Block, Lawrence. The Burglar in the Closet.

NY: HarperCollins, 1978.

This is the second novel in the series about Bernie Rhodenbarr, gentleman burglar. The first book was pretty good, and the later installments are quite good, the author having developed the character and his circumstances in more thorough detail, but this sophomore effort is really pretty weak.

Bernie is visiting the self-described World’s Greatest Dentist, who informs him he knows his patient is a burglar, and that he has a target to suggest to him — his ex-wife, Crystal. She has a great deal of valuable jewelry and Craig the dentist (who paid for it all) would very much like to see her lose it — with himself getting a percentage of the take, of course. So Bernie, who ordinarily prefers to find his own jobs, is nevertheless gleefully rifling her apartment while she’s out bar-hopping, but she comes home early and he has to take shelter in the bedroom closet. And then someone (unseen by Bernie, who is still in the closet) knocks on the door and stabs her in the heart with a dental scalpel. Naturally, the cops like the ex-husband for it. And, naturally, Craig rats out Bernie, who now has to solve the crime himself to stay out of jail. The investigation takes him to bars and lawyers’ offices and the apartments of several apparent accomplices, and also the bed of Jillian, a lovely young dental hygienist. And the dialogue is light and Bernie’s descriptions of events are generally funny, but the plot itself is relatively underdeveloped. Bernie seems able to work out events on the thinest of evidence — or else the reader simply isn’t being told the details of much of his investigation. Actually, I was expecting Jillian to turn out to have had a more active role in the murder, but Block was content to let her remain a spear-carrier. Not actually a bad book but far from being one of Block’s better efforts.

Published in: on 11 February 2012 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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