Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Hit Man (Keller Series #1)

Hit Man (Keller Series #1)

3.6 56
by Lawrence Block

See All Formats & Editions

Keller is your basic urban Lonely Guy.He makes a decent wage, lives in a nice apartment.Works the crossword puzzle. Watches a little TV. Until the phone rings and he packs a suitcase, gets on a plane, flies halfway across the country...and kills somebody. It's a living. But is it a life? Keller's not sure. He goes to a shrink, but it doesn't work out the way he


Keller is your basic urban Lonely Guy.He makes a decent wage, lives in a nice apartment.Works the crossword puzzle. Watches a little TV. Until the phone rings and he packs a suitcase, gets on a plane, flies halfway across the country...and kills somebody. It's a living. But is it a life? Keller's not sure. He goes to a shrink, but it doesn't work out the way he planned. He gets a dog, he gets a girlfriend. He gets along.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
February 1998

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Lawrence Block has been awarded every major mystery prize. With more than 50 published works, he is considered by many to be the ultimate voice in mystery; The Wall Street Journal calls him "one of the very best writers working the beat." Block's latest novel, Hit Man, is already winning praise from critics and fans alike.

During his incredibly prolific career, Block has created a memorable cast of recurring characters who have mesmerized his legions of fans. The latest addition to Block's list of memorable characters is Keller, a cool, confident, competent, and reliable hit man.

A precise professional, Keller, a native New Yorker, weaves in and out of assignments and personae with remarkable ease. Always armed with an alias and plausible stories when he is dispatched to remote locations, Keller epitomizes the professional hit man. But Keller does stand out. A complicated man, guarded and reclusive, Keller is prone to loneliness, self-doubt, and career worries; he is sort of a wistful murderer. He may be a killer — and this becomes quite obvious as we accompany him on his rounds — but he is also an all-too-human being.

Hit Man clearly displays the qualities that distinguish Lawrence Block's award-winning fiction — the intelligence, the wicked cleverness, the outright humor. But above all, Block writes with the true-grit sense of humanity that has become his trademark.

Boston Herald
Leave it to Lawrence Block to write a knock-out novel about a hit man staggering through a midlife crisis. . .Block deliversa one-two punch of humor and introspection. . .Along the way, readers will find themselves analyzing why they are eager forthe killer to discover inner peace.
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
An odd and appealing combination of the hard-boiled, the surreal and the whimsical. Keller grows on us, story by story. ..But he is also a cold-blooded killer. . .Unlike Keller, who likes movies where you can tell who the good guys are, Blocksfans can grateful for a book in which you can't always tell which is which.
NY Times Book Review
A killer named Keller reacts to a midcareer crisis by becoming involved in the lives of his intended targets, in a series of murderous adventures that are both funny and full of rue.
Anthony Neil Smith
I think it's one of Block's best....Keller is having an existential crisis. He wonders if his work defines him, if he chose the job or the job chose him. Can he be happy as anything other than a killer?....This one's worth the trip into the dark corners of Keller's soul. A great book.
Over My Dead Body.com

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Keller Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Answers to Soldier

Keller flew United to Portland. He read a magazine on the leg from JFK to O'Hare, ate lunch on the ground, and watched the movie on the nonstop flight from Chicago to Portland. It was a-quarter to three local time when he carried his hand luggage off the plane, and then he had only an hour's wait before his connecting flight to Roseburg.

But when he got a look at the size of the plane he walked over to the Hertz desk and told them he wanted a car for a few days. He showed them a driver's license and a credit card and they let him have a Ford Taurus with thirty-two hundred miles on the clock. He didn't bother trying to refund his Portland-to-Roseburg ticket.

The Hertz clerk showed him how to get on 1-5. Keller pointed the car in the right direction and set the cruise control three miles an hour over the posted speed limit. Everybody else was going a few miles an hour faster than that, but he was in no hurry, and he didn't want to invite a dose look at his driver's license. It was probably all right, but why ask for trouble?

It was still light out when he took the off ramp for the second Roseburg exit. He had a reservation at the Douglas Inn, a Best Western on Stephens Street. He found it without any trouble. They had him in a ground-floor room in the front, and he had them change it to one a flight up in the rear.

