Kemper's Reviews > Hit and Run

Hit and Run by Lawrence Block
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's review
Jul 02, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: crime-mystery, bad-guys-rule, keller
Read in July, 2008

They say that all good things must come to an end, and apparently Lawrence Block decided to follow that conventional wisdom regarding his stories about the stamp collecting and slightly lonely hit man, Keller.

Retirement has been on Keller’s mind going back to the first book, but now that his friend and booking agent, Dot, has parlayed the earnings from contract killing into big stock market gains, it looks like Keller may finally be really getting out of the hit man business. However, a job that they’ve been pre-paid for comes in just as they’re getting ready to move on so Keller is off to Iowa to eliminate one last target.

As Keller is indulging in a round of stamp buying at a shop, a prominent politician campaigning for the presidency in Iowa is assassinated, and Keller’s picture is almost instantly on CNN as the suspected gunman. Since he just spent most of his cash on stamps, Keller is broke, on the run, and Dot isn’t answering the phone. Too late, Keller realizes that a guy who spent his life killing people for money makes a pretty convenient fall guy.

You get certain expectations after you read a series for a while. Even when an author shakes up a formula for a book, you always assume that there will some kind of return to baseline in the next one. That’s why this shocked me about a quarter of the way into it when I realized that there was absolutely no way that the Keller books as I knew them would ever continue. There was an event at this point where it set in that I’d never again read about Keller taking the train to White Plains to talk with Dot about the latest job as they drank iced tea on her porch, or that there’d never be another scene where Keller would stroll down a New York street on his way back to his apartment to work on his stamp collection. And it was very disconcerting.

(I’m making an assumption here, but it’s hard to read this as anything but a swan song for Keller. I guess Block could use the same trick that Max Allen Collins used for his hit man, Quarry, and introduce a series of stories told before he retired, but I think Block is done with Keller.)

If this is the last one, then Block sent Keller out in style by once again having us root for the ‘bad guy’ as the inventive Keller scrambles to get out of Iowa and figure out how he can possibly have any kind of a life again. I hate to see the series end, but this was a great way to do it.
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message 1: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue But wait, there's another one!! But this one is the best of all, even given HIT MAN started it all.

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