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In Des Moines, Keller stalks his designated target and waits for the client to give him the go-ahead. And one fine morning, he's picking out stamps for his collection (Sweden 1-5, the official reprints) at a shop in Urbandale when somebody guns down the charismatic governor of Ohio.
Back at his motel, Keller's watching TV when they show the killer's face. And there's something all too familiar about that face....
Keller calls his associate, Dot, in White Plains, but there is no answer. He's stranded halfway across the country, every cop in America's just seen his picture, his ID and credit cards are no longer good, and he just spent almost all of his cash on the stamps.
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By Steve-C on 01-24-12
Can a hit man really settle down?
I really enjoyed the previous two Keller stories by Lawrence Block, especially the first book Hit Man. Robert Forster read the first story and I had an initial impression of Keller based on the narrator's rendering of the character which was very good, especially given his New York accent. Lawrence decided he would read the second book (Hit Parade) and I don't think that was such a wise idea since although I really enjoy him as a writer, narrating is not his forte. I found his narration to be distracting from the story line and perhaps it would sell better if he was able to remake the story using Robert Forster as the narrator.
Then the third book Hit and Run came along and Richard Poe narrated the story. He too has a kind of gravelly voice which fit the story OK, but to be honest, I like Robert Forster a little better as the narrator. Nothing against Richard Poe as a narrator though since I still think he did a good job and I didn't ding the book due to him as the narrator. His narration as Dot was certainly very good.
I enjoyed this book, although at times, and it seems to be Keller's style, I got a little tired of Keller over-thinking situations. There's a point where his over-thinking becomes annoying such that I found myself near the end of the book saying out loud - just call the darn phone number and cut it out already. It was a novel idea in the first book (Keller over-thinking things), and it wasn't too bad in the second book, but his over-thinking in this book went a little further than I liked since if it wasn't about stamps, it was about a girlfriend, or Dot, or should he check his apartment, or a stolen car, or any number of things that would pop up.
I think that if Lawrence was to reel back the over-thinking by perhaps 50% for each situation in this book it would've been just right. Perhaps as part of the character development he sees Keller as wanting to get out of the hit man business and it's Keller over-thinking things that has become more extreme, and suggesting that yes, he should probably get out of this line of work. I hope Keller doesn't exit the hit man business since he's an interesting hit man that seems to have an impulsiveness that is timely and quite brutal when the time arrives.
I think the book could've headed towards the final stretch a little more smoothly around the final character that had caused so many problems for Keller. Surely "just call me Al" deserved the "attention" that characters less worthy received.
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