These Guns for Hire - J.A. Konrath As with all collections, these stories vary in interest and quality. Still, most are quite good. My favorite hitman story is in the form of a FBI transcript who have bugged two mobsters who are having dinner in a restaurant. One is regaling the other with his latest assignment. He had been asked to take out a lemur. Apparently, the animal belonged to the squeeze of one of their friends and the guy would come home to his wife covered with lemur hair and his wife wanted to know where he was hanging out and was getting suspicious. Seems simple enough. But he can't shoot the lemur; "he's got these eyes, sorta like your grandma..." So he figures he'll entice the lemur out of the cage with some crackers and then haul him off somewhere. Well things go from bad to worse when the lemur escapes out the window, bops the guy over the head with a toilet brush, fakes his death and casues the hitman to be pulled over for drunk driving. He passes the sobriety test with flying colors only to discover the lemur has locked all the car doors. Etc. Very amusing story.

The collection also includes another Keller story, very baseball oriented,for those who love Lawrence Black as I do. I thought I had read all the Keller stories, but must have missed (or forgotten - God forbid) this one. Another favorite was by Jeff Strand (who usually write horror, not a genre I find much time for) which is a comedic conversation between the target of an assassination and the assassin, an ex-Wal-Mart employee who agreed to do the hit for $50. It's wonderful, including the grape juice on the carpet.

As to why hitmen stories are popular? One author I think said it best in the introduction to his story. They represent an inversion of the traditional mystery and we find ourselves drawn to the competent person who manages to outwit the opposition.