Monday, February 04, 2013

Hit Me - Lawrence Block

If you were to ask me, I'd probably say that I don't care much for books about hitmen. But at the same time, I've read all of Lawrence Block's books about Keller and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them, including the latest, HIT ME, which will be out in a couple of weeks.

On the surface, Keller is retired, living in New Orleans with his wife and daughter, working at an honest job renovating houses, and enjoying his hobby of stamp collecting. Not surprisingly, though, his old profession lures him back in, and he finds himself taking assignments again from his former handler Dot. As usual, these jobs take him all over the country and sometimes out of it.

HIT ME is made up of four loosely connected novellas, "Keller in Dallas", "Keller's Homecoming" (which takes him back to New York City), "Keller at Sea" (his target is on a cruise ship), and "Keller's Sideline" (in which his stamp collecting hobby becomes an actual business of sorts), plus a short story, "Keller's Obligation", which is probably my favorite because it puts a very interesting new twist on the series. These stories are all smoothly plotted, of course, and as has been said before, nobody writes a better sentence than Lawrence Block. There's also a lot of stuff about stamp collecting in the stories, and even though I have zero interest in that subject, Block makes it fascinating anyway. The addition of Keller's wife Julia, who knows what he really does for a living, has made him a deeper and more sympathetic character, which if anything makes the contrast between his home life and his professional life even more interesting. You can't help but like Keller, even when you know maybe you shouldn't.

This is a fine book and I really enjoyed it. It's not necessary to have read the others in the series to appreciate this one, so if you haven't made Keller's acquaintance yet this is a good place to start. If you're read the other books, you'll certainly want to read this one, too. Highly recommended.


pattinase (abbott) said...

One of the best for many years.

Neil Waring’s –Western Ramblings said...

Block is one of my all time favorite authors. Bernie Rhodenbarr may be my favorite character in my entire novel reading history. But the Matthew Scudder books are hard to beat. Fun stuff, great writer.

Kent Morgan said...

I'm with you on not liking hit man books and there seems to be more and more these days.