I read two books over the weekend about bad men. One fiction, one non-fiction. Both good in their own respective ways.
Quarry 4 stars
This month’s Hard Case Crime tale was one I had actually been avoiding for a while. I find Max Allan Collins to be insufferable. In interviews I’ve read with him, he seems to be the kind of blowhard-ish know-it-all I don’t care for in the crime community. His verbal racism at the Shamus Awards was obnoxious. Really, how hard is it to pronounce “Sujata Massey”? Or to ask if you’re genuinely that flummoxed?
On top of it all, I wasn’t impressed with True Detective, the only other book of his I’ve read. But since most of his Quarry series has been reprinted by HCC, I figured I should try it at some point.
And it was good. Actually really good.
The plot is predictable and the hitman unoriginal but I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who do their jobs with mechanical precision, and that is our man Quarry. The story was tense and compelling too, set in the backdrop of a well described grayish urban Iowa atmosphere. It was a simple crime tale and Collins tells it well. I’m actually looking forward to book two, which is something I didn’t think I’d be saying.
I Got A Monster 3 stars
This is one where the story itself is more compelling than the writing. Being a Baltimore native, I was looking forward to this as I only know the broad strokes of the Gun Trace Task Force case. I really like Baynard Woods’ work. But the telling of the story is dull, leaning hard on recorded dialogue while not really having a narrative flow. Also, while I was glad to get the perspectives of the task force and crusading attorney Ivan Bates, I would’ve liked to have known more as to how the feds built a case right under the noses of the Baltimore City Police Department. There’s a story there. Maybe they’re not talking because the reverbs of the case itself are ongoing? I just felt like that was a big piece left out of the story. Justin Fenton is apparently writing his own take on it and I can’t wait to read it.