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Book Review: Hit and Run by Lawrence Block

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Once in a while you come across a book that is a breeze to read, yet packed with enough detail and suspense to keep you glued to the page. New York Times best-selling author Lawrence Block's Hit and Run is a prime example of a mystery novel that doesn't bog you down with detail – instead, he leaves you with a new and refreshing take on the mystery genre.

Keller is a hit man who happens to be an amiable stamp collector. Framed for the murder of a famous political figure, he is on the run from the authorities, all the while trying to figure out who gave him the wrong end of the stick.

He isn't particularly out for revenge – all he wants to do is to get back to his New York apartment through a cross-country drive from Des Moines, Iowa, to get to the possession that he treasures the most: his prized stamp collection. Along the way, the reader is given glimpses of what it is like to embark on such a journey through several perspectives: cheap motels, interstate highways, plenty of rest areas and drive through fast-food. One is reminded of author Richard Stark's character Parker (Mel Gibson portays him as "Porter" in the 1999 movie Payback), except that he is less mean and is more plain, reasonable, and civilized.

The novel itself is a fast-paced, easy read, but author Block makes it different from other similar mystery novels by the unique character of the protagonist Keller: he is, killing aside, a very, very decent man with a simple and boring hobby, which happens to provide the twist in this relatively uncomplicated read.

The only plot device that could have been shortened or left out entirely would be Keller's mid-book romance; you expect the suspenseful narrative to go on before you encounter the middle chapters, and you have to wade through a couple of dialogue filled pages to get back to the meat of the story. However, this is entirely understandable, as Keller does need someone to talk to after all those weeks on the road and on the run.

Hit and Run is part four of the John Keller Mysteries – all written by Mr. Block, and hopefully this will not be the last.  Part thriller, part romance, part road trip and most of all, wickedly comedic bordering on the absurd, Hit and Run is the type of novel that should be made into a movie one day. If you are looking for a book to take with you on a weekend trip somewhere, Hit and Run is highly recommended.

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