LAWRENCE BLOCK - HIT MAN (1998)


Synopsis/blurb….
Keller is an assassin – he is paid by the job and works for a mysterious man who nominates hits and passes on commissions from elsewhere. Keller goes in, does the job, gets out: usually at a few hours’ notice . . . Often Keller’s work takes him out of New York to other cities, to pretty provincial towns that almost tempt him into moving to the woods and the lakeshores. Almost but not quite.
 

Then one job goes wrong in a way Keller has never imagined and it leaves him with a big problem. Finding himself with an orphan on his hands and his conscience, Keller is looking at a whole lot of changes he's not sure he wants...He may even end up sharing his bed.
 
If someone held a gun to my head - Keller possibly - and told me Groundhog Day was here and I was compelled to re-read one book over and over again for the rest of my life, I think Block's Hit Man would be a candidate. I read this one years ago and re-read it in January and possibly enjoyed it more second time around.
Keller kills people and you probably shouldn't warm to him, but you do. I don't think Hit Man was originally conceived as a novel, but was several shorter stories which Block eventually spun together. I think I read that was the case somewhere, but surprisingly this just flows. Block has such a gift for story telling that I'm pretty much rapt every time I get stuck into one of his books.
Keller gets his assignments from a man in White Plains, via Dot. Keller and the old man don't really have much of a relationship, but there's a real rapport with Dot - pretty much every conversation includes some gentle teasing, usually about Keller settling down in one of the towns he passes through for an assignment. I kind of think they would make a decent couple, but hey maybe better not mixing business with pleasure.
In our novel/short story set......
We have a phase where Keller toys with domesticity as his dog-sitter, Andria moves in for a while and they play happy families. Inevitably it doesn't last. 
Work-wise - we have an error and the wrong man gets killed - not an error of Keller's. This is followed by a lull and things go quiet on the "murder for hire" front. Things need shaking up at HQ.
Another assignment sees Keller become a minor local celebrity when he saves a boy from drowning at a poolside party. Probably not the best effort at anonymity when you're in the killing game.
We have a disagreement with our therapist, which may not be the best long term career move our shrink has ever made.
A spell working for Uncle Sam (yeah right) sees Keller get less than minimum wage for his skill set. Eventually the penny drops and Keller's not playing a patsy any more.    
 
Lastly we toy with retirement, but instead take up stamp collecting, and what better way of funding your expensive hobby than killing people!
I could write and rewrite and tinker with this for hours and still not do this book justice. I loved pretty much every word, every sentence, every page, every set-up, every conversation and every death.
Top marks - 5 from 5
Luckily for me there are another 4 full length novels in the series that I haven't yet read - Hit List, Hit Parade, Hit and Run and Hit Me. Good reading ahead! 
 
Re-read in January, 2017
Published - 1998
Page count - 310
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

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