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The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Bernie Rhodenbarr) Paperback – December 25, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 325 customer reviews
Book 11 of 12 in the Bernie Rhodenbarr Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Block fans who feared the Bernie Rhodenbarr series was finished will rejoice to see that the bookseller-thief lives to steal again! All the usual suspects are back—Bernie; his lesbian sidekick, Carolyn; and his nemesis/friend, NYPD cop Ray Kirschbaum—and all are in fine fettle. The plot wanders a bit—from a Fitzgerald manuscript through a dead dowager and on to a whole bunch of rare buttons—but if it’s the charismatic Bernie doing the wandering (and peppering his peregrinations with puns of the biblio variety), who really cares? Certainly not anyone who has made Bernie’s acquaintance in any of his 10 previous adventures. And, besides, if the multistranded plot seems to be unraveling along the way, it makes the signature finale (borrowed, of course, from Nero Wolfe), when Bernie gathers all the suspects at his bookstore and reveals who dun what, all the more satisfying. Does Block’s decision to self-publish Bernie’s latest under his own LB imprint suggest that more will be on the way, or that this single LB title will become a bibliographic rarity of special interest to Block collectors (and even, possibly, to a thief with Bernies literary tastes)? --Bill Ott


“Bernie is such a likeable goof, the dialogue so finely crafted and the plot so twisted that one sitting is all it takes on this book.” —Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“All of Block’s Bernie books are outrageously funny.” —Associated Press

“The bookseller-thief remains one of the most endearing characters in the genre, and combined with a stellar supporting cast, remarkably clever premises, and nonstop humor, the series offers terrific entertainment.” —Booklist

“Lawrence Block is a marvel.” —Boulder Planet

“Hilarious…zany…madcap stuff. Perfectly satisfying. The dialogue is crisp, the concept witty, and the pace is more than brisk.” —Buffalo News

“Breezy style, entertaining dialog, and sharp one-liners.” —Charlotte Observer

“Intoxicating writing.” —Chicago Tribune

“Block is a master of witty dialogue, plotting and pace, and the series’ wacky, offbeat characters make great companions.” —Cleveland Plain-Dealer

“Fans will welcome it. New readers will delight in it. A witty, and always affectionate, sendup of the genre.” —Denver Post

“Clever and amusing.” —Detroit Free Press

“Wittily diverting…rather like an Agatha Christie novel narrated by Basil Fawlty, or a game of Clue organized by Monty Python.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Block peoples his mystery with a wacky cast of characters who all happen to have a knack for snappy dialogue, the wackiest and snappiest being Bernie himself, of course.” —Florida Times-Union

“Rhodenbarr is one of the slickest characters in crime, and Block…one of the most talented writers.” —Houston Chronicle

“…you’d rather be stranded on a desert island with [Bernie Rhodenbarr] than with any other detective in fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In his Matthew Scudder books, Block is one of the most serious of crime novelists. When he chronicles Bernie…Block is one of the funniest…[Bernie] is enough to give burglary a good name.” —Los Angeles Times

“Wonderfully funny…Block’s effortless first-person narrative and zippy dialogue is as pleasing as escapist fare ever gets.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Classy. Interesting and fun…no one does Manhattan any better than Lawrence Block with these incredible tales…one of the best satirical mystery series on the market today.” —Midwest Book Review

“The joy…is Bernie’s sharp tongue and wit.” —Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“His canny survival instincts, combined with his irrepressible sense of humor, make Bernie Rhodenbarr one of detective fiction’s most engaging heroes.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Literary entertainment does not get any better than this. If you’ve never tried the Burglar books, you couldn’t ask for a better time to start.” —Mystery News

“Lawrence Block is a master of the art of mystery.” —New Orleans Time-Picayune

“[Block] is one of the great mystery writers of all time. And gets better as he goes. Rhodenbarr is a wonderful New York character with a knack for surrounding himself with colorful eccentrics…bite, wit, and enough stylish attitude to power the Plaza for a week.” —New York Daily New

“A witty series, Bernie is incorrigibly adorable. Between his inquiring mind and his sticky fingers, Bernie is the ideal sleuth. Notre Dame at dusk. Pepy’s account of the great fire of London. A really good cashmere coat. Some treasures are timeless…I feel like putting Bernie Rhodenbarr on that list.” —New York Times Book Review

“As good as it gets. Rhodies will eat it up.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Block’s touch is light, his creations literary soufflés that both please and leave you hungry for more.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Clever, witty…Too hip to be Poirot, too gentlemanly to be Philip Marlowe, Rhodenbarr brings his own style to murder mystery fiction.” —Providence Sunday Journal

“[An] addictive series…Block’s effortless mastery of the material, his relaxed ease, are as pleasurable as always. Pure pleasure. Bernie Rhodenbarr…is one of Block’s most stylish creations.” —Publishers Weekly

“Lawrence Block clearly has a great deal of fun writing his Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries, and the sense of whimsy is infectious.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Once again, Block has produced a funny and eminently readable mystery with clever plotting and amusing twists.” —Roanoke Times

