After an absence of more than two years, New York Times-bestselling author Max Allan Collins brings of his most popular characters, the ruthless professional killer known only as “Quarry,” in The Wrong Quarry. Since his debut in 1976, Quarry has appeared in 10 novels and inspired a feature film, The Last Lullaby, starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander. The new novel sees Quarry going up against an amateur killer operating on his turf. But does the hitman’s hitman have the wrong quarry in his sights?

Quarry doesn't kill just anybody these days. He restricts himself to targeting other hitmen, availing his marked-for-death clients of two services: eliminating the killers sent after them, and finding out who hired them…and then removing that problem as well.

So far he's rid of the world of nobody who would be missed. But this time he finds himself zeroing in on the grieving family of a missing cheerleader. Does the hitman's hitman have the wrong quarry in his sights?

Sally and I had agreed to meet by the front entrance at eight, but I was a little late. My appointment with Mr. Jacobs had been the last slotted, and ran over some. I found her just outside, smoking. The sky still promised rain and it was cold, but if a kid wanted a cigarette, a kid did that outside.

"I hate to see you doing that," I said.

"What, smoking? Why?"

"It's a terrible thing to do to such a nice body."

"Aren't you sweet? How did it go?"

We walked arm-in-arm toward her Mustang. I filled her in, more or less, especially how both Candy and Roger got high marks from everyone I'd spoken to.

We were at her car. She leaned against the driver's-side door, blowing smoke at me impudently. I leaned on the vehicle behind me, a yellow Buick Turbo muscle car. Probably not a parent's car. Somebody young and dumb who dug speed and bad mileage.

Otherwise, few cars remained in the lot, two or three pulling out now, beams cutting the night. Parents, teachers, and kids had mostly gone home .

"I listened to some of it," she said.

"What do you mean?"

"Your meetings. I stood outside and eavesdropped, you know?"

"What did you do that for?"

"Because I'm a bad girl." She blew a smoke ring at me. "Didn't you know I was a bad girl?"

"I guessed."

"I heard you say you've been hanging around with Candy's Aunt Jenny."

"She's been helping."

She put an ugly smirk on her pretty face. "A Stockwell, helping clear Roger? Doubt it."

"Clarence and his boy Larry are the anti-Vale crowd. Jenny has an open mind."

"Jenny has an open everything. Did you fuck her?"


Her chin went up. "I loved Candy, but her aunt's a raging skank. What does she have that I don't have?"

"I didn't know it was an issue."

She tossed her cigarette with an unnerving confidence and crossed the small distance between us, and took one of my hands and placed it on a pert breast and grabbed my package in a firm but gentle if overflowing handful.

Her voice was a purr with claws behind it. "Who do you think taught Candy what's what?"

"Her aunt?"

She sneered and squeezed my balls a little, and it almost hurt, but my dick was rising to the occasion. She pressed her mouth to mine and she tasted sweet and smoky. We played tonsil hockey for a while, and she was stroking me through my pants, a gifted girl who could do at least two things at once. This was ill-advised, but fun. I hadn't necked in a high school parking lot in a long time.


My God, had the principal caught us?

A big guy in a yellow letter jacket with black sleeves came rushing at us, arms pumping like pistons. He'd been inside the school.

Enter Rod Pettibone.

Broad-shouldered, tiny-eyed Rod Pettibone, with short blond hair and a small nose and wide mouth over a shovel jaw. He looked like Moose in the Archie comics, but cartoonier.

"That's my friggin' car!" he yelled.

He was maybe ten yards from us.

And then he was ten feet away, saying, "And that's my friggin' girl!"

He came at me like he was rushing the line. I backed up and Sally plastered herself against her own car, taking herself out of the play, providing Rod the hole he needed to charge through and take his man down.

Which he did, a good two-hundred-twenty-some pounds of him smashing me onto my back into the cement, knocking every ounce of wind out of me. He climbed off and picked me up like a bag of laundry and flung me against the tail of the Mustang, my lower back taking the brunt. Sally, eyes showing white all around, had her hands up like a pretty hold-up victim.

Before I could recover, he hit me in the right side of the head, and my brain spun, then he gave me hard shots in the ribs, on either side, followed by a deep right fist in the pit of the stomach.

I doubled over and puked, which made him back away, not wanting to get anything on the letter jacket apparently, and that's when I kicked out and the heel of my shoe caught him in the right knee. Hard.

Fucking hard.

"My knee!" he screamed, going down on his other one. "Not my knee!"

"Good luck with your scholarship, jackass," I said gratuitously.

And passed out, grinning.

The Wrong Quarry, ©2013 Max Allan Collins. Published by Hard Case Crime. All Rights reserved.