Just in time to celebrate his debut on the small screen in a Cinemax series, veteran hit man Quarry (Primary Target, 1987, etc.) returns to bookstores to execute a contract on a noted civil rights leader.
He’s using the name John Blake for the assignment, but that doesn’t much matter, since Quarry’s not his real name either. And this time not even a purse of $25,000 makes him eager to pull the trigger on the Rev. Raymond Wesley Lloyd. What overcomes his scruples are his broker’s assurances that although Lloyd may have found Jesus during his prison term, he didn’t lose his affinity for drugs, which he’s now peddling to finance the St. Louis Civil Rights Coalition and, incidentally, his campaign on behalf of Sen. George McGovern’s hopeless candidacy for the presidency. Partnered again with Boyd, a facilitator whose homosexuality sparks some back and forth that seems suspiciously ahead of its time for 1972, Quarry settles with his confederate into a nondescript house also tenanted by Becky, a local waitress whom he saves from a pair of louts who paw her and who rewards him for his chivalrous rescue with unfettered access to the body she shrank from having pinched. His fling with Becky soon alerts Quarry to the unwelcome news that his client may be loathsome Cmdr. Zachary Taylor Starkweather, founder of the White Christian Freedom Party—and that the contract he’s accepted may not be the only one taken out on the target.
The inevitable friction between killers with very different agendas pays off in gory scenes and tawdry revelations that won’t shock a soul. But historical-noir specialist Collins (Better Dead, 2016, etc.) provides appropriately retro pulpy pleasures along the way.