Saturday, February 09, 2013

Hit Me -- Lawrence Block

When I read the previous book in Lawrence Block's Keller series, I thought that Block probably wouldn't be writing any more about his stamp-collecting hit man.  Keller was, after all, settled in New Orleans with a wife, a child, and a booming business.  His past is pretty much buried, as is the past of Dot, the woman who'd passed on his contracts.  He could afford to indulge his stamp-collecting hobby, and there was no reason for him to go back to his old ways.

But I should've known better.  Block found the perfect reason for Keller to take up his old trade again, and he does it in four more-or-less related novellas and a short story that are up to Block's usual standard of excellence.  The first novella in the book is "Keller in Dallas," so he hooked me right off the bat with only the title.  I can't resist a good Texas tale.

There's a lot about stamp collecting in these stories, but that didn't bother me at all.  As a guy who has his own obsessions, I can easily identify with the obsessions of others.  The plotting is slick, and the writing is smooth.  It's all good.  Each story can stand on its own, even if you've never read any of the other Keller books, though they'll mean more if you have.  And if you have, you'll definitely want to read this one because you just can't resist.  Check it out.

6 comments:

Bud said...

Thanx for the ref. As a former stamp/cover collector, as well as an obsessive, pack-rat collector of books and too many other things, I can probably relate rather well.

Anonymous said...

You know this one is already on my list.


Jeff

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the book, and as usual, b4 any Keller book is opened in our house, even the well-read old ones, we make sure all morning appts are rescheduled, because...

I lived in the same LM neighborhood and we all would run into the same people, precious few of us chose to live in those quarters in the old days... mosty the avante garde, artists, writers, etc...I can just tell where he got some of the ideas. I love it. Pink toes. The frequent refs to Aussie sheeps and Gt.Pyrenees. Recently I emailed and asked him, it was so uncanny. He denied, as I am sure all authors must - the "any resemblance..." clause.

But when I lived there I had no idea of who "Keller" was or how big Block was, because I was into the Wall St scene. No time for fiction, what was happening there was stranger than.

Bill Crider said...

Block is great when it comes to depicting times and places. And great at other things, too, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thought I'd leave a last tidbit, a bit of nostalgia for that old neighborhood. It's how I did come to learn of Block and "Keller".

"About 2003, after one too many "filthy girlscouts" (a since banned drink) at a bar off the cobbled stones btwn the seaport and Wall St. a block or so N of Water, two young ladies I knew had walked back to our mutual apt bldg a few blocks away. In the lobby, while waiting 4ever for the old cranky elevator to take them up five floors, they spied the glass door to the Tenants' Directory was unlocked. About one hour later, laughing their ashes off on the tiny lobby floor, they had renamed all the tenants, printed and posted a new "zoo directory", filled with names of ancient animals, and cartoon ones, e.g,. Buggs Bunny, Arrgh and DeePak Too; they drew a museum quality sketch of Mr. Gomphos Elkema, and description, 'earliest known rabbit with a moderately sized tail', for the building superintendent, who was 'dating prolifically' shall we say, at the time. At some point some after I came home, offered suggestions for the diorama these sloshed nuts were building to go with their new "tenant zoo directory", (then went on my way), they said a gangster looking guy - who didn't belong to the building - came in searching for someone on the directory- while they were sniggling around a corner looking for reactions - and this guy was really looking "to do someone in" at 2 in the morning. He left looking pissed off and befuddled but they swear it was "Keller". That's how I came to know of Lawrence Block."

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for these comments!