Quarry’s Climax, the fourteenth title in Max Allan Collins’ revitalized Quarry series, is set in the Highland Strip area of Memphis in the autumn of 1975. The Memphis setting is a “hat tip” to the Cinemax television series based on the novels, which relocated Quarry from his literary Midwest roots to the birthplace of the blues. Quarry, a contract killer, is given the unusual assignment of stopping a hit on Max Climer. Climer is a strip club owner that expanded his business to publish the very adult and very raunchy Climax Magazine, and someone wants him very dead.
Quarry’s business agent, The Broker, is an investor in Climer’s enterprises and he wants Quarry to thwart the hit, and then determine who ordered it. The list of potential suspects is long. Climer is a target of women’s rights groups, religious groups, and business rivals. The Broker sends Quarry undercover as a security consultant, which gives him free access to Climer’s offices and the strip joint below, The Climax Club. The music is blaring, the girls are willing, and Quarry is his cool, composed self.
Quarry’s Climax is a smoothly entertaining tale with sex—Quarry attracts strippers like johns to hookers—violence, and a road map of mid-1970s music. The linear story is told with a stripped-down style, almost like a beer bar chat between reader and Quarry, and plotted with enough twists to keep the pages turning. But it is Quarry, his self-deprecating coolness, dry humor and 1970s social commentary (with a tour guide quality), that makes this one worth reading.