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Hit Man (Keller, #1)Hit Man by Lawrence Block

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So....

This is not the sort of book I ever would have picked up. But it was cheap, I was bookless...stranger relationships have started this way, I suppose.

This is a book about a hit man, told from the hit man's point of view. That often leads to a certain level of "sympathy" for the devil, which is why writers do it. By the time I finished this book I flat out liked the protagonist. And the people he worked for. What????

Yes. Liked them.

Of course, that is part of the beauty of fiction. You get to meet, and associate with, all manner of people you wouldn't in real life--and I'm not just talking about the ones with furry feet or from Cardassia. Hit men, and spies, and all manner of other types that our day to day lives don't bring us into contact with.

One of the things that I liked (to my surprise) about this book is that it is episodic. Each chapter is its own story, reasonably intact. In fact, each one reminds me of a James Bond film, without so many explosions or one-night stands (though there are some of the latter). And as I thought about it, this hit man is no more amoral than James. He even has an M and a Moneypenny, though you never get the sense that Dot yearns for Keller as Moneypenny does for 007.

Still, when I finished the book, I found myself a bit...troubled at how much I liked Keller, and what that said about my moral character, finding myself going to miss the company of a killer for hire. That, of course, will not stop me from looking for the next volume--and apparently there is a next volume. Of course, given the world we live in, finding types of people that other people want dead is not exactly going to be a problem for Mr. Block--that's a well that won't ever run dry, as long as people are people.

So, after I'd put the book away, and took the dogs outside, I was still thinking about how uncomfortable I was that I wasn't uncomfortable with the protagonist.

And then I thought some more.

You can't live more than half a century without crossing paths with some...interesting people. Like the woman whose kids I used to babysit for who tried to run her husband over with a pickup truck. And, no, she wasn't kidding. Or my friend who became so disgusted with the television programming that he took a double barrelled shotgun to the set--reloading at least twice. Unfortunately, it wasn't his television, his house, or his shotgun. Or the man I know who after Vietnam really couldn't quite seem to let go of the life and once he was discharged from the service found similar...employment opportunities, with significantly better paychecks, in foreign countries with unpronouncable names.

And then there's the charming man I met years ago. Loyal friend, devoted father, attorney, veteran. When he fell on hard financial times he went back to using skills he'd learned in the military as a way to improve his bottom line, but as often happens, things went wrong and the assault for hire turned into a double homicide. He died in prison.

So, maybe that's why I found it easy to like Keller. He's a lot like my late friend--except Keller isn't as screwed up, and is, really, a much nicer guy. Even if he is a hit man.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
sillyviking
Jul. 14th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
Hmm...maybe I'll pick up this one. I've always been fascinated by violence and violent people. How they continue to function in a society that's supposed to hate them, or at least seriously disapprove of them? It's something I've found to be a conundrum in my writings as well.
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