“The first time I encountered Lawrence Block’s hit man, Keller, I wasn’t overly impressed. I finished the book, but Keller just didn’t see to resonate with me nearly as well as other Block characters like gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr or private eye Matt Scudder. A couple of years later, I discovered that one of the Keller books, Hit and Run, took place in my home state of Iowa. That was enough of a reason for me to give Keller a second chance. This time, he quickly grew on me (much like a fungus). I became fond of Keller and have read several of the Keller books since then.
“Several months ago, Block announced that a new Keller book, Hit Me, would be coming out in February. I pre-ordered it immediately, so that it would magically appear on my Kindle on the release date.
“Then, last week, something appears in my inbox. An advanced reading copy of the book. Yes, Christmas came early this year …
“Without further ado, let’s get to the book.
“Hit Me, like several other Keller books, is broken into a number of shorter works. In the case of Hit Me, these are five stories: Keller in Dallas, Keller’s Homecoming, Keller at Sea, Keller’s Sideline, and Keller’s Obligation. While the stories mesh with each other chronologically, they can also be read independently of each other. The final story ends rather abruptly, leaving you wanting more.
“An important aspect of the Keller books has always been Keller’s relationship with Dot, the woman who lines up work for him. Although Keller and Dot go long stretches without contact, she often knows him better than he knows himself. In theory, their relationship is professional. However, in reality, they are very good friends. Their phone conversations often drift into fun trivial tangents. However, other times they discuss the big question: is it morally acceptable to kill people for profit?
“In Hit and Run, Keller was forced to abandon New York City. He ended up landing in New Orleans in the typical “boy meets girl, boy kills girl’s attacker, boy marries girl” fashion. Keller is now a family man, settled down with a wife and young daughter. This makes him wonder if it’s time to leave his line of work behind – but he always seems to get drawn back in. His wife, Julia, is aware of his secret, and she has to figure out what she thinks of a man who kills for a living. The story Keller at Sea gives us a prolonged look at Julia.
“I’m hoping there are many more Keller books in the future. Keller’s daughter (inverted) Jenny is just three years old now. At some point in the future, will she learn what her daddy does for a living? Will she eventually join the family business?”