I get the nicest emails from readers. Here’s what Nathaniel wrote:

It was the fall of 1999, and I was caring for my dying 100-year-old grandfather. I didn’t get out much because of that, but when I did I was sometimes dating a woman who also enjoyed mysteries. Blockaholic that I am, I’d just purchased and devoured Hit Man. Naturally, I lent my copy to my friend with the most enthusiastic recommendation.

“You’ll really enjoy this!”

hitman“What’s it about?” OK, maybe she wasn’t the brightest of bulbs.

“Just read it,” says I.

Next time I saw her – some weeks later – I asked what she thought of the book.

“I haven’t read it yet. I lent it to my daughter’s boyfriend.  He’s in jail and needed something to read.”

And I asked the obvious: “What’s he in jail for?”


“Uh – you don’t know what the book’s about, right?”

“No—I said I didn’t read it.”

“Did the title give you any hint?”


Thus ended that relationship. And no, I never got my copy back. I just hope he’s still in the clink.

Amen to that. And I  just hope he didn’t think the book was an instructional manual…