Superficially, John Keller - the urban lonely guy of assassins - leads a normal life despite his profession. He has an office manager, the breezily efficient Dot, who organises his 'jobs' and who reassures his grumbling conscience. He is an obsessive stamp collector. In a blackly comic twist, he even gets called for jury service. Laid back, ...Read MoreSuperficially, John Keller - the urban lonely guy of assassins - leads a normal life despite his profession. He has an office manager, the breezily efficient Dot, who organises his 'jobs' and who reassures his grumbling conscience. He is an obsessive stamp collector. In a blackly comic twist, he even gets called for jury service. Laid back, couldn't care less, morally distanced from his vocation, Keller is an intriguing character. A visit to an astrologer tells him, and us, that he is a gentle man who is simply surrounded by violence rather than being a perpetrator of it. His professional satisfaction, we learn, comes from 'solving a problem'. Taking lives causes him no real anxiety. And then Keller's jobs start to go wrong. Targets die before he can get to them. Gradually he realises that he is being stalked. Another hitman is trying to weed out the competition and kill him. Keller and Dot try to turn the tables but how many innocents will get caught in the crossfire before Keller is truly safe?Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-09-04 John Keller, whom Block introduced in Hit Man, is a killer for hire, with a difference. He's thoughtful, even broody, tends to take a liking to some of the towns where he goes to do his work, dreams of perhaps settling down in one of them one day and collects stamps in his spare time, of which there's plenty. It's a novel idea, and it carried an excellent group of stories in the previous book. A whole novel about Keller, however, who after all walks a very delicate line between likability and horror, is more than he can readily bear, and, almost unknown in Block's work, there are longueurs here. The plot is wryly serviceable?a rival is attempting to corner the market by getting to some of Keller's intended victims first, and clearly has to be disposed of?but about halfway through a certain unease creeps in and won't let go. For all Block's usual great skill with goofy dialogue (here between Keller and Dot, the intermediary who takes the orders for his jobs), it's difficult to indefinitely enjoy jokes about the violent deaths of a number of people who, for all Dot and Keller know, are harmless, perhaps even good citizens, but whom someone is willing to pay to remove. Apparently mindful of this, Block keeps the killings mostly offstage, or with a minimum of graphic violence. But an affection for Keller is an acquired taste, and here it proves difficult to acquire. 9-city author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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