Hit Man

Hit Man

Book - 1998 | 1st ed.
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A collection of stories in which a killer describes his hits. In one he kills the wrong man and has to do a repeat, in another he must decide which client to kill first, both having put out contracts on each other. As he goes about murdering, J. P. Keller, a quiet unobtrusive man, reflects on his profession.
Publisher: New York : W. Morrow, c1998.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780688141790
068814179X
Characteristics: 259 p. ; 25 cm.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

Two blocks away he found a Mexican restaurant that looked dingy enough to be authentic.
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The food was good, and ridiculously inexpensive. If the place were in New York, he thought, everything would be three or four times as much and there’d be a line in front.
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A sign on the wall read GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE UNLESS YOU AIM REAL GOOD.
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“You want to protect yourself and your property,” McLarendon said. “That’s the idea.” “And your loved ones.”
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He aimed at it, holding the gun in one hand. A few years ago they started firing two-handed in cop shows on TV, and nowadays that was all you saw, television cops leaping through doorways and spinning around corners, gun gripped rigidly in both hands, held out in front of their bodies like a fire hose. Keller thought it looked silly. He’d feel self-conscious, holding a gun like that.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

Was that a mansard roof, or did that word describe something else? Was it a gambrel, maybe? He thought he ought to learn these things. You saw the words and didn’t know what they meant, saw the houses and couldn’t describe them properly.
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“And you didn’t want to develop another accounting practice?” “Never,” Engleman said. “I had enough of that, believe me. Look what it got me.” “You wouldn’t necessarily have to work for crooks.” “How do you know who’s a crook and who isn’t? Anyway, I don’t want any kind of work where I’m always looking at the inside of somebody else’s business.
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“Every place you go,” she said, “you want to live there.” “It’s nice,” he insisted. “And living’s cheap compared to here. They don’t even have a sales tax in the state, if you can believe that.” “Is sales tax a big problem for you, Keller?” “A person could have a decent life there,” he said. “For a week,” she said. “Then you’d go nuts.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

Neither the title nor the author’s name meant anything to Keller. What drew him was a line that seemed to leap out from the cover. “He rode a thousand miles,” Keller read, “to kill a man he never met.”
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“Keller, what difference does it make how Lyman pronounces his last name?” “I just wondered.” “Well, stick around for the funeral,” she suggested. “ See what the minister says. ”
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Singletree was some kind of apparatus used in hitching up a horse, or a team of horses. It was a little unclear to him just what it was or how it functioned, but it certainly didn’t spread its branches in the middle of the prairie.
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You married, Dale? ” What was the right answer? She was wearing a ring herself, and the jukebox was now playing yet another cheating song. “Not in Martingale,” he said.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

Well, sometimes you got lucky. The stars were in the right place, the forces that ruled the universe decided you deserved a present. There didn’t always have to be a catch to it, did there?
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He’d made his real money in oil, and nobody ever made a small amount of money that way. You either went broke or got rich. Rich men had enemies. People they’d crossed in business, people who stood to profit from their death.
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There were the tryin ’-to-drink-that-woman-off-of-my-mind songs and the if-it-wasn’t-for-bad-luck-I-wouldn’t-have-no-luck-at-all songs. Nothing about Celia in the Jackson Park Inn, nothing about heaven being just a sin away. These songs were for drinking and feeling really rotten about it.
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You didn’t expect a surgeon to manipulate your spine, or prescribe herbs and enemas, or kneel down and pray with you. Whatever the problem was, the first thing the surgeon would do was look around for something to cut.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

Here’s your new name, and here’s your new driver’s license with your new name already on it. You like scalloped potatoes in your new life, and you’re allergic to bee stings, and your favorite color is cobalt blue.
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My wife’s a round-heeled, mean-spirited, hard-hearted tramp. I hate my damn wife. I love my girlfriend. ” They were silent for a moment, and so was the whole room. Then someone played “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me.” “ They don’t write songs like that anymore, ” Yarnell said .
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He’d be keeping it simple, carrying out the mission as it had been given to him. And it would solve everybody’s problems. June and Hobie could get the divorce they both so desperately wanted. On the downside, they’d both be losing the man each regarded as the greatest thing since microwave popcorn.
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It struck Keller that there ought to be some sort of solution that didn’t involve lowering the population. But he knew he was the person least likely to come up with it.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

“Keller, are you all right? You seem different. ” “Just awed by the workings of Fate,” he said. “ Well,” she said, “that’ll do it.”
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“You’re employed as a corporate troubleshooter, except that you used another word for it.” “They tend to call us expediters,” Keller said, “but troubleshooter is what it amounts to.”
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“This is a place where you can be honest and open. The idea is to uncover those secrets you’ve been keeping from yourself. Here you are protected by the sanctity of the confessional, but it’s not my task to grant you absolution. Ultimately, you absolve yourself. ”
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Said. “There is a metaphysical principle which holds that we choose everything about our lives, that in fact we select the very parents we are born to, that everything which happens in our lives is a manifestation of our will. Thus there are no accidents, no coincidences.”

