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Hit Man

(John Keller #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,173 ratings  ·  426 reviews
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. Alm ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 1999 by Orion (first published January 21st 1998)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  5,173 ratings  ·  426 reviews

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James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Aside from Matthew Scudder, J. P. Keller has always been my favorite of the characters created by Lawrence Block. Keller is just your basic guy, living alone in New York City and doing the sorts of things that a lonely, single guy would do. But every once in a while, his phone rings and it's Dot on the line, summoning him to White Plains to meet with the Old Man. After reporting in and receiving his instructions, Keller then goes off somewhere and kills somebody.

As the book's title would imply,
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Keller is your standard lonely bachelor. He makes a decent wage, but every night comes home to his apartment alone. He spends his time with his hobbies, watching TV, reading the occasional book… he’s starting to get into stamp collecting. He likes dogs, and every once in a while he has to go out of town and kill someone; but that’s just a job, and a profession doesn’t have to define a person, now does it? Nope. Keller’s your average, occasionally boring guy.

Block’s first collection of short stor
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
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories featuring John Keller, a professional hit-man whose job takes him to different places where he eliminates the target and then return home after that. He is not a typical hit man (the ones you see in spy movies) nor a psycho-path, He's close to a normal person. Keller takes his time in doing his job, waiting for the right moment to strike. He passes time by solving crosswords puzzles, fantasizing about the places he went to (settling down there, having a normal life) ...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
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
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-fiction
A composite novel about a hitman who spends a lot of his time wondering just what it is he is doing with his life, I had expected it to be closer to Block's Scudder novels than the Burglar Bernie books in terms of tone and content, but Block plays it light and observational and somehow makes it work.

He doesn't revel in the sordid details of the act like your common Lee Child might, instead he finds value in his character and the humanity he observes, using the collection of stories to explore h
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally getting round to reading the Keller series after having read all the Matt Scudder books last year. Had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading Lawrence Block and am really glad that I have a new series to read as was suffering Scudder withdrawal symptoms (that sounds like quite a horrible disease). It's not quite as good as the Scudder books but still a really fun read with plenty of unexpected twists. This one is written as a series of short stories but each follows on from and refers to p ...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...
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b, 2017


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 a
Terence M (Restored Disposition :))
Given that Crime/Thriller is pretty much my favourite genre, I am surprised that I have read only one other novel by the prolific Lawrence Block, "Burglars Can't Be Choosers". I did enjoy that book and I equally enjoyed "Hit Man" and its protagonist, murderer-for-hire, Keller. Well written in an easily read but quite captivating style, "Hit Man" engenders something close to empathy for Keller, if not for his means of earning a living and while not really liking the character, I did feel that he ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Lawrence Block is a hard working pulp crime novelist, best known for his hard-boiled detective Matthew Scudder, gentleman thief Bernie Rhodenbarr and hit man John Keller. Hit Man is the first book in the Keller series, combining a collection of short stories to develop this character. This is an interesting technique and Block’s short story book One Night Stands and Lost Weekends remains one of my favourite crime collections. He manages to pack the same punch of a normal pulp novel into a stripp ...more
Julie ( On semi-hiatus until September)
Hit Man was a little different from the other Lawrence Block books I've read. This one was published in 1998.
Keller is a hit man. But, at this stage in his life he seems to be going through some changes. He goes into therapy, then gets a dog, and that brings him a girlfriend. He loves New York and his lifestyle for the most part, but keeps a running fantasy of moving to some quaint small town and living a quiet obscure life. But, he always goes back to New York and his career.
This book is kind
Brad Lyerla
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I sort of liked Block’s 8 Million Ways to Die. It features An alcoholic former cop who accidentally killed a little girl when his bullet ricocheted. So he resigned from the force out remorse. (About 5 cliches there.)

Then I tried Block’s hitman series. Geez. It’s awful. The guy is an assassin. He is some sort of psychopath. His dialogue is about as interesting as what I imagine the inner dialogue of a reptile to be like.

Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Delightful. I thoroughly enjoy Block's sense of humor and the irreverence that he imbues into the protagonist, Keller, a professional hit man who is both likeable and existentially curious at the same time.
Adding this to his thief series makes Block a frequent visitor to my "to read" shelf. Hooray.
Perry Whitford
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.

As he does so he takes time out to do some idle musing on innocuous subjects, 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 w
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2001-reads

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
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, crime
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
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crime fiction about a hit man: his life, the people he works for, and the people he's hired to kill. The chapters originally appeared as short stories in various magazines, and are slightly altered to show continuity and become one novel. There is great character development here, along with alot of dark humor and irony. (Think John Travolta's character, Vincent, in the movie Pulp Fiction - but without the abundant use of F-words.) An entertaining read.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book some time ago but it wasn't marked as read in Goodreads so I bought it and immediately remembered the book and introduction to Keller, my favorite hit man. I have been trying to find time to clean up my data and think I have resolved about 50 duplicates and deleted 100 or so to be read...that led to duplicates and other problems.
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
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ten loosely connected short stories about a hit man - Keller, going around the country completing contracts. The stories are formulaic - Keller gets a mission, runs into a complication and ultimately overcomes it. For a book about assassinations, the hit themselves are devoid of shocks or set pieces. Keller follows the target around, waits for the opportune moment and then moves in for a close combat kill. There is one exception where he poisons the target and that is the most elaborate hit of t ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hit Man - G
Lawrence Block - 1st in series
Keller is your basic Urban Lonely Guy. He makes a decent wage, lives in a nice apartment, works the crossword puzzle. Until the phone rings, and he flies halfway across the country...and kills somebody. It's a living, but is it a life? You've never met anyone like Keller. Keller is a killer. Professional, cool, confident, competent, reliable. The consummate pro. The hit man's hit man. But he is a complex person: understandably guarded and reclusive, icy a
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
How do you say you enjoy reading about a hit man, a killer for hire.? And yet, Keller is likable. I was hooked on this one - and have read all in this series.


Just reread this here in May still enjoy it. Toward the end he takes up stAmp collecting and.that fun to.explore.
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, fiction, block, ebook
Between his trips out of state to kill people, Keller spends his days just like you and I would.  Going to therapy, collecting stamps and ordering takeout.  Oh?  You want to hear more about how he kills people?  Well, you’re in luck.  In “Hit Man”, Lawrence Block collects the first ten tales from the world of Keller – assassin for hire.

As a self-proclaimed “large fan of Lawrence Block”, you’ll have to forgive the fact that outside of his infamous detective series featuring Matt Scudder, I haven’
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Assassin/Hitman Fiction 1 23 Sep 10, 2013 03:42PM  

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Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess (oh, wretched excess!) of 100 books, and no end of short stories.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., LB attended Antioch College, but left before completing his studies; school authorities advised him that they felt he’d be happier elsewhere, and he thought this was remarkably perceptiv

Other books in the series

John Keller (5 books)
  • Hit List (Keller, #2)
  • Hit Parade (Keller, #3)
  • Hit and Run (Keller, #4)
  • Hit Me (Keller, #5)

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