aaawilliepepI’ve been a boxing fan ever since my dad took me to Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium to watch Willie Pep take apart an inoffensive chap named Walter Kolby. It was April of 1946, and I was coming up on my eighth birthday. Willie was 23, and at the time he’d been fighting for six years and would go on for another twenty. The ref stopped it after five rounds, and that was a mercy for Buffalo’s own Walter Kolby, who hung up his gloves in 1952 and took a ten-count forty years after that.

Truth to tell, my Frequent Companion is twice the fight fan I am. So we watch a lot of pay-for-view bouts. A while back she reported proudly that she’d booked the show coming up in two weeks. Why so early? Quoth Herself: “I wanted to make sure we got good seats.”

aaaHITMEAll of which is preface to the news that Amazon is taking pre-orders for Hit Me, the fifth Keller novel coming from Mulholland in February. Yes, that’s nine months from now. But there are sound reasons to pre-order, even this far in advance—if there’s a price increase, you’re safe; if there’s a lower price, you’ll get it; if there’s a UPS strike, Jeff Bezos will deliver your copy in person. But I like Lynne’s reason the best. You’ll get really good seats.

Just so you know…

I thought I’d made enough unseemly noise about HIT ME to alert the entire reading population several times over, but evidently not. It’s a rare day that someone doesn’t ask if there’ll ever be another book about Keller. It’s a natural question, as Hit and Run ended with our lad living New Orleans, in a big old house in the Lower Garden District with a whole room for his stamp collection. He’s got a new career—rehabbing houses—and a new name and a new wife and a baby on the way. How can he go back to being a killer for hire?

Well, he can, and he seems to have made a good job of it. There’s great in-house enthusiasm at Mulholland, the folks who did such an estimable job of publishing A Drop of the Hard Stuff. Playboy, who launched Keller by publishing most of the stories that made up Hit Man, will be including an episode of the new novel in their January issue; for the philatelically inclined, American Stamp Dealer & Collector will run an extract centering on Keller’s activities when he puts down the garrote and takes up the magnifier and tongs.

And Otto Penzler of the Mysterious Bookshop has big plans—a special signed-and-numbered limited first edition of HIT ME, its limitation page adorned with a special postage stamp created for the occasion, “tied” to that page with a custom canceling device. There was a philatelic edition of Hit & Run, well received by bibliophiles and philatelists alike; while it had nothing to apologize for, this new venture is in a class by itself. (1) It will be the book’s true first edition, coming out in January. (2) It will be produced by a top-tier small press, printed on high quality paper, and with its own distinctive binding. (3) It will be fitted with a custom-made slipcase.

In short, it’ll be a collector’s item, and I hope you’ll be moved to collect it. While you can pre-order the trade edition of HIT ME from Amazon, you’ll have to wait a few months to get in line for the Philatelic Edition. We’ll be taking orders sometime in the fall. The best way to make sure you don’t miss the memo, and to stay on top of all Kellerean developments, is to sign up for the Philatelic subset of my newsletter.

Huh? What subset? What newsletter? What’s the old fool talking about, Maude?

I’d better explain.

I get out a free email newsletter at irregular intervals. Anyone who wants it can get on the list simply by sending a blank email to with LB-NEWSLETTER in the subject line. And, because not everyone on the newsletter list cares about either stamps or limited editions, the subscription list has within itself a sub-list of people who do. (Care, that is to say.) So, if you’d rather skip the Philatelic Edition details, LB-NEWSLETTER’s what you put in the subject line. If you want the whole package, make it LB-PHILATELY.

Is that clear? Probably not, but if I say more I’ll only make it worse. Look, if I had decent communications skills I’d have gone into another line of work entirely.