Keller's Fedora by Lawrence Block
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve always thought that a man had to have a certain amount of class to pull off wearing a fedora, and Keller fits that profile even if he is a hired killer.
In this short novella Keller gets an interesting proposition. A potential client wants a hit man to take care of his wife’s lover, but he doesn’t know who it is. So the job involves doing some investigating before getting to the murder, and Keller finds himself so intrigued that he buys a new hat because he’s in a detective frame of mind. Things seem to go according to plan at first, but as usual it’s only the killing itself that goes smoothly for Keller.
I was a little hesitant about this because Block had taken Keller through a journey in the novels that seemed to end with his happy retirement, but that’s kind of turned into a semi-retirement which I worried might undercut the entire Keller story a bit. However, Block’s landed at an interesting place with Keller and how he feels about his work so that him dipping a toe back into murder-for-hire doesn’t seem that out of place or a contradiction of what came before.
A lot of the previous books were built off short stories in which Keller goes on gigs that take weird turns while his doubts about what kind of person he was bubbled up in interesting ways. (Any TV producers looking for a crime series to adapt for a show could do a lot worse than Keller.) So getting another installment in this form seems like a natural fit, and I've always loved Keller's tendency to drift off on musings and questions sparked by everyday things he encounters. So it was a genuine delight to be back in Keller’s head that was sporting a spiffy new lid.
In addition to being a fine piece of writing it also functions as great advertising for the hat industry because I wanted to rush out and buy a fedora while reading it.
View all my reviews