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The Burglar On The Prowl [Hardcover]

Lawrence Block
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 4 2004 Block, Lawrence

"I don't play cards with men named Doc, or eat at places called Mom's. Or drink before I burgle. . . . It is, I should point out, not a career I would recommend for anyone. The fact that I evidently can't give it up doesn't mean I'm not well aware of the disagreeably sordid nature of what I do."

-- Bernie Rhodenbarr

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block returns with one of his most inspired and popular characters: the extraordinary Bernie Rhodenbarr. Antiquarian bookseller by day, burglar by night, Bernie has an innate knack, a gift, for getting into places designed to keep him out.

Sophisticated yet down-to-earth, philosophical yet practical, Bernie is a gentleman who knows and loves his territory, the gloriously diverse and electric streets of Manhattan; a connoisseur who surrounds himself with the finer things in life, including his tailless Manx tabby, Raffles, and good friends like his neighbor Carolyn. In fact, it's a friend who gets him in his latest jam. Bernie is minding his own business when he's asked for a favor -- a neat, uncomplicated bit of vengeful larceny that will reap a tidy profit -- an offer the intrepid thief can't refuse.

But with a few days to go before the crime, Bernie gets restless. So what does a burglar do to change his mood? Go on the prowl, of course. Though not the best way to do business, as he well knows. This bit of prowling lands Bernie in a pile of trouble that includes four murders and the burglary of his own home. Caught in the center of a deadly mystery, he must use his wits and wiles to connect the dots and add up the coincidences. Because if Bernie doesn't catch a killer, he'll lose not only his freedom but his life.

Infused with the rich atmosphere of New York City and filled with a smart, charming cast of characters headed by the stylish Bernie, The Burglar on the Prowl is an engaging and delightfully suspenseful tale sure to be savored by Block fans old and new.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