He unpacked, showered. The phone book had a street map of downtown Roseburg, and he studied it, getting his bearings, then tore it out and took it with him when he went out for a walk. The little print shop was only a few blocks away on Jackson, two doors in from thecomer, between a tobacconist and a photographer with his window full of wedding pictures. A sign in Quik Print's window offered a special on wedding invitations, perhaps to catch the eye of bridal couples making arrangements with the photographer.

Quik Print was dosed, of course, as were the tobacconist and the photographer and the credit jeweler next door to the photographer and, as far as Keller, could tell, everybody else in the neighborhood. He didn't stick around long. Two blocks away he found a Mexican restaurant that looked dingy enough to be authentic. He bought a local paper from the coin box out front and read it while he ate his chicken enchiladas. The food was good, and ridiculously inexpensive. If the place were in New York, he thought, everything would be three or four times as much and there'd be a line in front.

The waitress was a slender blonde, not Mexican at all. She had short hair and granny glasses and an overbite, and she sported an engagement ring on the appropriate finger, a diamond solitaire with a tiny stone. Maybe she and her fiance had picked it out at the credit jeweler's, Keller thought. Maybe the photographer next door would take their wedding Pictures. Maybe they'd get Burt Engleman to print their wedding invitations. Quality printing, reasonable rates, service you can count on.

In the morning he returned to Quik Print and looked in the window. A woman with brown hair was sitting at a gray metal desk, talking on the telephone. A man in shirtsleeves stood at a copying machine. He wore hom-rimmed glasses with round lenses and his hair was cropped short on his egg-shaped head. He was balding, and that made him look older, but Keller knew he was only thirty-eight.

Keller stood in front of the jeweler's and pictured the waitress and her fiance picking out rings. They'd have a double-ring ceremony, of course, and there would be something engraved on the inside of each of their wedding bands, something no one else would ever see. Would they live in an apartment? For a while, he decided, until they saved the down payment for a starter home. That was the phrase you saw in real estate ads and Keller liked it. A starter home, something to practice on until you got the hang of it.

At a drugstore on the next block, he bought an unlined paper tablet and a black felt-tipped pen. He used four sheets of paper before he was pleased with the result. Back at Quik Print, he showed his work to the brown-haired woman.

"My dog ran off," he explained. "I thought I'd get some flyers printed, post them around town."


"I hope you get him back," the woman said. "Is it a him? Soldier sounds like a male dog, but it doesn't say."

"It's a male," Keller said. "Maybe I should have specified."

"It's probably not important. Did you want to offer a reward? People usually do, though I don't know if it makes any difference. If I found somebody's dog, I wouldn't care about a reward. I'd just want to get him back with his owner."

"Everybody's not as decent as you are," Keller said. 'Maybe I should say something about a reward. I didn't even think of that." He put his palms on the desk and leaned forward, looking down at the sheet of paper. "I don't know," he said. "It looks kind of homemade, doesn't it? Maybe I should have you set it in type, do it right. What do you think?"

"I don't know," she said. "Ed? Would you come and take a look at this, please?"

The man in the horn-rims came over and said he thought a hand-lettered look was best for a lost-dog notice. "It makes it more personal," he said. "I could do it in type for you, but I think people would respond to it better as it is. Assuming somebody finds the dog, that is."

