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Hit Man (Keller series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 352 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
His Keller series of books is a favorite. Keller is a Hit Man by profession, philatelist (stamp collector) by hobby, and altogether more of a regular guy and less of a sociopath than one would expect a contract killer to be. Who woulda thought?
This is the first Keller novel of five total:
- Hit Man (Keller series Book 1)
- Hit List (Keller series Book 2)
- Hit Parade (Keller series Book 3)
- Hit and Run (Keller series Book 4)
- Hit Me (Keller series Book 5)
This is a fun read, with very little violence despite the fact that the main character is a killer, enjoyable for the first person dialogue inside the mind of a guy who just happens to kill people for a living, but whose real love in life is completing his stamp collection. In fact (and I don't think this really qualifies as much of a spoiler), he begins his collection here in Hit Man, deciding to concentrate on world issues from 1840 to 1940.
Another sympathetic killer, I'm afraid. Keller is a guy who would probably make a good neighbor. No reason to worry about him, really. He only kills those he's paid to kill, after all.
And that is mainly because Lawrence Block doesn't write "crime" either, he writes books, meaning he has got style and a "little music" of his own, something that hooks you instantly and leaves you no choice but to read on. I read here and there that some reviewers had trouble with the fact that the main character, Keller, is a hitman. Though it's true that usually main characters are heroes, people you WANT to identify with, Block's main character may actually be disturbing because you CAN identify with him: he's got issues, doubts, thoughts, and even a sense of morals. And you MUST like him, because he's hilarious and human.
The construction of the book is original: each chapter is a new mission for Keller, yet there are connections between the stories, and the reader gets to know him better, and to love him more and more. Not in spite or because of the fact that he's a killer, just because he is loveable. And maybe because, behind the entertaining aspect of his adventures, the humour and the style of Block's prose, one can find something deeper. Keller might sound like "killer", but in German in means "cellar", and it might be interesting to go down to the bottom of things with him.
There's a psycho-analytical reading of Keller's adventures to make. I'm not good enough in that area to do it thoroughly, but let's just say that a few things caught my attention. Keller actually goes through psycho-therapy in one of the chapters. Of course, the analyst questions him on his mother and father. Keller never knew his dad, and this absence of a father figure seems central. Every man is supposed to "kill the father", metaphorically speaking of course. Keller never had the opportunity to do that, which may explain his very choice of career, and why he still struggles with his motives. He's a man who hasn't really found himself yet, still a child in some respects. It's funny to see how the organisation of his job mirrors the pattern of his childhood: he receives orders from Dot, a woman. She is his real contact, though technically his real boss is a man - whom he refers to as "the old man", funnily enough - a man who little by little loses his connection with Keller. Keller names his dog "Soldier" because his father is supposed to have been a soldier. The dog eventually disappears from his life.
Hitman is filled to the brim with references and double entendre. Block's genius is that he won't make them too obvious as to prevent you from liking the book even if you don't see them. But that would be a pity. In some ways, the novel has a certain mystic quality. I don't see Keller as a despicable, ruthless killer (how could I?). He usually does his job with a certain sense of ethics. And he can be jobless for weeks before being called to remove someone. He's like an angel of death, not really in the land of the living, taking orders from an "old man" living "upstairs", in a place called "White Plains". All this sounds like divine order to me.
Whether or not all these thoughts mean something, Block's book was certainly divine to read.
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