Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Vengeful Virgin

The Vengeful Virgin (Hard Case Crime #30)The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, she was a virgin at some point...

The story is straight out of the James M. Cain playbook. Jack Ruxton, a broke TV repairman, hooks up with a teenage temptress, Shirley Angela. Shirley and Jack plot to rid Shirley of her invalid stepfather and get her vast inheritance. Almost immediately, things get shot to hell...

The Vengeful Virgin is a thrill ride of conspiracy, murder, sex, and insanity. Gil Brewer's prose is similar to Lawrence Block's and the suspense and desperation is very well done. Things start off wrong and just keep getting worse.

The characters are pretty realistic. Even though officially I'm appalled by the idea of a thirty-ish guy and a teenage vixen, but as a red-blooded male... I can see how things went the way they did. In the beginning, Shirley's a sympathetic character. You feel for her, having her teenage years spent cooped up and caring for her dying stepfather.

The Vengeful Virgin is a gripping tale with a lot of twists and turns. If I wanted to get someone started on the Hard Case series, this is one of the ones I'd point them at first.

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Quarry in the Middle

Quarry in the Middle (Hard Case Crime, #61)Quarry in the Middle by Max Allan Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Using information contained in the deceased Broker's database, Quarry goes to the rathole port town of Haydee's Port, Illinois to prevent a hit and earn some cash in the process. As a result,Quarry puts himself in the middle of two casino owners, both of whom would like to see the other put out of business. Permanently...

I'd say Quarry in the Middle is my favorite Hard Case Quarry novel so far. There is a lot of sex, a lot of violence, and the standard Quarry orgy of violence ending. Quarry proves to be a well-rounded character, a scumbag with some redeeming qualities, even if he does have trouble keeping his pants on. There are a couple twists and I saw the big one coming, but neither are obvious.

If you like Quarry, you'll like this. If you've never read a Quarry before, you can pick this one up without getting lost. Quarry in the Middle is easily in my Hard Case top ten.

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The First Quarry

The First Quarry (Hard Case Crime #48)The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quarry gets recruited by The Broker to be a contract killer. His target: A university professor writing a tell-all book about a mobster. However, things are never as easy as they seem. Complicating matters are the professor's numerous female companions and his soon to be ex-wife. Can Quarry eliminate the professor and his manuscript without collateral damage?

The First Quarry was a good read. Maybe a shade behind The Last Quarry but still quite good. There was more violence, more sex, and more twists. Quarry's inexperience was nicely done, as was his relationship with The Broker. Some of the violence was shocking. I have to think things would have been better for Quarry had he been able to keep his pants on but I can't fault him for doing what (or whom) he did.

As far as the Hard Case Crime series goes, this one is definitely on the high end of the scale, a good way to spend a few hours.

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The Last Quarry

The Last Quarry (Hard Case Crime #23)The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Quarry notices a gay hitman he once had a run in with buying tampons at an out of the way convenience store, he gets suspicious. The trail leads him to a media millionaire's daughter being held for ransom. Quarry re-unites the girl with daddy for a price and a few months later, the dad offers him a job. But why would anyone want a librarian like Janet Wright dead?

Max Allan Collins knows how to write 'em. There are quite a few twists packed into this slim 200-pager. I didn't really see the revelation of Janet's true identity coming. Collins makes you wait for the big shoot out but it's almost orgasmic when if finally happens.

The Last Quarry is rocketed near the top of my favorite Hard Case book. You wouldn't want to run into Quarry, the semi-retired hitman, in a dark alley but it's sure fun to read about him.

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