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

“I don’t know if I believe that.” “You don’t have to. We’ll just take it for the moment as a postulate.
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Do you recall Christ’s words to the first Peter? ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church. ’ Because Peter means rock. Our Lord was making a pun. So your first name means rock and your last name is Stone. What does that give us? Rock and stone. Hard, unyielding, obdurate. Insensitive. Unfeeling. ”
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Keller. In German it meant cellar, or tavern. But the hell with that, you didn’t need to know what it meant in a foreign language. Just change a vowel. Keller = Killer.
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“The whole box is framed pictures. About half of them are the soldier and the others are a fresh-faced blonde with her hair in a page boy and a big smile on her face. What it was, it was a box of frames. They used to package inexpensive frames that way, with a photo in it for display.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

“Oedipus,” Jerrold Breen said, holding his hands in front of his chest, his fingertips pressed together. “ I presume you know the story. Unwittingly, he killed his father and married his mother. ” “Two pitfalls I’ve thus far managed to avoid.”
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“This is called the Thematic Apperception Test,” Breen said. “You look at the photograph and make up a story about it.” “What kind of story?” “Any kind at all,” Breen said. “ This is an exercise in imagination. You look at the subject of the photograph and imagine what sort of woman she is and what she is doing. ”
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“The woman is crazy about the dog. The dog’s not so sure about the woman. ”
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“He’s seen it all,” she said. “ You can’t show him a thing. ”
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Dogs Walked, Plants Watered, the notice had read. Responsible Young Woman Will Provide Quality Care for Your Flora and Fauna. Call Andria.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

There had been a phone number, and he had copied it down and dialed it, and now his dog was in the care and custody of this allegedly responsible young woman, and all he really knew about her was that she didn’t know how to spell her own name. Suppose she let Nelson off the leash? Suppose she sold him to vivisectionists? Suppose she fell in love with him and never brought him back?
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I remember in high school how they did all this career counseling, showing you how to figure out what you wanted to do in life and then take steps in that direction. I think I told you how those years were sort of a blur for me. I went through them like somebody with a slight concussion, I saw everything through a veil. But when they got on this career stuff I just didn’t have a clue. There was this test, questions like would you rather pull weeds or sell cabbages or teach needlepoint, and I couldn’t finish the test. Every question was utterly baffling.

j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

I never had any interest in it or any aptitude for it, but it turns out you don’t need any. All you need is to be able to do it. I did it once because somebody told me to, and I did it a second time because somebody told me to, and before I knew it it was what I did. Then, once I’d defined myself, I started to learn the technical aspects. Guns, other tools, unarmed techniques. How to get around people. Stuff you ought to know.
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“Guy’s forty pounds overweight and here I just saw him tuck into a porterhouse the size of a manhole cover,” he said.
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He was dealing with an amateur, and there were two principles to observe in dealing with amateurs. The first was to be ultra-professional yourself. The second, alas, was never to deal with an amateur.
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He’d read that the true measure of human maturity was the ability to postpone gratification.

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j
jimg2000
Apr 23, 2019

First of Block's Keller novels. Hit Man introduces the peripatetic killer Keller by chronically described his hits, his relationship with Dot and how/why he got into philately. A reread and added quotes this time.

Hit Man (1998) ★★★★
Hit List (2000)
Hit Parade (2006)
Hit and Run (2008) ★★★★
Hit Me (2013) ★★★★
Keller's Fedora (2016) (Novella)

m
mammothhawk229e
Jul 09, 2018

Over the top , yet thoughtful short stories with original premise.
What to do when x wanted anti- to kill y & y wanted to hire said person to kill x?
How to deal with a confidence artist client?
What theme in buying second stamp collection?

7
7626dee
Aug 30, 2016

Another likable assassin from Block in a nice series of short stories. I wish we could have met the Old Man, it would be nice to know how to set up a cottage industry like Murder Inc.

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