Friday, April 03, 2009

Slightly Reformed Burglar vs. Anti-Semitic Kipling

Title: The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling
Author: Lawrence Block
Bookmark: nametag from a wedding invitation

I've been plowing through a long string of mysteries lately, and they're almost always fun, but few are ever as much fun as a Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery. Bernie is one of Lawrence Block's more likable creations, a burglar who got tired of going to prison and opened a bookshop. Apparently, he's learned a lot from the mistakes he's made in the past, because he burgles at least five places just in this book--one of them twice--and his only interaction with the police is a slightly dirty cop who keeps trying to get him to acquire a fur coat for his wife.

Bernie is brilliant. In the first chapter, he foils a shoplifter in his store, charges the man for the stolen property, and when the man protests that he doesn't want the books (he was only going to resell them to other dealers), Bernie buys them back for 20% of what he charged the man. The shoplifter leaves $40 lighter, and Bernie pockets the forty bucks and reshelves the books.

Soon he's hired to steal a rare, one-of-a-kind printing of a bad book-length Kipling poem, is held at gunpoint for the pilfered pages, gets framed for murder, and goes on the lam in his friend Carolyn's apartment, fighting one of her cats for the big chair by the radio. To stay ahead of everyone, Bernie has to figure out who stole the book from him, who framed him for murder, who has the book now, why it's so damned important, and somehow hand over all guilty parties to the police without getting nabbed himself. No problem. Because Bernie is brilliant, funny as hell, and aided by his loyal sidekick and lesbian dog-groomer soulmate Carolyn.

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posted by reyn at 4:55 PM


Blogger ~e said...

if you liked that, you should have seen the favors.

5/01/2009 7:32 PM  
Blogger reyn said...

Dammit! I already feel bad about missing it! Don't tell me I missed out on more Legos!!

5/02/2009 10:50 AM  

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