be on the road shortly after lunch (he came here straight from a Minnesota comic con – and ended Sunday with some comic art trading, which is how we met three-plus decades ago).

By the way, the most recent Heller, ASK NOT, has just been published in mass market paperback by Forge.

* * *

The moderator on my upcoming Bouchercon panel has taken to reading the QUARRY novels by way of prep. He’s even posted this very nice essay on the books.

And check out the Forge/Tor web site where they promote the ASK NOT paperback.