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Hit Man (John Keller #1)

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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,090 ratings  ·  253 reviews
2 sound cassettes (ca. 3 hr.)
The Barnes & Noble Review
February 1998

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Lawrence Block has been awarded every major mystery prize. With more than 50 published works, he is considered by many to be the ultimate voice in mystery; The Wall Street Journal calls him "one of the very best writers working the beat." Block's latest novel, Hi...more
Audio Cassette, Abridged, 0 pages
Published November 28th 1999 by Audio Literature (first published January 21st 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kemper
Keller's a pretty normal guy. He does crosswords, loves dogs, collects stamps and buys earrings for his girlfriend every time he travels. And he travels a lot since his job is killing people.

Block did a great job with this string of short stories about Keller that build a character study about a professional hit man who often finds himself dealing with odd circumstances despite his desire to just do the job and get out of town. Keller isn't a psycho, but he isn't exactly wracked with guilt eithe...more
Dan Schwent
Hitman is a collection of short stories about a professional killer named Keller. What sets this book apart from others of its kind is that it's more about what Keller does when he's not actively killing people, what makes him tick. He has fantasies about living in whatever town he's visiting for a job. He has a dog that he's quite attached to. And eventually he takes up stamp collecting as a hobby so he'll have something to do when he retires.

That's not to say there's no action. Keller dispatch...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
I'm completely embarrassed to say that I've read this one before, somehow, in some form. One would think I'd remember a book called Hit Man. Alas, I'm getting old. So what did I do when I discovered my little error? Keep on reading, of course, because I could only vaguely remember details and it is a fast read. What I have to say about memory is that it's very odd to read one long deja vu, and somewhat disconcerting to realize my memory had inserted another chapter. Perhaps I was channelling Blo...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I'll say up front, I fully expected that if I got into this book I'd at best be mildly interested. It is after all a story of a "Hit Man". Personally I don't condone murder either as profession or pass time, so in rating this book a 4 I'm saying this is an interesting book.

It's odd to find yourself at least mildly sympathetic to a killer. When I first "met" Keller he put me in mind of a homicidal Walter Mitty. When he goes somewhere to "fulfill" a contract he tends to start day dreaming about ha...more
Leon Aldrich
Until now, I have never read any Lawrence Block. Is that a cardinal sin for an avid reader? It should be.

My penance will just have to be more Block...
Chris
This was a cool introduction to a new (to me) series by Lawrence Block. It's about, as the title suggests, a hit man named Keller.

Each chapter is an assignment for Keller, so it's like a series within a single book. This style kept it from ever becoming a bulky read.

Or listen, in this case. I found the audiobook and was pleased to try it out with this method. The actor Robert Forster did the narration and I'd have to say was pretty much perfect for this book. He really fit the style of the writi...more
Darren
Hit Man is a pile of short stories pieced together as chapters in the life of John Keller. It's not a spoiler to let you know Keller's a hit man; it's right there in the title.

That's very nearly all there is to him, really. Keller has the odd girlfriend, but he's no suave son of a bitch, leaving a trail of broken hearts and tear-stained pillowcases. He's awkward and earnest by parts, and even occasionally impotent.

He's a successful, resourceful killer, but he doesn't exude violence, nor does h...more
Mark
Hit Man is a clever and entertaining series of interconnected short stories about an aging hit man, who is considering leaving his very specialized career. Keller is a hit man with morals -- every killer has to draw the line somewhere -- and many of the stories have Keller struggling with what is right or wrong about that particular hit.

Each story (or hit) deals with the varieties of jobs one might encounter in this career; and each story ties together with the previous stories perfectly. Hit M...more
Matt
Even though I had read a few reviews I still wasn't prepared for the curve ball that Block throws here.

Keller is the hit man of the title and this collection of shorts is all about him as a person; with very little focus on the detail of how he earns his living.

He isn't a stone killer - he's a guy who drifted into a job and has built a routine that fills the gaps between work; without ever creating real roots or connections.

How he seems to long for those roots and connections - yet when he actua...more
Jane Stewart
I do not enjoy watching murder of good/normal people, but it kept my interest.