You'd think that Block, with more than 50 books to his credit, would run out of ideas, but as this 10th in his Burglar series shows (after 1999's The Burglar in the Rye), he's as fresh, witty and inventive as ever. The author builds his plot on stupefying coincidences, but not to worry—everything eventually meshes. A friend asks Bernie Rhodenbarr, confirmed New Yorker, used-book dealer and gentleman burglar, to rob a mob-connected plastic surgeon who stole the friend's mistress. He agrees, and cases the doctor's house in Riverdale, the Bronx. But Bernie is restive and, uncharacteristically (because he plans carefully), he breaks into a Manhattan apartment on a whim and almost gets caught, hiding under the bed while a woman is date-raped. Next day a customer is shot near his bookstore, a mysterious émigré couple is murdered, a former Latvian war criminal is reported in New York and Bernie's apartment is ransacked. These crimes seem unrelated in such a large city, but Bernie finds a common thread. In the end, Bernie assembles 22 people (including lawmen) in the surgeon's living room and, Charlie Chan style, explains each participant's role and, where appropriate, crime. Lesser hands would not bring off this breathtaking performance, but in Block's it's seamless and hilarious. Quirky characters like Bernie's pals Carolyn Kaiser, the dog groomer, and cop Ray Kirschmann; an insider's love of New York; and a slew of wonderful puns add to the fun.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Bernie is back! To devoted followers of genre stalwart Block's comic series starring Bernie Rhodenbarr, the dry-witted bookseller-thief, a new adventure reads like a treasured stand-up routine, with a few details altered. Sure, it's formula, but that's the fun. We know that when Bernie breaks into someone's home, he will either find a dead body or be trapped under the bed while something bad happens above him. We wait for it, like comedy fans waiting for a familiar punch line. This time Bernie's under the bed, and to make matters worse, he's spotted on a security camera outside the building, making him a suspect in a murder-robbery that took place next door. Then there's the problem of the Black Scourge of Riga, and don't forget the fat man who paid $1,300 dollars for a $12 copy of Conrad's Secret Agent. There's more, of course, and none of it makes much sense, either to Bernie or his pal Carolyn, who offers her usual invaluable counsel while bemoaning the difficulties of finding a girlfriend online. But not to worry, by the last chapter, Bernie gets to say his favorite line, the one we wait for the longest: "I suppose you're all wondering why I summoned you here . . ." No, Bernie, I know full well: to enjoy superb light entertainment, to cackle at your devilish wit, and to relish the glee with which your creator constructs his confoundingly clever, coincidence-cluttered plots. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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The man, said my friend Marty Gilmartin, ""is an absolute...a utter and total..."" He held out his hands, shook his head, and sighed." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Bags the Baddies!! May 15 2004
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
If you haven't met Lawrence Block's busy bookselling burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr, you have ten treats ahead of you that include The Burglar on the Prowl. Bernie's addicted to burgling. He loves the feeling of being in someone else's place when they are not there, and he adores the loot that he lifts. But he has a conscience. He remembers being burgled himself, and avoids taking items of sentimental value to the owners. If he sees a wrong, he'll do what it takes to right it . . . even if there's nothing in it for old Bernie.
Although it's usually best to start at the beginning of a series (in this case with Burglars Can't Be Choosers), Mr. Block does a good job of providing background in this story so you could begin with this one without losing very much enjoyment.
The Burglar on the Prowl starts off innocently enough. Old friend Marty Gilmartin (the owner of the baseball cards that were stolen in The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams) has a bone to pick with a fellow roué, plastic surgeon Crandall Rountree Mapes, who has seduced and alienated the affections of his girl friend. Never mind that both Gilmartin and Mapes are both married. Gilmartin wants vengeance. Gilmartin tells Bernie that Mapes keeps lots of cash in a wall safe at home and gives Bernie the address. Gilmartin is even willing to give up his usual finder's fee if Bernie will lift the loot.
Bernie dutifully cases the joint, sees a way to pull off the caper, and heads home to watch Law and Order on television. Feeling twitchy, he decides to go out again. That impulse to go on the prowl sets off an incredible set of events that reverberate throughout the novel. After a lot of pondering, he decides he wants to burgle a brownstone . . . and wanders around until he finds one that calls out to him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Steals The Show May 11 2004
It's strange to read books with criminals as the protagonists. In the real world you read about these guys in the paper or you come home to find yourself a victim of their handiwork and you rage "these people must be stopped". But put them in a fictional story and make them decent people apart from the burglary thing and you find yourself rooting for them, hoping they get away with it. This is my experience when reading the Burglar books, at least.
Lawrence Block is probably best known for his hardboiled Matt Scudder series, a P.I. series featuring the deeply troubled alcoholic as he fights his way through life. The Burglar series is a much lighter series and this book, THE BURGLAR ON THE PROWL is the 10th in the series. The series features Bernie Rhodenbarr, a bookstore owner who moonlights as a professional burglar.
Bernie is asked by a friend to burgle the home of a plastic surgeon as a favour for stealing his girlfriend. He's looking for a form of revenge and the fact that the surgeon has a safe filled with cash sweetens the deal. Springing from this plot come a rather unusual chain of events, murders, robberies and the like, that are unrelated at first glance but closer inspection reveals that the country of Latvia is making a disturbing number of appearances. It seems that no matter which way Bernie moves, he either meets someone from Latvia or Latvia is brought up in conversation. It really becomes a head scratcher that is as amusing as it is perplexing.
Although Bernie outlines the rules that a burglar must adhere to if he wants to stay out of trouble, but while waiting to pull off the plastic surgeon job he can't help but break one of those rules putting it down to restlessness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vunderbar for Rhoddenbar! May 7 2004
I've been reading Block's books for 25 years, starting with The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep, and while I am an avowed fan of the author, am also able to admit that some of his offerings have been far from top-notch.
This book, however, is first-rate fun. An entertaining and breezy mystery with quirky characters, superb burgling, and a size that's just right for the content. Block is rarely guilty of over-writing, and like Elmore Leonard, writes great dialogue that moves the story along.
The story here is the weak element. While the plot is joyful and interesting, the sheer number of coincidences that play such an important part in the story become a bit much after a while. The conclusion of the book fails to bring all the salient elements together, and to his credit Block's protagonist admits as much. I have a feeling Block wrote himself into a corner and sort of crapped out on the ending.
You know what? I didn't care. I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, convoluted and fun April 26 2004
I consider Lawrence Block more a storyteller than novelist. His plots and characters are quirky, often taking unexpected - and sometimes irrelevant - turns.
"Burglar On The Prowl" is an excellent example of Block's skills as a storyteller.
Bernie Rhodenbarr is a bookseller, operating a small used bookstore. At least on occasion, when he decides to open the store. But wait, Bernie has another occupation: he's also a burglar. Bernie is thus an unusually literate and articulate criminal.
A friend asks a favor of Bernie. Just a little thing: burgle the house of the friend's nemesis. No problem for Bernie. In fact, he'll bring a friend. Bernie you see is a very sociable burglar and has a wide circle of friends, all of whom he seems to have told of his penchant for burglary.
There's a hard moment before Bernie can oblige his friend: another friend, a cop, hauls Bernie in connection with a multiple homicide. The cop, almost a refugee from a Damon Runyan story, has concluded that Bernie must have been in cahoots with the murderers because the burgled safe would have demanded Bernie's skills to crack.
Bernie, of course, has something like a get out of jail free card and is sprung in short order by his lawyer who recently took up martial arts. This latter detail and many like it become important later.
Everything becomes important latter because Bernie is a marvelous character who lives in a world of marvelous happenings, all of which eventually wind up as cogs in a big machine - the story Block is telling.
Block may not be to everyone's tastes. I sometimes can't make it all the way through his stories. But "Burglar On The Prowl" is a fun read.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Why I prefer Matt Scudder
Everything Block writes is worth reading, but this is more for the cozy reader. It's a little talky. The plot appears to meander. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Richard B. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Block fan!!
This was my first ever Lawrence Block book and it certainly wont be the last! Its was fun, funny and easy to read. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by Rachel Auton
4.0 out of 5 stars back to the basics
After the successful stylistic experiments of the last couple of Bernie Rhodenbarr novels, THE BURGLAR ON THE PROWL is a return to the earlier form of the series. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by Esther Rabinowitz
3.0 out of 5 stars All of the author's usual devices don't add up this time
I love Lawrence Block's novels, and I sure hope he isn't starting to give a diminished effort by just throwing together all the standard components of his The Burglar series,... Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by David Rain
5.0 out of 5 stars A Funny and Fun Read
Lawrence Block's Burglar on the Prowl is a lot of fun, probably won't win the Pulitzer Prize, but still, it is fun to read. Burglar on the Prowl is the first book by Mr. Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by Elizabeth Hendry
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcoming back an old friend.
Previous reviewers have laid out the plot (and given away some of the twists and turns --- I'm glad I didn't read the reviews until AFTER I had read the book!). Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by penandra
4.0 out of 5 stars A Resoundingly Well-Written Novel
There was a point last year where people who knew me would cross the street when they saw me coming because they were afraid I would start talking about SMALL TOWN by Lawrence... Read more
Published on March 28 2004 by Bookreporter
5.0 out of 5 stars Now THIS is more like it!
If you are a Bernie fan, run out and grab one of these books today and you will feel like you did when you discovered your first Bernie novel, it is that good. Read more
Published on March 25 2004 by Mike Midler
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernie's the best
I so look forward to each installment in the Bernie Rhoddenbarr series. This book lived up to my expectations. Read more
Published on March 24 2004 by Scott A. Misko
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