When Women were Broads and Asians were…


Title: Quarry’s List

Rating: 3 Stars

Somewhere (I think on Amazon), I found a list of classic crime novels. This was not on that list, but this book was symptomatic of the things that I’ve discovered. The main issue is that crime books written between the 30’s to the 70’s simply don’t age well.

First of all, the protagonist is pretty much always a white male. He’s quick with the wit and even quicker with his fists and guns. Quarry (the protagonist here) is a hitman by profession. He’s a Vietnam War vet who was never able to restart after his life because of the stigma against Vietnam War vets, so naturally enough, he gets recruited to become a hit man. I’m sure that happens.

The women pretty much serve one purpose. I just finished the book yesterday, and it was a short and a fast read, so it’s still pretty much in my head. As far as I can remember, there is only one female character. It goes without saying that she ultimately becomes a victim that needs saving. It also goes without saying that she almost immediately repeatedly has sex with him (and of course, finds it an immensely satisfying experience).

If you’re not a white male, it’s not going to go well with you. There are various references to Orientals. In some ways, that’s a price of the time. I grew up in the 70’s myself and I do remember that phrase being used. This goes back to the aging well comment. Although acceptable in that time, it’s jarring to read today.

There’s testosterone in the air. Quarry is effectively a sociopath when it comes to violence. Pretty much anyone who crosses him ends up dead. He’s got a little bit of the Rambo superhero in him going. He’s always faster, smarter, stronger than the other guy. He’s never in any real jeopardy at any part of the novel.

So, having said all of that, the book is itself an enjoyable read. Collins is clearly a prolific writer (just check his wiki page, for crying out loud, it looks like he’s written hundreds of novels and comics). It’s not high art, but it’s a tightly constructed novel that chugs right along nicely to its conclusion.

And yes, I should probably lay off the crime novels from that era.


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