Hit Me by Lawrence Block
The last time we saw the hitman Keller, he had retired from his prior occupation and was living as Nicholas Edwards, with his wife and baby in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina there was plenty of construction work available and Nicholas had a new career. Now, with the downturn of the economy that work dried up. While trying to figure out what to do next, he got a call from Dot.
Now, Dot was also living a new life. She'd moved from upstate New York to Arizona and had a new name and had been enjoying retirement, until some jobs started to present themselves and she wound up back in business as the go-between for people who wanted someone dead and the people who were willing to make that happen.
This book is as much a collection of stories as a novel. The tales are divided up by job and, while I still find Keller a very interesting and even a sympathetic character, I started to dislike his wife. Keller is now who he always was. He's not someone who takes pleasure in killing. He has rules that he doesn't deviate from, but he does occasionally change the game. Now, his wife, kind of gets off on the whole hitman/killing thing and I found that kind of disturbing. While I get that having a wife who can deal with her husband's other life, is really good for Keller, I found it kind of ghoulish.
You get the full range of Keller in this book. The jobs are very different and when he's not working he's enjoying spending time with his family and his stamps. There was even a special edition of the book published with extra stampiness. For the philatelic reader, this was probably something to jump on. I've never been a stamp collector. Now, if he'd made a special edition that came in a really awesome bag, I'd be all over that. Hint, hint, Mr. Block.
I think Lawrence Block should be a genre all on his own. He writes like no one else. I still stand by the fact that his Burglar books are his best work. They are smart and funny and manage to poke a little fun at themselves. I like my male authors, the way I like the rest of my men, smart and funny.
P.S. ~ Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Look at who's back!!! I've been waiting and hoping for years that the delightful Mr. Rhodenbarr would be back with another adventure. It looks like my patience has paid off. The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons is due out in December!