Reviews for Hit Man


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 November 1997
Keller lives in Manhattan and suffers from loneliness, deeply conflicted memories of childhood, and an inchoate longing for things he can't even identify. Visiting a small, sleepy western city, the lifelong New Yorker briefly goes house hunting. He falls into and out of a series of doomed relationships. He adopts a dog and dotes on it, neurotically. He tries psychotherapy. Keller is a modern urban Everyman--except that he makes his living as a contract killer. Block, creator of the wonderful Matt Scudder novels, has really changed gears here. While the recent Scudders are ever-richer meditations on aging, mortality, and human frailties offered by an intelligent, thoughtful, and emotionally resourceful private investigator, Hit Man is slight, quirky, and almost minimalist in style and tone--different, too, from Block's other series, the more conventionally comic Bernie Rhodenbarr novels. Except in the area of murder for hire, which Keller performs with almost complete sangfroid, Block's new hero is almost feckless. A stone killer thinking about calling his dog on the telephone to establish a psychic connection? But in the hands of a brilliant writer, slightness, quirks, minimalism, and near-fecklessness result in superb entertainment. Any library that serves mystery and crime readers should add Block's latest. ((Reviewed November 1, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 November #2
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 collection which contains both previously published and is a splendid way to get a Block fix while awaiting the next Rhodenbarr or Scudder. (Feb.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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