Keller, an introspective fellow, is your basic Urban Lonely Guy. He collects stamps. He used to have a dog, until the dog walker walked off with him. Now he soldiers on alone.
It’s his profession that sets him apart. He’s a hit man. He kills strangers for a living.
And he’s a Guilty Pleasure for an ever-increasing number of readers. “I don’t think I ought to like Keller,” readers tell me. “But I can’t help myself…”
Keller’s Adjustment was written in the early months of 2003, in a small ship cruising the South Pacific from Tahiti to Guam. That was far indeed from New York City, Keller’s home base. (And mine.)
I wrote the novella for Transgressions, a prestigious anthology of lengthy stories by prominent writers, commissioned and edited by my friend Evan Hunter/Ed McBain. It subsequently appeared as a key episode of Hit Parade, my third book about Keller—so if you own Hit Parade, you’ve already read Keller’s Adjustment.
If not, or if you’re ready renew your acquaintance, I’m pleased to recommend the novella to your attention. It was written in the wake of 9/11, and shows Keller’s reaction to the assault on his city. And, as its title implies, it’s about adjusting to a new reality. Perhaps it echoes the story Sam Spade recounts in Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, about a man who has a narrow escape from accidental death on his way to work one morning. He reponds by disappearing, and by the time Spade finds him he has recreated his original life halfway across the country. He adjusted to a world in which beams fell, Spade tells us, and then no more beams fell, and he adjusted to that.