I know. As a fairly avid consumer of genre fiction, I'm seriously behind the eight-ball with just now "discovering" Lawrence Block. But it wasn't until I read The Best Mystery Stories of 2007 that I first came across Block and his sympathetic hit man, John Keller. Yesterday (yes, just yesterday) I hunted down Hit List at a used book store and devoured it in around 24 hours.
The first hit in the book takes place right here in Louisville, and I appreciated Block's careful rendering of my fair city. I don't know if there was ever a stamp collector's store in the Mid-City Mall, but I think I pegged the MCM from the description of the mall on Bardstown Road.
Keller is charming and thoughtful and Block does an amazing job of making him heroic despite his profession and the vaguely callous way he carries it out. My favorite character, though, is his agent, Dot and despite the lack of plot motion during their endless Seinfeldian "conversations about nothing," they're some of my favorite parts of the book.
Both thriller and mystery, Hit List has almost a picaresque feel to it. Each "hit" is a story unto itself as well as a building block to the larger mystery.