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on 10 July 2000
Hit Man is a collection of short stories featuring the professional hitman Keller. Like most of Lawrence Block's other books Keller is based in New York, but due to the nature of his work he finds himself going off to different locations with each story which reminded me a little of Block's Evan Tanner series where he always starts off in New York before going somewhere exotic.
Kellers trips are not usually that exotic and stay within the United States. Each of the stories within the novel are good in their own right and there is no real stand out one as the best. But perhaps because of the fact that each one was a stand alone story that has been collected within this book, there always seems to be a lack of connection with each one and I think this prevents a connection being made to Keller by the reader as would happen with Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr or Evan Tanner in Block's other novels.
Overall, it's a good collection of short stories that don't necesate reading all at once, although it is best to read them in sequence. I look forward to Block's next book Hit List also featuring Keller, but hope that it is an actual novel though featuring Keller, rather than another collection of short stories, as Keller shows a great deal of potential and could become as immortal as Block's other creations.
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on 20 April 2002
As its name infers the is the story of a killer. Keller is a hitman in private enterprise. He asks no questions accepting the commissions as they come. He is not an assassin for the state nor does he work for the 'mob'. His agent is a man we never meet or whose name we never learn. At the beginning of the book Keller is a man with few scruples he will kill anyone for whoever pays him. But life changes and after an interlude with an analyst, a brief affair and the ownership of a dog Keller begins to develop a slight conscience. Only slight of course he continues to do the work he is best fitted for but seems to discover more about the marks and the clients. This is a surprisingly easy book to read and most enjoyable.
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on 17 February 2012
Lawrence Block is one of the all-time greats of American crime fiction. This book brings together several of his short stories featuring one of his most intriguing characters - John Keller - the hit man of the title.

What makes Block's writing remarkable here is that the central character is both amoral and ruthless, yet the author manages to make him likeable and compelling. By the end of the first story you will be rooting for Keller and eager to discover how he will overcome the various obstacles the author places in his way and achieve his goals.

Despite being originally published as stand-alone stories, this collection comes together seamlessly and there is definite story and character progression.

I would urge anyone to pick up `Hit Man'. It is quite simply an excellent and entertaining read from start to finish.
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on 23 November 2014
Blocks books are a great read and Hitman is a good introduction to Block.
The Keller series are slightly different in that they were origionally published episodically for magazine.
Each chapter reads as its own contained short story, ideal as a filler book or for small reading bursts while waiting or journeying, but a good read regardless of the situation.
Bought my kindle specifically for Blocks work as its very hard to get his books physically and almost impossible for earlier work.
Cheaper than a paperback and delivered to your device almost instantly.
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on 22 October 2013
Having read ALL the Matt Scudder books, I was really looking forward to reading this…… it was …. strange I suppose. It meandered all over the place and I had to read some parts again because I couldn't quite understand what was going on. I used to read the Scudder books within a few days but I am still struggling with this one a few weeks down the line. I will stick with it to the end but I don't think I will be buying any more.
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What's it like to be a hit man (assassin for hire)? Lawrence Block takes on that challenging assignment in these connected short stories about John Keller ("call me Keller") who is one of the best in the business. Do you want it to look accidental and occur in 48 hours? Keller's your man.

In the professional ranks, everyone has cut outs. Keller gets his orders for an old man in White Plains. That man in turn accepts orders from other trusted brokers. No one knows who paid for the hit.

The terms? Half down and half on success. The amounts are a little vague but it seems more than adequate because Keller can live a carefree life without other forms of employment by working on only 8-10 jobs a year.

The hits take Keller away from his Manhattan home (near the U.N.) to some pretty obscure places. Sometimes those visits are a distraction and he hangs around to imagine what an ordinary life would be in the vicinity.

But when it comes to his work, Keller is unsentimental, creative and quick.

But occasionally something comes up that confuses matters . . . like the time he is ordered by two targets to kill each other. What to do?