The only reason I gave this 3 stars instead of 2 was because I did not feel I wanted it to be over. It kept my interest because I was waiting for something more. But by the end, more never came. The character does not change. And there is no overall plot. It is a series of short stories written for a magazine.

It’s a different take on the work and life of a hit man. Some readers will find this humorous, but I did not. I...more
Susan
A philosophical gun for hire who thinks of himself as whimsical. Because of his profession any chance of friends or a relationship is unlikely which, of course, leaves him a bit lonely. This is told from his thoughts, how he perceives his profession and the people who pass through his life. He does have a twisted version of a moral compass and does not take himself too seriously. All in a days work, so to speak. It was interesting how easy the author made it to become attached to a ruthless kill...more
Ivonne Rovira
How does Lawrence Block do it? He's the author of the comic Evan Tanner series about an ultra-insomniac CIA agent. He's written the dark and suspenseful Matthew Scudder series. Then he's got the uproariously funny and New York-hip series about Bernie Rhodenbarr, the world's suavest burglar. You'd never think that these three series were penned by the same author.

Now Block does it again with the incredibly inventive Hit Man, a debut novel about a philosophical murderer for hire. You'd expect such...more
Albert Riehle
Solid. Solid writing. Solid storytelling. Solid all around.

First things, first, if you're not familiar with the series, this isn't a typical novel format. It reads like a collection of short stories about the same central character, told in linear order. And it's a character study, really. Each story builds upon what we know about the central character, Keller, who makes his living as a hit man. But the "hits" are just background for the author to tell the story of the man who makes his living...more
Maddy
RATING: 4.5

You know how you take those tests in high school that help you determine what profession is best suited to you? Well, there was never a match for John Paul Keller. It was only when he became an adult that he found out what he was destined to be. His career, at which he excels, is that of a hit man. At various times, he receives a call from Dot in White Plains, contacts his travel agent and jets off to wherever the dirty deed needs to be done. He carries out the hit, no fuss, no bother...more
Mike
I didn't think I would finish this one at first, but Keller grows on you. The Hit Man is a collection of vignettes involving Keller's targets and how he plans to accomplish each mission. The stories are tied together with Keller's attempts to fill a lonely existence between jobs. Good beach read. Already have the sequel.
Mark
This series has been on my to-read list for a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment. It wasn't exactly what I expected, and that added to the enjoyment. Keller is hired killer who carries out assignments around the country with efficiency. He's hired though a broker, and the client is anonymous. The target of course is known only briefly. The book is set up as series of assignments, one per chapter, but the interesting part is the human element Block brings to Keller's character....more
Iowa City Public Library
Lawrence Block is a very prolific writer. Most of his stories are set in New York City and feature an array of series characters. I am most familiar with Matthew Scudder, the alcoholic private investigator and Bernie Rhodenbarr, a bookseller by day and a burglar by night. Block’s latest work features low key hitman, John Keller, who has appeared in three previous outings. In the opening of Hit and Run, the latest effort, Keller is in (you’ll like this one!) Des Moines doing one last job before r...more
The Nate Gatsby
Entertainment value: 6/20

I found the majority of this book either confusing or boring. There are long stretches of the book where nothing important happens and even about 20 pages in which the main character takes up stamp collecting.

Readability: 8/20

This book was a challenge to read. Not only was the main character, Keller, changing his name a lot because he was a hit man, but also he was in new places and meeting new people every 20 pages or so. It made it very hard to remember who was who an...more
Beth
I'd read a bad review on this book, so it was stuck in my head that I wasn't going to like it much, and it did take me a few chapters to get into it. However, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the others in the series.

Keller is a hit man who's good at his job, flying into a town, watching his hit for a day or two and then finishing the job cleanly and then heads back to his leisurely life in between the jobs. He's struggling with how he feels about his mother, so he sees a therap...more
Jason Edwards
I stumbled across Lawrence Block when I was a young man, one of the Burglar novels. I read all of the ones I could find, and anything else I could find by him, mostly in libraries and used bookstores. (I eschewed the Matthew Scudder novels, however, as I couldn’t find the first one and didn’t want read them out of order). As a result, Block ended up having a fairly significant influence on me as a reader. Books had to be clever without being too self-indulgent, serious without being maudlin and...more
Brendan
This is the third collection I’ve read about John Keller, hit man. Alas, it is the first book in the series, and while the other two don’t really depend on chronology to establish themselves, they regularly refer to the events from this book as the history behind Keller. In particular, this book establishes his aversion to long-term relationships, his working relationship with Dot, and his philately. So anyone who hasn’t read any of the Keller books, I’d start with Hit Man.

