Ah, hello there, and Happy New Year. I suspect most of you know that there’s a new Keller novel coming out next month, the fifth to feature the philatelic assassin. Some of you no doubt read the extract that ran in American Stamp Dealer & Collector. And many of you have already ordered the Philatelic Edition of Hit Me—as I write these lines, we have only 102 copies left of the 500 printed.

I’ll be sending out a newsletter to the full mailing list shortly, with information on how to order the regular trade edition of Hit Me, and announcements of Keller short stories newly eVailable. But first, just for Philatelic Newsletter subscribers, I thought I’d share a recent press release. You may get a kick out of the philatelic tidbits…

“After he’d mounted Obock J1, he called Julia in and showed it to her, and she admired it extravagantly.
“It’s like when somebody shows you their new baby,” Keller said. “You have to say it’s beautiful, because what else are you going to say?”
“All babies are beautiful.”
“And all stamps, I suppose. That’s the original on the right and the reprint next to it. They look the same, don’t they?”
“I bet their mother could tell the difference,” she said.

Keller, Lawrence Block’s fictional hit man, resumed a childhood passion for philately in the final chapters of Hit Man, his bestselling debut. Since then he has become increasingly committed to his stamp collection, putting in long hours with his albums, attending stamp shows and auctions—and all the while pursuing his trade as an assassin for hire.

Now, in the forthcoming Hit Me, he’s a married man, living in New Orleans with his wife, Julia, and their daughter, Jenny. (There’s a reason why they named her Jenny.) He’s making a good living rehabbing houses—but then the economy craters, and the telephone rings, and the next thing he knows he’s in Dallas, and not just because Obock J1 is one of the lots in a Whistler & Welles auction.

“Daddy ’tamps,” said Jenny.
“Yes, Daddy’s stamps,” Keller said, and picked up his daughter and set her on his lap. “See?” he said, pointing at a picture in the catalog, a German Colonial issue from Kiauchau showing the Kaiser’s yacht, Hohenzollern. “Kiauchau,” he told Jenny, “was an area of two hundred square miles in southeast China. The Germans grabbed it in 1897, and then made arrangements to lease it from China. I don’t imagine the Chinese had a lot of choice in the matter. Isn’t that a pretty stamp?”
“Pity ’tamp,” Jenny said, and there the matter lay.

Another phone call brings Keller back to New York, where he lived for years and has to worry about being recognized. And before he knows it he’s on a Caribbean cruise with Julia for company and a philatelic tablemate—and work to do.

Back home, Julia suggests a sideline business. You can probably guess what it is…

“People in the family used to save letters, you know, and in Houghty’s family as well, and some of them go all the way back to the War. A few times I thought some of those stamps might be worth something, and what I ought to do was soak them off the envelopes, but—”
“No, never do that.”
“Well, I guess I’m glad I never got around to it, from the tone of your voice!”

Hit Me will be published in mid-February by Mulholland Books, and will be widely available from online and brick-and-mortar booksellers. Meanwhile, Block has made available a special Limited Philatelic First Edition, printed by a quality small press, published with the imprint of the Mysterious Bookshop, and limited to 500 signed and numbered copies. The limitation page of each book is enhanced with a genuine US postage stamp (via Zazzle.com) showing the book’s cover, and tied to the page with a custom “Keller Cancel.”

In addition, the author has prepared a souvenir sheet, “Stamps from the Keller Collection,” depicting a perforated version of the book’s cover, along with six stamps mentioned in the book—including Obock J1. Two copies of the souvenir sheet (one mint, one canceled) are included free with each copy of the Philatelic Edition.

Just over 100 copies of the Philatelic Edition of Hit Me remain unsold. They’re still available at the original price of $75 plus shipping from LB’s eBay Bookstore. (Click here and go directly to the listing, or search eBay for “Lawrence Block’s Hit Me – limited philatelic first edition”.)

Readers within the US who are uncomfortable ordering online may send checks or money orders for $80 per copy to Lawrence Block 299 W 12 #12-D, New York NY 10014.

Thought you might enjoy that taste of the new book, and a chance at one of the remaining copies of the Philatelic Edition before the general newsletter goes out. Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying the winter weather. If it’s keeping you indoors with your books and your stamps…well, that’s not the worst thing in the word, is it?