By Lawrence Block
Keller is a hit man. Like all careers, it has its challenges, some imposed by circumstance, others generated by introspection. For example, Keller accepts a contract on an aging baseball star. The job will be easy, but Keller complicates it with reasons that can only be categorized as "inside baseball." There's another job in which he's assigned to kill a jockey, but only if the man wins a fixed race. Since Keller is all about the money, he figures a way to turn the situation into a win-win for himself. He also ponders a retirement in which he will abandon his Manhattan lifestyle for a trailer in the southwestern desert. Block, the best-selling author of the Matt Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr series, indulges himself when he dusts off Keller. The humor is even more deadpan than usual, and the vignettes (Keller working as a food-service volunteer after 9/11) are quirky diversions. Oddly, Keller the hit man is also a kind of everyman, pondering such universal questions as, Does this assignment compromise my ethics? Will I ever get another job? Block's legion of fans will savor his subtle wit, his consummate narrative skills, and his idiosyncratic method of celebrating the lives of working folks in America.