“Engaging. Have you read Block’s [Rhodenbarr} mysteries? You should. They are a real kick. Bernie Rhodenbarr is one of the most charming and witty characters in the burglar business.” —Rocky Mountain News

“One of the mystery genre’s favorite characters. Delightful. Good fun.” —San Antonio Express-News

“Bernie Rhodenbarr, lighthearted and light-fingered, is a most ingratiating sleuth. Delightful…good, clean fun…thank goodness for Lawrence Block.” —San Diego Union-Tribune

“Bernie Rhodenbarr is such an outrageous and witty character, you wish he were real.” —San Francisco Examiner

“Block’s Burglar series is one of crime fiction’s best.” —South Bend Tribune

“It’s the mark if an innovative storyteller to turn a normally reprehensible character into a hero—of sorts. Author Lawrence Block’s Bernie the burglar series aren’t just good mysteries, they’re supreme escapism…Bernie is sheer amusement.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Bernie Rhodenbarr is the perfect companion.” —Tampa Tribune

“Wonderfully detailed and inspired writing…Bernie Rhodenbarr doesn’t have to try for hipness, because hip is in the very air he breathes…He is cute without being cuddly, he is witty without looking like he’s striving for it, and he is rakish without possessing a single mean streak in his lithe and sinuous body. His plots are cunning and inventive…and his language—I suppose we should say Lawrence Block’s language—is dry and droll and elegant, like how Dashiell Hammett would write if he were still doing the Thin Man books today.” —The Guardian

“With a writer like Block, a master plotter, trying to figure out the guilty party can definitely keep you turning the pages.” —Toronto Star

“Wonderful…hilarious dialogue and characters you wish you could invite over for supper. Block is a hoot, plain and simple. [Block’s] written dialogue has the honesty of a conversation overheard on a bus…Bernie Rhodenbarr is a lot-of-laughs burglar. Recommended reading…Age has not dimmed Rhodenbarr’s considerable charms. The wit runs fast and plot twists are quick as a cat burglar.” —USA Today

“[Block] always seems to be having the time of his life in this series about a nimble-witted New York City antiquarian book dealer and still once-in-a-while…burglar. If you like Donald Westlake’s capers, you’ll love Bernie. Mystery writers with the comic touch are rare, and Block is one of the best.” —Washington Post Book World

“[Block] is as much a pro at writing mysteries as Rhodenbarr is at stealing. Beyond the mechanics of building a mystery, however, Block hasn’t lost the mischievous gleam in his writing eye that leads readers through the twists and turns of a satisfying plot.” —Wisconsin State Journal

“It’s joyous stuff.” —Ian Rankin

“An absolute delight! Bernie has always been one of my favorite heroes and I couldn’t restrain my excitement when I learned he was back. This is classic Block: Clever, original, fast-paced, and populated with characters we completely believe and love spending time with. Retirement be damned! Larry better be at work on the next one in the series. That’s all I can say.” —Jeffery Deaver

“Finding a new Bernie Rhodenbarr Burglar book is like meeting up with an old friend.” —Festivale

“I was hooked from the opening scene and devoured the book in two sittings.” —Dangerous Dan

“If you enjoy consistently erudite, witty, clever writing, and who amongst us does not, you will find much to love here.” —Gloria Feit

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 60%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Product Details

  • Series: Bernie Rhodenbarr (Book 11)
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Lawrence Block; 1 edition (December 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991068424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991068425
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lawrence Block (b. 1938) is the recipient of a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and an internationally renowned bestselling author. His prolific career spans over one hundred books, including four bestselling series as well as dozens of short stories, articles, and books on writing. He has won four Edgar and Shamus Awards, two Falcon Awards from the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan, the Nero and Philip Marlowe Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of the United Kingdom. In France, he has been awarded the title Grand Maitre du Roman Noir and has twice received the Societe 813 trophy.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Block attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Leaving school before graduation, he moved to New York City, a locale that features prominently in most of his works. His earliest published writing appeared in the 1950s, frequently under pseudonyms, and many of these novels are now considered classics of the pulp fiction genre. During his early writing years, Block also worked in the mailroom of a publishing house and reviewed the submission slush pile for a literary agency. He has cited the latter experience as a valuable lesson for a beginning writer.

Block's first short story, "You Can't Lose," was published in 1957 in Manhunt, the first of dozens of short stories and articles that he would publish over the years in publications including American Heritage, Redbook, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, GQ, and the New York Times. His short fiction has been featured and reprinted in over eleven collections including Enough Rope (2002), which is comprised of eighty-four of his short stories.

In 1966, Block introduced the insomniac protagonist Evan Tanner in the novel The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep. Block's diverse heroes also include the urbane and witty bookseller--and thief-on-the-side--Bernie Rhodenbarr; the gritty recovering alcoholic and private investigator Matthew Scudder; and Chip Harrison, the comical assistant to a private investigator with a Nero Wolfe fixation who appears in No Score, Chip Harrison Scores Again, Make Out with Murder, and The Topless Tulip Caper. Block has also written several short stories and novels featuring Keller, a professional hit man. Block's work is praised for his richly imagined and varied characters and frequent use of humor.

