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Hit List Mass Market Paperback – Jan 10 2002

3 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (Jan. 10 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061030996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061030994
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #166,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Few mystery authors have a stable of protagonists as uniformly appealing as Lawrence Block's. Whether Block's taking the reader into PI Matthew Scudder's world of dimly lit bars and basement AA meetings, quirky burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr's used bookstore, or the international hot-spot hangouts of Evan Tanner, the spy who never sleeps, he always provides good company. John Keller, star of Block's 1998 story collection Hit Man, is a typical Block invention: an unassuming, get-the-job-done-and-move-on New York contract killer who collects stamps, does the morning crossword, eats Vietnamese takeout, and falls for the occasional woman.

When Keller gets off a plane in Louisville, ready to do the job he's been hired for, something about it feels wrong from the start. And when two people are killed in the motel room he's just vacated, he realizes he narrowly missed a setup, but can't figure out why. Then he goes to Boston to do another job, and afterwards dines in a coffee shop where another patron has the misfortune of leaving with Keller's raincoat:

The Globe didn't have it. But there it was in the Herald, a small story on a back page, a man found dead on Boston Common, shot twice in the head with a small-caliber weapon.

Keller could picture the poor bastard, lying face-down on the grass, the rain washing relentlessly down on him. He could picture the dead man's coat, too. The Herald didn't say anything about a coat, but that didn't matter. Keller could picture it all the same.

Keller's agent, Dot, puts the pieces--including the death of another contract killer she books occasionally--together and comes up with the seemingly crazy idea that a greedy hit man is knocking off the competition. In between other legit hits, romancing a commitment-shy artist, visiting an astrologer, and a long stint on jury duty, Keller slowly moves closer to the faceless nemesis he and Dot dub "Roger." But it's Dot, the woman of action, who figures out what to do about him. Though Hit List is too introspective to be a caper novel, and too funny to be noir, it's bound to find a rapt audience with fans of both subgenres. After two such engaging books, can Hit Parade be far behind? --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

John Keller, whom Block introduced in Hit Man, is a killer for hire, with a difference. He's thoughtful, even broody, tends to take a liking to some of the towns where he goes to do his work, dreams of perhaps settling down in one of them one day and collects stamps in his spare time, of which there's plenty. It's a novel idea, and it carried an excellent group of stories in the previous book. A whole novel about Keller, however, who after all walks a very delicate line between likability and horror, is more than he can readily bear, and, almost unknown in Block's work, there are longueurs here. The plot is wryly serviceableAa rival is attempting to corner the market by getting to some of Keller's intended victims first, and clearly has to be disposed ofAbut about halfway through a certain unease creeps in and won't let go. For all Block's usual great skill with goofy dialogue (here between Keller and Dot, the intermediary who takes the orders for his jobs), it's difficult to indefinitely enjoy jokes about the violent deaths of a number of people who, for all Dot and Keller know, are harmless, perhaps even good citizens, but whom someone is willing to pay to remove. Apparently mindful of this, Block keeps the killings mostly offstage, or with a minimum of graphic violence. But an affection for Keller is an acquired taste, and here it proves difficult to acquire. 9-city author tour. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Block's series about John Keller, the contract assassin for occasional hire, got off to a strong and nuanced start in Hit Man. A series of short stories were woven together in that book that presents an interesting account of a man who has lost himself in a soul-deadening job . . . but struggles to break free. That book's weakness is that Keller doesn't ring true.

In Hit List, Keller barely rings at all as a character. He's more like a pawn for Mr. Block's fanciful plot about a hit man who has gone rogue.

That is unfortunate because the book started out somewhat promisingly as brushes with danger lead Keller to seek answers. He finds out that he has a "murderer's thumb" -- whatever that is . . . and that the occasions when he's been in danger look bad on his astrological chart. Where might all that have led? Probably someplace much more interesting than where the book actually does lead.

If you decide to stop reading about John Keller after Hit Man, I think you'll be reasonably happy with your decision.

