Mysterious Book Report Hit MeHit Me by Lawrence Block

Mulholland Books-Little Brown, $26.99, 337 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-12735-6

The summer reading season is getting underway and this weeks book selection was chosen because it’s ideal for reading in short intervals as time allows.  It consists of three novellas, all linked together around two central themes: the first being extraordinary and the second arcane.  It’s great crime fiction that transports the reader to another time and place in just a few pages . . . a time and place that the reader herself will never actually go . . . but a time and place she’ll feel familiar with after reading Hit Me, by Lawrence Block.  It reprises one of the most interesting, iconic characters in all of crime fiction literature, a legendary hit man known only as Keller.  He’s a product of the imagination of Lawrence Block, who is himself a living legend among members of the Mystery Writers of America, having received countless fiction awards—including multiple Edgars and being named a Grand Master by the MWA.

A quiet man named Nicholas Edwards lives in New Orleans with his wife and young daughter.  He makes a living buying and renovating houses, then ‘flipping,’ or selling them for a profit.  He has a good business and collects stamps for a hobby.  But then the recession hits and his business goes in the tank.  He’s doing okay, keeping the bills paid with an unknown money source, but he’s concerned about tapping into his “savings.”  There’s also his expensive stamp collecting hobby to think about.  Mr. Nicholas Edwards is in a quandary when he gets a phone call from an old business associate known only as ‘Dot.’  She offers him a job: assassinate the abbot of a monastery in midtown Manhattan, and Keller, one of the deadliest and most congenial hitmen in all of crime fiction, re-emerges to wreak havoc on his unsuspecting and not very innocent victims.  Of course that first job and payday leads to a second, and third one.  Plus, and what could be better from a dedicated collectors point-of-view, each ‘job’ coincides with a major stamp auction, which allows Keller to add certain rarities.  It’s an entertaining romp through the pages of this latest work from one of the best fiction writers in America.  Take a break from summer schlock television and read it.  You’ll have a great time and learn a bit about the fascinating business of philately, or stamp collecting.


John Dwaine McKenna