Keller’s Fedora by Lawrence Block is a Kindle Single stand-alone mystery short story. Published in 2016 it follows Keller (his real name) as he reverts to a long ago profession of hired assassin. He had pretty much retired from that type of work and had settled down with his wife (who knew he was an assassin) and his daughter (who didn’t know). The money he had saved from his assassin jobs allowed him to pursue his current love, stamp collecting.
But a call on a burner phone from his previous assignment agent, Dot, has him traveling to a small town in Illinois to act as a private detective in finding out who the boyfriend was who was spending a lot of time with the trophy wife of an older rich guy. First Keller will find him, then Keller will kill him.
When Keller finds and follows the wife he discovers that she likes to have free and frequent sex with anyone, such as the bag boy at the supermarket closest to her house. In the supermarket parking lot. Keller figures out immediately that it is not the bag boy who needs to be eliminated; he was just a momentary distraction for the bored wife. Keller spots a van arriving at the wife’s house. It goes into the garage for an afternoon. Harold, the van driver, then leaves and goes to a bar where he meets Pete and Roy. Keller enters the bar to hear the three of them discussing the charms of the trophy wife, Melanie. Keller now knows who he has to kill; he carries out the job and returns home.
Back in Illinois, husband Todd goes home early and finds that boyfriend Harold (deceased) has already been replaced by one of Harold’s friends. There is a phone call to Dot (assignment agent) and Keller is back on a train to Illinois to take care of the friend. He knows he will probably have to take care of more than one; the second person will be the other friend of Harold, either Pete or Roy.
But Keller makes a mistake. He enters a bar and finds the friends but they remember way too much about him. He feels he can no longer continue the job. But he does have an unused burner phone with only one number in the memory, the number of the client. A hint dropped in the right place might solve his problems.
This is a short story that is not fast-paced as far as action. It is highly entertaining to follow the mind twisting thoughts of Keller as he gets the job done despite mental meanderings through mostly irrelevant stuff. His mind was rarely on the job of an assassin. More frequently he commiserated with his daughter on the death of a white alligator at a nearby zoo.
Lawrence Block is a writer to always follow. All his books deliver a good, solid, pleasing reading experience.