229 pages. Author's Note.
This was my first introduction to the Quarry series. The protagonist is a Vietnam veteran who came home and put his new skills to use as a hitman. Codename: Quarry. Works for a man known as the Broker.
As it turns out, this was a good novel to jump into the series with. It is set during the early days of Quarry's career, and the author gives you all the backstory in the first two pages.
As the story begins, Quarry is leaving a restaurant with the Broker when a car drives by and someone takes a few shots at the Broker. Quarry takes out the shooter, but the driver speeds away.
Not long afterward, Quarry receives a rare home visit from the Broker. It seems a former client no longer needs their services, and wanted to tie up loose ends by eliminating the Broker. Now, the Broker sends Quarry to infiltrate the Dixie Mafia and slay the top dog, Killian. It seems Killian has been expanding his criminal operation, making a lot of people uncomfortable – including his partner, Colton, who is paying for the hit job.
And so Quarry finds himself in Biloxi, Mississippi, where the Strip is a motley collection of striptease joints, shack-up motels, and sleazy bars. Colton arranges for him to become one of Killian's bodyguards… Can he win Killian's trust? Can he survive life in the Dixie mob? And what about the dancer who's been assigned to 'take care' of him?
This is a book in the Hard Case series, so expect a 'hard boiled crime' atmosphere, a lot of action, and a fair amount of explicit sex. Note that Quarry is not a psychopath (at least, he doesn't think so!), but a professional who follows the rules of the game.
The story does not glamorize the world of gambling and prostitution, especially as revealed through the developing subplot involving Quarry and stripper-girl Lolita. While the character is an adult, Quarry's obsession with how young she looks does get borderline creepy.
Can you game it? The only big fight scene in this novel could inspire some Pulp Crime-type gaming involving a locked-up nightclub, a flamethrower, and a scummy hotel pool! And you could always base characters on those in this novel.
Note that the violence and sexual depictions and hitman subject matter make this novel inappropriate for younger readers.
I found the novel to be easily read, a little slow-paced at first then makes up for it in the end. Memorable characters. Enjoyable.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .