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A man named Nicholas Edwards lives in New Orleans renovating houses, doing honest work and making decent money at it. Between his family and his stamp collection, all his spare time is happily accounted for. Sometimes it's hard to remember that he used to kill people for a living.

But when the nation's economy tanks, taking the construction business with it, all it takes is one phone call to drag him back into the game. It may say Nicholas Edwards on his driver's license and credit cards, but he's back to being the man he always was: Keller.

Keller's work takes him to New York, the former home he hasn't dared revisit, where his target is the abbot of a midtown monastery. Another call puts him on a West Indies cruise, with several interesting fellow passengers-the government witness, the incandescent young woman keeping the witness company, and, sharing Keller's cabin, his wife, Julia. But the high drama comes in Cheyenne, where a recent widow is looking to sell her husband's stamp collection...

In HIT ME, legendary Edgar Grandmaster and New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block returns to one of his most beloved characters. Welcome back, Keller. You've been missed.

Reviews In Hit Me, the latest Keller, the hit-man with a conscience carries on the tradition of Lawrence Block’s Keller series, which started with Hit Man and until Hit Me continued through Hit and Run.

In the latter, Keller was framed for the murder of an up-and-coming politician, left the hit-man profession, and became a builder in New Orleans, married to a woman that he saved from an attack there. As a happily married man with a young female child, he thought that he was finished with his former profession. But the housing slump and the failing economy lead to his being drawn back in.

Does he still have the physical, and more importantly, the mental skills to resume his former trade? Block, as is his wont, makes the answers to these questions into a mesmerizing read. Much of the book revolves around Keller’s hobby of stamp collecting, which he usually manages to work into a hit—either by attending an auction or visiting dealers.

Block goes into great detail about stamp collecting, which some could find boring and irrelevant, but I, although I don’t collect stamps, find it intriguing, perhaps because I am a collector myself, although of art and not stamps. Anyway, I am glad that Keller is back in business because his “hits” make for fascinating reading, stamps or no stamps! Five stars. If I am doing what I want, is what I am doing wrong?

Keller walked away from doing the wet work that kept him healthy, wealthy, and a little wiser for the wear. He changed his name and settled into domestic bliss that seemed a good fit with a business on the side. Even fatherhood and stamp collecting become his new normal, until the phone rings and an offer he does not want to refuse is proposed. He can always say no, he can always hang up the phone, he can always, but he always does the job.

Being back in the game means honing covert skills that Keller did not lose but let go a little soft shall we say. He still loves the hunt, has the skills to organize the job down to the finite detail, and never looks back after it is completed. His wife may be reluctant to understand why he is back at the dance but for some reason she cannot explain, it does not bother her that the construction business is not how he earns his money.

Keller moves flawlessly from one offer to the next with a blip or two on the radar and some poorly executed decisions. Overall, the jobs are done and the reaction someone else might have to this line of duty is not held close to Keller’s state of mind.

Lawrence Block constructs the perfect story for every character add a touch of flare to their personality a master like Mr. Block can design. I'd never read any of Lawrence Block's Keller novels before HIT ME. That will likely change as he's an interesting man.

He's a retired hit man, married with a young daughter. He shared a partnership with a friend in a construction company that buys old houses in New Orleans,

refurbishes them, and turns them over for a profit. That had done well until the downturn in the economy had made it a failing business.

Oh, Keller had plenty of money salted away in accounts in other countries from his first "business," but with raising a daughter and his stamp collecting, he was dipping into that more than he wanted. No danger of running out, just not something he liked doing.

So when his handler, a woman known as Dot, calls with a job offer, he decides to take her up on it. His wife knows about his old life and isn't bothered.

HIT ME is really a series of smaller works tied together with his family and his stamp collecting hobby, which gets as much attention as his jobs for Dot.

Liked this one enough to make me want to find the others and look forward to the next book. HIT ME is due out in February from Mulholland Books. What a great book. At all times, I was keenly aware I was in the presence of a master. Block's writing is just masterly throughout this latest Keller novel. Keller is a very down-to-earth guy who just happens to moonlight as a hitman. The rest of the time, he's a husband and father, trying to weather the downturn in the construction business in post-Katrina New Orleans. Also, he's a keen philatelist, keeping lists of stamps he wants marked in his catalogs. There's a lot of pretty wry humor on display in the novel, particularly in the conversations he has with his handler, Dot. At times, I almost felt like I was reading a Donald E. Westlake novel, particularly one of his Dortmunder books. Keller treats his hits as problems to solve and often works in one or more side trips to stamp shows or auctions. When he sets himself up as a stamp dealer, to provide a cover job to explain his income, he finds himself actually so successful that he really doesn't need to pursue his other jobs anymore. Just a sheer pleasure from start to finish. I hope there will be more Keller books to come. This is my favorite Lawrence Block series. In my opinion, he (Block) hasn't captured this style of writing in any other novel or series of novels. The snappy, witty repartee between Keller and Dot really make the novels unique for me and add that elusive fifth star which I do not bestow lightly. Some of this wit comes

through in Keller's conversations with his wife Julia, but in a more subdued manner. This novel was different in that it appeared to be several short stories strung together to convey several occurrences or clients of Keller and Dot. There is no connection between the clients; each is unique and unrelated. I think this could have turned out poorly, but it seems to have played out well in my opinion. I'm still looking for "Hit List" Keller's #2 novel, but the sources I frequent do not have it. I'll continue searching for it and peruse Block's many other novels in the meantime. I'm a late comer to the Keller series but I'm hooked. Keller is married with one child and collects stamps. And he's a hit man. He's a regular middle class guy who loves his family and is very good at his profession. As a reader, I identified with Keller to the point of telling myself, well, what he does isn't the worst thing in the world and other than that he's a very ethical guy with a a solid set of morals which we see very clearly in the surprise ending. Hit Me is full of right-on dialogue, several surprising and very believable twists and a lot of knowledge about stamps. What surprised me the most about this latter-day Travis McGee is that I so fully related to a hit man. I'll be seeking out more Keller titles for sure and hope that Mr. Block is working on yet another title book featuring my new hero. I greatly enjoyed the further exploits of Keller as he returns to the ranks of a hitman for hire. From the start he continues to analyze whether his subjects truly deserve to be eliminated or are they victims of someone more vile. As a stamp collector myself, I was also mesmerized by Keller's adventures and triumphs as he continued to add to his collection. Truth be known, I was more entertained by the stamps storylines. In the end, Keller has to make a tough decision, leaving fans hoping that there may yet be another installment. Though it might be better to let the reader write their own ending and let Keller live a happy life with family and stamps. When his finances get into trouble, Keller finds himself back in business with Dot and dispatching targets in the only way he knows how.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this ARC from Lawrence Block in exchange for reviewing it. Hell, when your favorite living crime writer gives you an ARC, you drop what you're doing it and read it.

First off, I loved the way Hit and Run ended and thought maybe bringing Keller back was a mistake. However, the way Block did it, with Keller's business flipping houses tanking, made perfect sense, and Keller's new family dynamic added some extra twists. Block's writing is as it has been for the duration of the Keller series; breezy but still powerful. He even made me care about stamp collecting for a couple hours.

In this outing, Keller starts a business, brokers a deal on an amazing stamp collection, goes on a cruise, and kills some people. I phrase it like that because, for me, the Keller books are more about what Keller does when he isn't out on a job. His relationships with his wife Jule, his daughter Jenny, and the ever-present Dot, as well as his wrestling with ethical and philosophical issues, keep the stories fresh and show the man behind the murders.

The jobs are interesting too. Keller has to take out a man's wife before he divorces her, return to New York to take out an abbot, kill a young bride's much older husband, and tries to find out who made an attempt on a targets life before he had the chance, all the while busying himself with family and philately.

That's about all I have to say. If you're looking for a view behind the curtain of the murder for hire business, give Lawrence Block's Keller series a try. Hit Me may be the best one yet.

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