Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Burglar In the Closet

by Lawrence Block

Bernie Rhodenbarr, the debonair and non-violent burglar, is back, again implicated in a murder that takes place in the very domicile he is stealing from.  Bernie’s dentist knows he’s a burglar, and convinces him to rob the dentist’s ex-wife’s apartment, where she keeps a lot of jewelry.  She returns unexpectedly, and hiding in a closet, Bernie hears her death, but does not see her killer.  The dentist is not a likely suspect, since Bernie hit the place on a different day than the one agreed upon, but that leaves a list of possible lovers and acquaintances Bernie needs to look at to take the heat off himself.  It’s another charming, witty mystery; with his self-effacing yet urbane burglar, Block is as masterful at the comic caper as he is at the rough noir of Matthew Scudder’s world.  Bernie’s narration is highly entertaining, with zany plot turns and some offbeat characters to add to the lighthearted tone.  The main “reveal” of the killer’s name is less than ingenious, but on the whole it’s a clever book; it gets by on wit and charm.

four stars

[follows Burglars Can't Be Choosers] 

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