Hit Man. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Hit Man 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
5280 More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. The main character; Keller is a hitman that's not exactly what you'd expect. As he travels to do his job, he routinely fantasizes about settling down in work locale. It's an offbeat and entertaining read. I always love to find a book like this that doesn't follow the normal and expected format of things. Grab a copy and enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Lawrence Block book I read. And I must say this Keller guy cracks me up. This assassin is one the most funniest characters I ever read. All due to Block's witty prose. And I tell you, I'm hooked to his stuff. So give it try, it's worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed every page of this book except the last. I hated to see it end. A character and humor to which almost everyone can relate. I look forward to reading Hit List as soon as I can pick up a copy.
Hardman More than 1 year ago
Story was very disjointed. After finishing I found this was because it was a collection of short stories featuring the main character. Some scenes moved right into another with no warning---or spacing---and more than a few times I had to stop and re-read a section to discern what was happening. Keller is an interesting enough character, as is the secretary of his "handler" (though we never meet that gentleman). If they polished up the Nook version and made it clear that it was a series of seperate stories, then it would have been much better. Kind of interested in reading the next book, but only if it's a solid, single story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a phenomenonally enjoyable read because it is such a humorous introspection into the nature of humankind. Keller, who is unapologizingly lethal, and who is paid well for it, is at the same time a very likeable character that anybody can identify with. He experiences the same problems that everyone else does, and the fact that he is a hitman somehow becomes secondary to his search for a greater fulfillment out of life. Block created a character as charming and likeable as any classic hero, but the amazing thing about this is that Keller is not, by any means, heroic. This is honestly the most entertaining book I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read two books in this series and enjoyed them both. The books in this series may not be what you expect so i recomend reading the free sample before buying. I am hooked and will read them all!
Guest More than 1 year ago
although lawrence block is a suberb writer and the plot is fantastic, he is only short on one thing in this book. the writing is unique and it is a real page turner with suspense and action happening everywhere. the only thing wrong with the book is that the main character, joh keller, isnt developed very well and u somewhat dont really get to know him until you read 'Hit Parade' which is probably his best book out of the three.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this books is amazing! block does a great job in description, and in the charaters personailty and traits,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better question-- How much were the editors paid? Awful book, storyline and yes, terrible author.. DaU Cudahy, Wisconsin
ThePolyBlog More than 1 year ago
PLOT OR PREMISE: Keller is a hit man. The contracts come from White Plains, from an unseen man upstairs and the man's assistant named Dot. He gets the jobs and he does them. A pro...no mistakes. Life is good. And every time Keller goes to a new town, he gets real estate agents to show him houses he'll never buy. Then he kills the target and goes home. And goes to therapy, gets a dog, gets a girlfriend, meets an agent from the government, and generally cruises through life piling up bodies. But there are always little problems -- like the man who hires him through a front and then neglects to pay the second half. Or the two rivals who both hire Keller to kill the other and he has to choose which one. Or the three "innocents" that the government has him kill. In the end, he decides to retire. And find a hobby. And even that doesn't work out as planned. . WHAT I LIKED: "The character is interesting and business-like. He has trouble killing a man he likes because he knows the man is waiting for it and Keller had saved his grandson from drowning, so he is somewhat conflicted. And the search for explanations about his life and his past are at once both deep and superficial -- deep questions that Keller can turn away from anytime he wants and simply shrug. And mean it. On the lighter side, he uses various identities when he travels, identities of real people. So, just for fun, he occasionally calls the wives from the hotel he is staying in so that when the couple complain to American Express that they weren't there, the call appears to be them to their own home, just to mess with them. But then he feels guilty, so he sends the wife flowers from the husband - charged to the husband's card of course. And his depictions of some places in New York City were a nice ""homecoming"" since I was there a while ago and know all too well the places he was describing. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Some of the chapters seem somewhat disjointed, which is likely a reflection of the fact that many of the chapters appeared "as is" in Playboy magazine as short stories. The only other complaint is that in a couple of places the story jumps back to New York City a little two fast and the reader is left wondering exactly what happened and how he killed the target. Particularly for the guy who initially stiffs Keller on the second half of his fee -- there is no explanation whether Keller kills him or not. He plans it but then has to go back to New York City suddenly. No explanation. A good set of stories overall, although its hard to get into the character since the character is presented rather cold and superficial. Almost like a description of someone's life in the past, it's hard to feel tension or great interest in the day to day happenings. . BOTTOM-LINE: Maybe you've met a hitman and didn't know it. . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, but I do follow him on social media.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bacaczar More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book with great trepidation. Wasn't sure what to expect. The story line was interesting, and even though many readers complained about the disjointedness, it made you pay attention. I did have a problem with the coldness that came across through Keller. But I guess what can you expect from an assassin. Hopefully, as I read on in the series Keller will be developed more thoroughly. The only mistake I found in the book was Block stating he inserted a new "clip" in his gun. It's not a clip but a "magazine".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago