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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
After a six-year hiatus (following 1998's Hit Man and 2000's Hit List), Lawrence Block's affable assassin John Keller is back for more highly unusual contract hits, wry social commentary, and deep existential contemplation. In Hit Parade -- a series of interconnected vignettes -- Keller's targets include a much-heralded baseball player, a jockey, a disgruntled business partner, a golf-obsessed retiree, and a killer pit bull named Fluffy.
Floyd Turnbull is an aging major league baseball player. Just shy of 400 careers home runs and 3,000 hits, the designated hitter's multimillion-dollar salary is ruining his team's chances for success. But when Keller gets the call to kill Turnbull during a team road trip, he roots for the "dead man hitting" to reach the 3,000-hit plateau before the inevitable end. A murderous pit bull is the cause of two New York City women's ire; but when Keller accepts the highly unusual case, he realizes he has unwittingly stepped into a steaming pile of something that has nothing to do with unruly dogs…
The John Keller saga brilliantly exemplifies the dark narrative mastery of the iconic Block, who was honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994. Keller is the cold-blooded killer of dozens -- possibly hundreds -- of people, yet readers can't help but root for him and his ever-expanding stamp collection. Reminiscent of Max Allan Collins's series in the 1970s featuring hired killer Quarry, Block's quirky Keller novels are a cult favorite of crime fiction fans. Who knew contract killing could be so much fun? Paul Goat Allen