Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.
I discovered Quarry quite recently with the Cinemax series. I like the style of the show and the characters, but they were not developed in a satisfactory way, in my opinion. Mainly, we just learn to understand Quarry, from where he was coming to where he is going, but it’s not the same with the other important figures in his life. I suppose that the idea is to keep some stuff for the second season. That said, I’m pretty sure the show will never cover all of the books, mainly because I’m not even sure there will be more episodes. So, the best way to explore the world of Quarry is to jump right into Max Allan Collins’ books.
What is Quarry about?
Quarry is a pulp fiction about a US Marine sniper returning from the Vietnam War. He finds his wife in bed with another man and, after dropping a car on her lover, he finds himself unemployable. His proficiency at killing interests a middleman known as the Broker, who runs a murder-for-hire operation. After an assignment, Quarry gets back to the place he was using as a lookout where he found out his partner is dead – and the money they were paid was also stolen. Quarry got himself a new mission, he must learn who hired him and makes him pay.
That’s only the beginning of the first book. Maybe it’s a spoiler, but Quarry survives and lives on to kill more people. Quarry uses the Broker’s list of targets to reimagine the business: Quarry will alert the intended victims of their situation and offer to guard them.
Quarry Books in Order:
There was not always a new Quarry every year. In fact, for a long time, Max Allan Collins didn’t write new novels with the hitman, but he came back to it. That’s mostly why the first four books compose a tetralogy. That said, each book can be read as a stand-alone. Let’s begin with a reading guide in publication order. After that, there will be a reading order for those of you who prefer a chronological approach.
- Quarry – also known as The Broker. It’s always a good option to start at the beginning, with the first book.
- Quarry’s List – also known as The Broker’s Wife. Quarry is being stalked by two killers. After surviving the encounter, he follows a lead to Davenport, Iowa, where his efforts to stay alive are complicated by an attractive woman who crosses his path.
- Quarry’s Deal – also known as The Dealer. After lying low for a while, Quarry picks a name of the Broker’s list and heads to Florida to check out the intended victim of a killer called Glenna Cole. He follows her to West Lake, Iowa, and ends up mixing the personal with the professional.
- Quarry’s Cut – also known as The Slasher. Quarry offers to Jerry Castile, a prominent director of pornographic films who’s hoping to shift to more legitimate work (and who’s rumored to have directed snuff films) to protect him. Castile accepts, but with the crew of his current movie trapped inside by a snowstorm, bodies begin to pile up.
- Quarry’s Vote – also known as Primary Target, another good entry point in the series. Quarry has retired from the murder business and is now happily married and a business owner. One Day, a stranger who knows all about his past offers Quarry a million dollars to take out presidential candidate Preston Freed. He refuses. Soon after, Linda and her brother are murdered. Quarry wants revenge.
This book was published ten years after Quarry’s Cut. After Quarry’s Vote and during the ’90s, there were only short stories.
- A Matter of Principal – originally published in 1989 in the anthology book “Stalkers“. This story is basically the beginning of The Last Quarry.
- Quarry’s Luck – originally published in 1994 in the anthology book “Blue Motel“.
- Guest Services – originally published in 1994 in the anthology book “Murder Is My Business“.
All three can be found in Quarry’s Greatest Hits (out-of-print), a Quarry collection regrouping Primary Target and those short stories
A new trilogy! 30 years after the first publication of a Quarry Story, Max Allan Collins started to publish new material. More specifically, it began with a new trilogy of sorts and you too can start here. It’s clearly a good entry point, especially The First Quarry which is basically a prequel.
- The Last Quarry – For the hitman comeback, Collins wrote what looks like Quarry’s last job. A media magnate has lured Quarry into one last lucrative assignment. The target is a beautiful young librarian. But why her? Why him?
- The First Quarry – After the last job, we are going back to the beginning with Quarry’s first job: infiltrating a college campus and eliminating a professor whose affair with one of his beautiful, young students is the least of his sins…
- Quarry In The Middle – After the first and the last job, we are going back in the middle with Quarry. Precisely, the story takes place after Quarry’s Cut. When two Godfathers set out to bump each other off, guess who winds up with both contracts…
After Quarry In The Middle, we continue to follow Quarry in the past basically. Max Allan Collins travels through time and delivers stories in a non-chronological way.
- Quarry’s Ex – This story takes place a few years after the events of Quarry’s Cut and before The Wrong Quarry. Quarry finds himself on the set of a mob-financed B-movie shoot in order to save a movie director who has married his ex-wife.
- The Wrong Quarry – This time Quarry finds himself zeroing in on the grieving family of a missing cheerleader. Does the hitman’s hitman have the wrong quarry in his sights?
- Quarry’s Choice – The story is set in the early ’70s when Quarry worked for the Broker. When the Broker is almost killed by an assassin, he hires Quarry to find out the person who has attempted to kill him.
- Quarry In The Black – Back to the ’70s! Quarry is hired to kill Reverend Raymond Wesley Lloyd, a Civil Rights crusader and campaigner for the underdog political candidate. But when a hate group turns out to be gunning for the same target, Quarry starts to wonder just who it is he’s working for.
- Quarry’s Climax – Memphis, 1975. “Raunchy” doesn’t begin to describe Max Climer’s magazine, Climax, or his all-hours strip club, or his planned video empire. But someone has hired a killer to end Max’s career permanently. Only another hit man, Quarry, can keep Climer from becoming a casualty in the Sexual Revolution.
- Quarry’s War – It’s a comic book, not a novel. Quarry receives details of his latest target from The Broker. It’s an assignment that will see his past as a U.S Marine sniper come back to haunt him…
- Killing Quarry – Quarry has spent the past decade killing for money and he’s always been on the right side of those contract kills—until now. It seems someone has taken out a contract on Quarry himself. But who? And why? And how does a mysterious figure from his past figure in? Quarry will find the answer—or die trying.
Quarry returns for his final act, bringing the hitman’s decades-long saga right up to the present day.
- Quarry’s Blood – The professional hitman known as Quarry has put killing behind him. But after a beautiful writer of true-crime bestsellers drops by to announce he’s the subject of her next book, killers descend to give him some of his own deadly medicine, forcing Quarry to journey into his bloody past to find the answers — and settle old scores.
How to read Quarry in chronological order?
- The First Quarry
- Quarry’s Choice
- Quarry’s War
- Quarry In The Black
- Quarry’s Climax
- Quarry’s List
- Quarry’s Deal
- Quarry’s Cut
- Quarry’s Ex
- The Wrong Quarry
- Quarry In The Middle
- Killing Quarry
- Quarry’s Vote
- The Last Quarry
- Quarry’s Blood
Did I make a mistake? Did I forget something? To help me to complete this reading guide, leave a comment!
If you like Quarry, you may also want to read Max Allan Collins’s Nathan Heller series or discover our Parker reading order.