What makes these stori...more
Laura de Leon
4.5 stars

Who would have thought that these tales of the life of a hit man would be so much fun? Certainly, my (very limited) experience with Lawrence Block didn't set my expectations in the right direction.

Keller is a hit man, but this career leaves him with a lot of time on his hands. The rather unique way he ends up with a dog, his new hobby of stamp collecting, the unexpected side effects of an impromptu rescue of a drowning boy... These stories are interwoven with reports of his job tasks, w...more
Ensiform
Keller, a reflective hit man, lives an isolated life in New York City, traveling across the country a few times a year to kill people. Sometimes he kills the wrong people by mistake, and sometimes he has to kill people whom he hasn’t been contracted for. Block wrote about Keller for a few years in short story form before releasing this book, which is perforce an episodic novel. Each chapter is self-contained, although each one builds on the events of the last.

I suppose I expected something a lit...more
Luci Lytle
I read this one over and over. Keller is a contract killer and he travels for work, a lot. He often finds himself in a town or city thinking "I could live here" as do Justina and I. We don't do the killing part (to bad art doesn't pay that well) but we could live anywhere - and sometimes have found ourselves living in places we never thought about living, like Fresno or San Diego. We've even considered changing our last name to Keller. He's a nice guy whom we like to hang out with from time to t...more
Perry Whitford
Keller travels all across the United States, a patient, sedentary life of airport lounges, flights, hired cars and hotel stays (preferably those with HBO), casually carrying out his job of hired hit man whilst musing idly on innocuous things, such as the various names of roofing features and just how long it would take to ride a thousand miles on a horse.
Keller kills anyone for a fee, regardless of who or why. He even kills the wrong people by accident, as well as the wrong people on purpose. Su...more
Ruth Turner
After reading Hit and Run first, this one was rather different. It took me a while to figure out that unlike Hit and Run, this book is a series of self-contained chapters about the same central characters.

Unlike other reviewers of these books, I don't have a problem with reading about a hit man. It is fiction, after all. And Keller is hardly a hardened assassin. He's quirky and likeable, with his own set of values.

I loved it and going straight on to Hit List.
Andy
Since I am so into the Scudder books I thought that it would only be natural to check out the Keller books by Block. My assessment? The first one at least is much, much different than the Scudder series. Keller is a hit man, but he is not your typical hit man. He sees this purely as a job (I guess I don't really know what a hit man is like, so I probably am sticking my foot in my mouth with the typical comment, but who knows, he doesn't seem typical to me), and he goes to the town, knows his tar...more
Jessica
It's hard to call this a mystery or a thriller because it's much more character-driven than most in these genres. Structured almost as a series of linked short stories, the pleasure of this one comes from the way Keller approaches his titular job as if he were a pale, clip-on-tie-wearing roving auditor rather than a contract killer. Definitely looking forward to more in this series.
Charles Benoit
Re-read this book after 14 years - still as good as I remembered. The narrative style is loose and almost rambling, but that's what makes it different. It's got little to do with the Hits and everything to do with the Man.
Alice Segura
I can't get enough of Keller. He is a hit man with a heart. Lawrence Block is one of my fav authors and he never fails to satisfy. This is a "you can't put it down" story.
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Assassin/Hitman Fiction 1 14 Sep 10, 2013 03:42PM  
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2002.

From his web site:

I'm told every good author website needs a bio, so here's mine:

"Lawrence Block's novels range from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (A Drop of the Hard Stuff) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar on the Prowl), while other characters include the globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanne...more
More about Lawrence Block...
The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1) Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5) When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6) Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Rhodenbarr, #1) A Dance At The Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder, #9)

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