In Praise Of Quarry by Mark Ramsden

Crime Fiction, Mark Ramsden, Max Allen Collins, Non-fiction, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, Televison.

QuarryMost things I like get cancelled or the creators find, like Spinal Tap, that their appeal ‘is becoming more selective’. I can imagine the team behind the excellent Quarry are uneasy at my endorsement, lest it prevent any further projects being greenlit. “Oh no, it’s Ramsden. The ‘Angel of Death’.”

Critical reaction for Quarry was of course very positive, as it should have been. What’s it about? Two Vietnam vets, one black, one white. They return to Memphis, Tennessee in 1972, to a less than ecstatic welcome. Work is hard to find.

The Broker gradually persuades Quarry to become a different type of professional killer. This is one of Peter Mullan‘s greatest performances, so it’s as good as it was possible to be in this part. Mesmerising.

The versatile and charismatic Logan Marshall Green excels as the protagonist. All of the well rounded characters are played by memorable actors. It’s impossible to forget Damon Herriman‘s Buddy, a ruthless gay killer, especially once you’ve seen him lip synching to a Spanish version of Harry Nilsson’s Without You, alone in his pants, music and performance turned up to eleven. Quentin Tarantino just cast him as Charles Manson which will be out soon.

There’s exceptional cinematography throughout, in particular some gorgeous nature shots. As with Blood Simple, I knew ten seconds into the trailer this was going to be tremendous.

In addition to some heart-breaking family stuff and social commentary, some good points on racism and the disgraceful treatment of Vietnam vets, there’s plenty of violence for sad, armchair hardmen such as myself. An Amazon customer thought it was too dark, always a good sign. Someone elsewhere mentioned the ‘bleak narrative’. Well, it was never going to be a musical.

Having said that there is a lot of music, a surprising amount of which is live. mostly really good soul and blues. full length on the dvd.

Take it off her and Put It In Me Tank and the Bangas

There’s also a fine Gospel choir and a bluesy rock band. Six more good live performances than you generally get. Admirable. The original minimalist soundtrack works well without drawing attention away from what’s on the screen, exactly what it’s supposed to do.

The DVD’s deleted scenes are mostly satisfying character studies, dialogues which may not move the plot along but absorbing nonetheless. Although there’s a killing which didn’t make the cut – gritty, sleazy and a little chilling. Surely one of the best ‘big bloke in white underwear in kitchen slayings’ ever.

The abundant extras include commentaries, behind the scene featurettes, music videos. Even the slipcase is beautiful. A highly recommended purchase as are the original novels, five of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

max allen collinsThey could be described as intelligent contemporary pulp, with enough period detail to put you right there. Quarry makes an engaging host. Pigeonholing anyone’s work is likely to elicit ‘yes but it’s also this’ but I would imagine the highly prolific and professional Max Allan Collins will be too busy to ever read this. What they undeniably are is compulsively readable and attractively priced (like Fahrenheit Press e-books, especially bought direct. Come on. Do you want the shirt off our backs?). I can’t imagine anyone leaving any of the Quarry series unfinished.

Max Allan Collins‘ many credits can be marvelled at here,

He has collaborated with Mickey Spillane, written The Road to Perdition, one of these episodes and much, much more. Pretty damn impressive like all of these nine episodes, mostly written and produced by Graham Gordy and Michael D Fuller who also worked on Rectify.

All in all, a deep, uniquely stylish series which gets better with repeated viewings.


From the sublime to the occasionally ridiculous – also bleak enough for the most demanding of tastes – Mark Ramsden‘s latest mystery is Mistress Murder – Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom. “A visceral, comic, sexy masterpiece.”