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Burglar Who Studied Spinoza Mass Market Paperback – Nov 23 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (MM); Reprint edition (Nov. 23 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451194888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451194886
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.1 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,375,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

This 1980 title is the fourth in Block's popular "Burglar" series to be republished by Dutton. The plot follows title character Bernie Rhodenbarr?bookseller by day, thief by night?as he stumbles into a murder and a setup.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Around five-thirty I put down the book I'd been reading and started shooing customers out of the store. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not pleasant reading. By this statement I don't mean that the writer was not an excellent observer of the society in which he lived. Quite the contrary. The book was written in 1980, and the author picked up the atmosphere painstakingly.
The women are coarse and promiscuous, there is not only one token gay person, but two, and jumping from bed to bed is the style of the day. No wonder that the little thief Bernie, who wouldn't kill anyone, comes out as the most sympathetic and genuine person.
I don't pretend to know whether nowadays the situation is much different. But the former arrogance is no longer there.
However, Block was, of course, right. That time, 30 years ago, I happened to be teaching a world literature in a college. My students, the girls, were 24+ years old and I was unable to convince them that the text we were reading was a love story. They were just waiting when "he" will betray "her". Men were considered traitors, a priori, and there was no expectation and no feelings in those girls. They were brainwashed before they had lived. Because they didn't expect anything, therefore, to most of them, nothing happened.
The book is highly educated, but for me it was not enough to compensate for the unpleasant feeling.
So, it stands as a testimony about a different age, not so long ago, for those who may not believe us.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 8 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing valuables. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice!
So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza is the fourth book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet and The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Although, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian comes next in the series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book because I adore Spinoza, and figured any crook who has studied Spinoza can't be all bad, as of course Bernie is not. And Abel, his fence, is not. Abel is simply given to excess. His lifestyle, including his eating habits, he supports through non-legal efforts. Bernie, the narrator, one of Abel's partners in crime, has "pretty much" gone straight, probably because he knows--sooner or later-- crime really doesn't pay. But when you have a hobby...well, you've got to apply yourself to it, at least occasionally. The love interest is early on fairly predictable, but you don't want to bet the farm until the last few pages. The 3 main characters are fully formed. Their needs and fears, their hopes and dreams--everything that makes us human--are explored, Spinoza fashion, through relationships, deeds, and the solving of a murder. Sometimes the "bad" guy gets away, sometimes not. Sometimes the "good" guy gets a raw deal, sometimes not. There is a little bit of everything in this, women, children, animals, relationships, theft, big money, murder, philosophy, psychology... all overlapping in a complex but not complicated fashion. It's the way life does us.
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Format: Hardcover
If you read the publication materials carefully you will notice that the book was copywritten in 1980, but not published till 1997. There are anachronisms in the text that make this clear. Though it reads as if the author and the reader share the same time zone (eastern, very eastern) silver is $20 an ounce, telephone calls cost a dime, and jogging is still a new fad. The plot could also use some revision, because the denoument, which I won't spoil more than it already is, doesn't really convince this reader, who is a very big Lawrence Block fan. What continues to please are the voice, the characters, the relationship between Bernie and his buddy, and the general sense of decency and good humor, so refreshing in a professional criminal. Block's last Matthew Scudder felt a little recycled , too. And his latest is a revival of a character he hasn't written about in almost twenty years. Why all this rehashing? Is he tired? Did he fall off the wagon? Does he have a new and more interesting hobby?
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