A father of three daughters, Block lives in New York City with his second wife, Lynne. When he isn't touring or attending mystery conventions, he and Lynne are frequent travelers, as members of the Travelers' Century Club for nearly a decade now, and have visited about 150 countries.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful addition to a very funny series. I can't remember the last book that gave me as many laughs!

It is ALMOST a 5 EXCEPT (I am going to be somewhat cryptic here to avoid spoilers.) for one aspect of the ending. A typical ending for a Burglar book is that justice is done...sorta...but not necessarily by the bad guys being arrested and led away. I wouldn't exactly call it "amoral" but maybe "differently moraled". Given the tone of the books, I can usually go along with that, but in this case the resolution of one particular thread left me very dissatisfied.

However, in the midst of the graphic violent depressing (perhaps depraved) thrillers that are filling the shelves today, the Burglar seems, well, almost gentle. Who am I to quibble about the morals involved? Give yourself a spell of real fun; go ahead and read it! We all need a laugh.
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After an absence of nearly ten years, Bernie Rhodenbarr, burglar and bookstore owner, returns in The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons. For those who haven't yet made his acquaintance, Bernie is the creation of Lawrence Block, who is also known for his hit man series featuring John Keller, and his brilliant P.I. series that features Matthew Scudder.

The Rhodenbarr books are much more light-hearted that the Scudder books, and Bernie is blessedly free of the demons that have haunted his stable mate through the years. Bernie thinks of himself as the last of the Gentlemen Burglars and he's much quicker with his wit than with his fists or with any other sort of weapon.

These books generally follow a formula in which Bernie is burgling a house or an apartment, almost always belonging to someone who can well-afford to lose whatever it might be that Bernie is about to relieve them of. Then, in the course of things, a body inconveniently appears, though never as a part of Bernie's handiwork.

The case will be investigated by Bernie's nemesis, the fumbling police detective, Ray Kirschmann. Ray always assumes that Bernie is responsible for the homicide and Bernie then has to solve the crime in order to save his own skin. Almost always this involves gathering all the potential subjects together at the end, in the style of Agatha Christie, so that Bernie can explain the logic of the crime and finally point the finger at the Real Killer.

It's always a lot of fun to watch the story unfold and while this book deviates slightly from the traditional formula, it's certain to entertain anyone who's enjoyed the series through the years.
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If you're a Lawrence Block fan... it's like when you were a kid... and your favorite Uncle would visit... filled with mysterious stories... filled with lots of quirky characters... and enough humor to keep you smiling... while you were on the edge of your seat. Well Block is back... and even after reading over forty of his books... I always celebrate his return... and the Grand Master is still at the top of his game!

Not only is Bernie Rhodenbarr... one of the last "gentleman" burglars back... but luckily for the reader... some of his old pals are with him "kibitzing" to and fro... as if it was the first day of spring training. His best friend and drinking and eating buddy... dog washer... sidekick Carolyn Kaiser... is front and center... bending elbows... bantering about everything from gay marriage... to American History... and she gets to fulfill some of her unfulfilled goals... such as assisting in some current burglaries. The pace really picks up in the hilarious mano y mano verbal jousting area... when old adversary... NYPD Detective Ray Kirschmann... bursts upon the scene. Some of their exchanges are worthy of Abbot and Costello's "Who's On First".

Bernie still owns anachronistic Barnegat Books... but what does it matter how little he takes in over the counter... when he owns the building... and makes tens of thousands of dollars... "off the books"... in the dead of night?

The author includes his usual descriptions and directions... uptown and downtown of streets in New York... and what would be a Block book without a few descriptions of cab drivers? To be frank... there are a couple of times the dialogue goes a bit too deep into historical literature... but just like in his classic "Keller's Greatest Hits" series...
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I'm an avid reader and a long time Block fan. The Burglar series has been my favorite of all of his series. That said, this book is just not up to his usual standards. Long sections of minutia that did not advance the plot or add to the characters. Very boring. I've tried to read it several times and have given up - I forced myself to read it to the half way point. And really, if I had to force myself to read it, that says it all. If I could return it for a refund, I would.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This was my first Bernie Rhodenbarr novel and I found it quite enjoyable. Now I will have to look up some of the others and add them to my TBR pile. I'm sure I will get to them faster than other books there.

Bernie runs his book shop, has lunches with his best friend Carolyn, and apparently steal things on demand. A man who identifies himself as Smith has him steal an early draft of Fitzgerald's Benjamin Button story(with a different title) from a museum who didn't know what they had. Then he wants an Apostle spoon with an image of Button Gwinnett, the second signer of the Declaration of Independence.

At the same time, he;s helping his friend, sometimes adversary, Detective Ray Kirschsmann, investigate the death of an elderly woman under mysterious circumstances. It appears natural, but both men get a feeling that it's not.

Quite enjoyed the way author Lawrence Block set it all up and moved the action along until we reach the conclusion.
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