Lawrence Block, Hit Me. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
When I started this blog I thought that I would only write positive reviews, but I realize now that I will occasionally have to write reviews of books that I'm less enthusiastic about. This is one of those times. I've read at least one Lawrence Block book in the past; it was one of his Bernie Rhodenbarr books, I believe, and I remember liking it a lot. However, when I started reading this book I was immediately put off by the premise and plot.
The premise is that Keller, Block's protagonist in this series, is a hit man and a stamp collector. The entire book consists of him going off to stamp conventions where he makes big purchases with the money he earns from his hits, which are always conveniently close to a stamp convention (are there really that many?) He's very sweet to his wife and daughter, teaching them about stamps, but one of the cheesiest parts of the book is his wife's reaction when she finds out he's back to killing people for money (you'll have to read it yourself to see how bad it was).
I don't know if the reader is supposed to empathize with Keller, but I found it a little hard to do. The worst thing one of his victims appears to have done is be mean to her maid. Even Dexter had a code that allowed the viewer to not feel bad about the victims; he killed people who were much worse than he was: murderers, rapists, etc. But Keller will take just about any job, as long as it's not a kid. I guess that makes him ok...
I found the writing to be simple, made all the worse since I had just finished a Jonathan Lethem book that was more difficult to get through.