A gripping insight into the life of a paid assassin from the author of the Matt Scudder mysteries The hit man of the title, Keller, tells his story episodically job by job. His tasks come as and when and with little warning. The call comes, he visits his paymaster to collect instructions, he travels to the hit's home city, does the job, returns. ...
A gripping insight into the life of a paid assassin from the author of the Matt Scudder mysteries The hit man of the title, Keller, tells his story episodically job by job. His tasks come as and when and with little warning. The call comes, he visits his paymaster to collect instructions, he travels to the hit's home city, does the job, returns. Often he likes the town he visits - enough even to look into real estate prices, but he always returns to New York City, to the chance of another job. Nothing changes until he begins visiting a therapist - a man who after a number of visits works out what our hero does for a living. He proposes a hit - he wants a woman killed. But in doing his job, Keller realises that he has been used and returns to take revenge on the therapist. The upshot is that in killing his therapist Keller orphans a dog. The dog needs a home, Keller provides 1, prompting the next major change in his life. When he goes away Keller needs a dog walker...finding a suitable candidate is easy enough, but before long she's resident in his flat and a whole new set of life rules are looking Keller in the face. Can he keep his job - can he keep his dog and his lover once they know what he does for a living?
Keller is a killer with style. These short, but connecting stories, help to develope Keller's personality. Makes you want to read more.
Sep 24, 2009
Another good Block novel
I like all of his books, he writes a compact novel and it's easy to read, particularly on a plane or train.
Jan 24, 2008
Not a traditional hitman novel
I found this book to be very entertaining. After reading it, I immediately ordered the next two books in the series. It should be pointed out that the book does not follow the typical formulaic approach of most novels. It is more a gathering of short stories linked together. Still, it is an engaging book with the protagonist having to keep all of his quirky thoughts to himself, because of his profession. The moral code he has created for himself (though he would never call it a code) is unconventional by normal standards. He thinks nothing of perfoming his job (killing another person), and never attempts to justify his work beyond taking pride in what he does and being professional. The violence is often understated and left more to the minds of the reader. The book is quite humorous and can often have you relate or feel sympathetic to a professional killer. If you can get past the point that there is no real plot to the book, but mainly about a professional killer, and the life he lives on the job and off, than I would highly recommend reading this book.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-11-10 Keller, the protagonist of this smoothly integrated story collection, is a gun for hire. Every so often a mystery man in White Plains, N.Y., calls him through an amiably efficient assistant, Dot, and arranges for him to go somewhere and, for a fee, kill someone. Block, author of the Matt Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries, describes Keller's labors with an absolute minimum of flash and gore. A quiet, thoughtful man, Keller is very good at his job, but it gives him a great deal of time for reflection. In the opening story, "Answers to Soldier," Keller goes to a little town in Oregon in pursuit of a man who seems perfectly harmless and decent and gets to wondering what it might be like to settle there, perhaps marry the waitress in the little restaurant where he takes his solitary meals, buy a home. He meets and takes a fancy to other women along the way; at one stage acquires a dog (and an attractive dog-walker to care for the animal while he's away on his "business" trips); and eventually takes up stamp collecting as a hobby. On one occasion, he kills the wrong man and has to set things to rights; on another, client and victim are the same person; when Keller decides to go into analysis, it doesn't end well for the analyst. The stories are ingenious, constantly surprising and, because of the startling originality of the idea, oddly unsettling. All Block's narrative skills, and his matchless ease with off-center conversations, are on display, and the collectionæwhich contains both previously published and unpublished storiesæis a splendid way to get a Block fix while awaiting the next Rhodenbarr or Scudder. (Feb.)
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