Mr. Block does a solid job of portraying a doomed man, but it's hardly inspiring to better understand the cold comfort of being a contract killer.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Had a couple plane rides last week, so read Hit List by Lawrence Block. Sometimes the brain needs a break. This kind of thing gives it. I usually like Lawrence Block's murder mysteries, but I must admit that this one fell way short. It was a different character than he usually writes about (maybe the only book with that guy since it didn't sell that well). The protagonist is a hit man, a contract killer. He is also a stamp collector (supposed to give him depth and ellicit empathy). Single living in a small non-descript flat in New York. Works for a "suburban housewife" out in New Jersey. Very dispassionate, but not in a cruel way. In a "well, this is my job and I better get it done so I can go to the stamp dealer" sort of way. He is not very complex, although Block tries to make him so. During a couple of his jobs he has a "funny feeling" and strange things happen. Like two people being shot in the head with a 22 in a hotel room he just moved from. And two of his targets getting killed by other means right in front of him without his help. Eventually he figures out that a competitor is trying to kill him and has successfully killed other guys as a way to reduce the competition. Sometimes I wish that tactic were available to my startups. Of course this eventually leads him to try to get the drop on the other guy and I won't bore you with the details there. Lets just say the end peters out into nothingness. Not really a page turner. Not an engaging character. But provides a good break from computer manuals and business plans to change the world.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can see that many have given this book a low rating, but then they might not see the humour in what L. Block has done with this novel. It depends what you are looking for. This is entertainment and not a thriller or crime fiction.
The entertainment is mainly in the dialogues and the setting -- Keller and Dot's "mildly" alienated approach to their work, how Keller looks for new stamp collection in the city where he is to do his work as a hitman, the remarks from Dot, the various descriptions and characters.
I agree about the weak plot at the end - but that is forgiven.
Block writes a lot. It is extraordinary how his books differ - from the brilliant "burgler" series to more lightweigt "Tanner" series. And the "Scudder" series again totally different and great reading.
This book belongs to his lightweight novels. You have to read the Scudder or Burglar..series to get his best work.
(I am just about to order all of his "Burglar" novels..)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The plot is simple, although at times very obscure, with hit man Keller realizing that he has become the hunted. Full of interesting thoughts and philisophical questions, Keller makes his way through the novel with a knack for humoring the reader, establishing relationships with other characters as he does so, and collecting stamps.
This is a very unique book, though most critics fail to connect with the main character, a hit man. Sure, he's a cold-blooded killer, but the idea is for it to make you laugh at him, not judge him. I liked it, though it was a bit wordy at times, and Dot was an amazingly annoying addition to the equation. My gripes were that the characters are shallow, if anything, and the plot gets chopped up and mixed with lots of uninteresting, irrelevant garbage at times. The book is really good when the plot is moving along, but there are lots of random detours (Keller getting stuck on jury duty) that are nothing but dead-end reading. Then you're back to the plot, and it gets good again.
I hesitate to call this book great, or wonderful, or anything close, but it was ok as far as mystery books go. The finale was good, but I'd stick to the Matt Scudder series. Those are where Block's talent is, and I hope this book isn't a sign of things to come.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first book in this two book series (to date), "Hit Man", is a loosely connected series of short stories, most originally published in Playboy, and slightly reworked for this novelized format. The stories were interesting snapshots in the life and times of a hit man's career, character and conscience. This second entry in the series, "Hit List", continues the good insights and casual banter between Keller and Dot, who really do compliment each other well. That's the "Hit" part. The "Miss" part is in the fact that this full novelized sequel simply has no engaging suspense. Someone is supposed to be trying to "hit the hit man", but you'd never know it until about half way or more into the book, and then it's all so fluffy, (cozy rather than hard boiled), that boredom sets in with the ease of a knife through soft butter. But would I buy a third installment in the series? Yes. I would still be curious as to what happens to Keller and Dot next. Hopefully, their adventures would be both more exciting and unusual as befits the personalities of each, a potential not realized in "Hit List.
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