Thursday, January 22, 2009

Read Lately: Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

  • One of the best things about reading the entire publishing library from Hard Case Crime is discovering old and new authors that I might not have read otherwise, such as Lawrence Block. One of the best things about marrying my beautiful and intelligent wife is that she's smart enough to search the Internet and find out what else Mr. Block has written. For Christmas, I was surprised to recieve the first Bernie Rhodenbarr novel, Burglars Can't Be Choosers.
  • Bernie Rhodenbarr, as the title suggests, is a burglar. He only works a few nights a year, stealing from the rich and giving to himself. It sounds like an easy life. When he's approached by a strangely familiar man to perform a theft for hire, his life as a gentleman burglar is upended. All it takes is a surprise police intrusion and a recently deceased corpse to get Bernie on the run.
  • Block has an easy style to read, but does not devolve into a faux noir patois that can hobble other writers. Instead, he infuses the book with a mild humor that offsets what could otherwise be a grim tale. Bernie Rhodenbarr may be in a difficult spot, but he does not let the gravity of his circumstances overwhelm him.
  • Instead of the crime novel I was expecting, Burglars Can't Be Choosers is very much a mystery. Throughout the book, Bernie goes about collecting clues as to who committed the murder and why he was involved in it. While everything flows well, If there is a problem with the book it would be the overly convoluted solution. I was shaking my head by the time I turned the last page. It was not bad ending by any measure, but it was unnecessary.
  • Nonetheless, Lawrence Block is still a great find. Since he has been writing so long, I can look forward to reading many more by him. I'm very interested to know where Bernie Rhodenbarr goes from here.

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