PRIMARY TARGET by Max Allan Collins


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Collins, prolific (Spree, p. 1255, etc.) if not otherwise impressive, here adds a fifth episode--the first in hardcover--to his series about a professional hit-man named Quarry. Now retired, living outside of Chicago with pregnant wife Linda, Quarry is approached by a stranger who offers him $1 million--for the assassination of ""lunatic fringe"" presidential-candidate Preston Freed. Quarry declines. . .and comes home a week later to find Linda and her gay brother (mistaken for Quarry himself) brutally murdered. The people behind the assassination scheme, it seems, decided that Quarry was a ""loose end"" that needed tying up. So the super-hit-man goes back into action, of course, tracking down the schemers in order to take sadistic vengeance. Though he happily rubs out assorted henchmen, his primary target is the real-estate tycoon, a Freed loyalist-turnedenemy, who's masterminding the still-brewing assassination plot. (""I wanted this fucker. I wanted this fucker."") But there's a final farfetched twist about who's really behind the plot--which gives Quarry yet another victim to terrorize, humiliate, and finish off. Collins adds a few portentous touches --e.g., Quarry's grief-related impotence with a new girlfriend--to this crude replay of a familiar Bronson-esque scenario. But hit-man-avenger Quarry remains stubbornly flat and unsympathetic, with Spillane-ish narration that often becomes unintentionally funny in its adolescent, tough-guy posturing.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1987
Publisher: Foul Play/Countryman