The strength of the story is in taking us out of our lives to see the world through Keller's eyes. The only person he can talk openly to is Dot, the old man's assistant. The rest of the time is pretty lonely. That leads him to become a dog owner, after a strange series of events. But he travels a lot, so someone has to walk the dog. Keller doesn't want to leave the dog in a kennel so he finds a dog walker. One thing leads to another. How close can Keller get to someone else?

Keller is aware that his work has taken over whoever he was when he started. And he doesn't quite understand the process . . . but wants to. This leads him to seek help with an analyst. But how much to tell the analyst? It's a conundrum straight out of The Sopranos.

As time passes, Keller's human side shows more and more. Where will it take him? Dot suggests he take up a hobby.

The writing is beautiful. The plots are intriguing and engaging.

There's one problem. Keller doesn't quite ring true to me. He feels like the construct of an intellectual exercise.

But if you don't mind that falsity in the book's core, you'll have fun.

I started the series with Hit Parade, the third book in the series. That was a mistake. Start with Hit Man instead. It's a better book, and you'll like Hit Parade better when you read it if you've already read Hit Man.
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on 28 September 2001
As its name infers this is the story of a killer. Keller is a hitman in private enterprise. He asks no questions accepting the commissions as they come. He is not an assassin for the state nor does he work for the 'mob'. His agent is a man we never meet or whose name we never learn. At the beginning of the book Keller is a man with few scruples, he will kill anyone for whoever pays him. But life changes and after an interlude with an analyst, a brief affair and the ownership of a dog, Keller begins to develop a slight conscience. Only slight of course he continues to do the work he is best fitted for but now finds out more about the marks and the clients. This is a surprisingly easy book to read and most enjoyable.
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on 9 February 2010
Another great character from Lawrence Block - Keller is a self employed hitman with a conscience of sorts and a pragmatic approach to his work - the dialogue is a joy, with its sharp and very dry wit. To die for . . .
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on 16 May 2013
I liked this book very much.It contains a number of short stories revolving around the exploits of a professional hitman.Very well written and full of black humour.Highly recommended
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What's it like to be a hit man (assassin for hire)? Lawrence Block takes on that challenging assignment in these connected short stories about John Keller ("call me Keller") who is one of the best in the business. Do you want it to look accidental and occur in 48 hours? Keller's your man.

In the professional ranks, everyone has cut outs. Keller gets his orders for an old man in White Plains. That man in turn accepts orders from other trusted brokers. No one knows who paid for the hit.

The terms? Half down and half on success. The amounts are a little vague but it seems more than adequate because Keller can live a carefree life without other forms of employment by working on only 8-10 jobs a year.

The hits take Keller away from his Manhattan home (near the U.N.) to some pretty obscure places. Sometimes those visits are a distraction and he hangs around to imagine what an ordinary life would be in the vicinity.

But when it comes to his work, Keller is unsentimental, creative and quick.

But occasionally something comes up that confuses matters . . . like the time he is ordered by two targets to kill each other. What to do?

The strength of the story is in taking us out of our lives to see the world through Keller's eyes. The only person he can talk openly to is Dot, the old man's assistant. The rest of the time is pretty lonely. That leads him to become a dog owner, after a strange series of events. But he travels a lot, so someone has to walk the dog. Keller doesn't want to leave the dog in a kennel so he finds a dog walker. One thing leads to another. How close can Keller get to someone else?

Keller is aware that his work has taken over whoever he was when he started. And he doesn't quite understand the process . . . but wants to. This leads him to seek help with an analyst. But how much to tell the analyst? It's a conundrum straight out of The Sopranos.

As time passes, Keller's human side shows more and more. Where will it take him? Dot suggests he take up a hobby.

The writing is beautiful. The plots are intriguing and engaging.

There's one problem. Keller doesn't quite ring true to me. He feels like the construct of an intellectual exercise.

But if you don't mind that falsity in the book's core, you'll have fun.

I started the series with Hit Parade, the third book in the series. That was a mistake. Start with Hit Man instead. It's a better book, and you'll like Hit Parade better when you read it if you've already read Hit Man.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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