The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block

Bernie Rhodenbarr, #3


Bernie Rhodenbarr has gone legit – almost – as the new owner of a used bookstore in New York's Greenwich Village. Of course, dusty old tomes don't always turn a profit, so to make ends meet, Bernie's forced, on occasion, to indulge in his previous occupation: burglary. Besides which, he likes it.

Now a collector is offering Bernie an opportunity to combine his twin passions by stealing a very rare and very bad book-length poem from a rich man's library.

The heist goes off without a hitch. The delivery of the ill-gotten volume, however, is a different story. Drugged by the client's female go-between, Bernie wakes up in her apartment to find the book gone, the lady dead, a smoking gun in his hand, and the cops at the door. And suddenly he's got to extricate himself from a rather sticky real-life murder mystery and find a killer – before he's booked for Murder One.

The Bernie Rhodenbarr series remains an unusual series since the main character is an unapologetic burglar who doesn't lose sleep over swiping some valuables. This time Bernie is behind the front of a used bookstore he wants to succeed with, but he's drawn into a shady deal against his better judgement when conned into a valuable book deal of all things.

Outside the same police detective that Bernie bribes occasionally, there continues to be no continuing cast. All new people yet again, dependable and non-judgemental women. It does grow old in the series that, by continuously recycling out any regular characters, there is no need for Bernie to have a continued, developing or layered relationship.

I do find it refreshing how matter of factly the lesbian relationship was treated, especially considered it was the 70s and published, but I suppose it's about a burglar being okay with breaking and entering and robbing people of their possessions, so why have any hang ups about what people do in the bedroom?

The detective is a returner, as I said, and he's amusing. I always liked him. He speaks in the classic noir type - chopped and figuratively, much like Bernie and those he interacts with. Like a lot of crime novels, each character's dialogue rings as too similar to be wholly believable.

The story just wasn't that interesting, despite it's bonuses. I was bored in a few sections and kind of ready for it to be over by the time I was halfway through.

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