Block, Lawrence. Burglars Can’t Be Choosers.

NY: HarperCollins, 1977.

Block came up this one while stumbling around trying to get through a dry spell — the nightmare of every working writer. It became the first in a series of ten somewhat lighthearted novels about New York gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr

— “gentleman” in the sense that he’ll steal you blind but he won’t assault you, he prefers to pick a lock rather than kick in a door, and he loathes firearms. In this case, he has taken a commission from someone else, entering an apartment to grab a blue leather box and deliver it unopened to the client. But once in there, he can’t find the box. And then a couple of cops charge in, having been alerted (apparently) by a neighbor who heard strange noises. Bernie buys them off — that’s how things are done in New York — but then a corpse turns up in the bedroom and suddenly it’s an entirely different crime. Bernie has to hide out and soon has the assistance of a nice girl who can’t believe he could be a killer. That’s really the only weak point in the early part of the plot: How could Bernie believe in her immediate willingness to help him out? Anyway, the plot is nice and complicated but not unbelievably so, the characters are well drawn, and the ending is entirely satisfying. It’s a fast read and an enjoyable one.

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Published in: on 3 February 2012 at 2:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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