Bernie, if you recall, is that likeable young New Yorker who has tempered his passion for stealing classy works of art with the more staid vocation of selling books. But his passion always reigns. In this eighth Bernie Rhodenbarr caper, author Lawrence Block mimics the murderer's M.O. in Agatha Christie's Audio Cassette edition.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful: Bernie Has His Busman's Honeymoon, May 12, 2003 Reviewer: Don Mitchell from a management consultant in Boston Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing nonessential valuables from rich people. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice! So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar in the Library is the eighth book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza, The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams and The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Despite that admonition, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar in the Rye comes next in the series. The series, always comical and satirical, continues the new turn begun in The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart. The spoof expands to the detective/thriller genre in general. I found this change to be a welcome and charming one. Anyone who is an Agatha Christie fan will appreciate the many references to And Then There Were None. And Then There Were None was my favorite mystery for many years. I loved the way that there seemed to be no solution . . . until the solution miraculously appeared from an unexpected direction. And that was before I knew what a red herring is in a mystery book. Although not duplicating all elements of Dame Agatha's masterpiece, you will find enough reflections to keep you entertained and more than normally amused. Another delightful element is that parts of the book relate to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. In truly spoofish fun, those parts of the story reflect the characterizations and style of those two great mystery writers. Bernie has once again fallen in love, with one Lettice Runcible by name, who adores anything English, even if it is an English country house set in New England. Bernie has arranged to take her to Cuttleford House (which fits that description) to enjoy the atmosphere, while he checks out the chance that a rare first edition of The Big Sleep resides there unappreciated by the current owners. He plans are desperately derailed when Lettice announces she cannot go because she's getting married instead. Crestfallen, but still curious about the Raymond Chandler volume, Bernie persuades Carolyn Kaiser, his lesbian best friend, to accompany Raffles, the cat, and him. Added to the usual humor between Bernie and Carolyn are the complications of being bed mates and others assuming that they are either married or lovers. On the way to Cuttleford House, a huge snowstorm sets in that makes travel difficult. Bernie soon begins discovering unexpected dead and live bodies while he tries to check out the library in the wee hours of the night. By the next morning, they are cut off by the storm . . . and the bodies begin to pile up. With no way to reach the police, Bernie had better get to the bottom of what's going on . . . or he may be next! The mystery is masterfully complicated and rewarding, for those who care about that aspect of the book. When I finished this one, I was sure that I had found the best book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series . . . and I still feel that way. This book is amazingly wonderful. The theme of this book focuses on the importance (and challenges involved in) treating other people with respect, kindness and consideration. Beware: Bad things happen when we do not! Donald Mitchell Co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage