From Publishers Weekly
This time out, the recently revived Bernie Rhodenbarr, Greenwich Village bookseller and dedicated burglar, is swept away by a gorgeous foreigner who comes into his store one day. They share a passion for old Bogart movies and are soon spending successive nights sharing popcorn at a Bogart film festival. There is even more to Ilona than meets the eye, however, as Bernie finds out after he retrieves a portfolio from a locked apartment for another customer. Soon his client is dead, and so is one of the client's partners, and Bernie is up to his eyes in a bizarre mystery involving exiles from a never-never land in Central Europe, retired CIA men and what may (or may not) be a fortune in ancient bearer bonds. The tale goes down smoothly, much helped by the usual ditsy conversations with Bernie's lesbian best friend Carolyn and some neat use of famous Bogart dialogue. The only thing that keeps this from equaling last year's Ted Williams in the Burglar series is the slightly too fanciful and tangled plot. But even middling Rhodenbarr has entertainment value to burn.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Justice gets served last, and usually winds up with leftovers." Yes, it's witty, but what really makes this line work is that the man speaking it, bookstore owner and master burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, finds not just irony but opportunity in its meaning. That's the thing about the Rhodenbarr mysteries: Bernie keeps you on your toes. He has a heart of gold, but he loves to steal, both for the thrill and the profit. Sentimental, yes, but selfish, too, thank God--sort of like Bogart, which leads us to the just-plain-fun plot of Bernie's latest caper. Out of all the bookstores in all the towns in all the world, this girl named Ilona happens to walk into Bernie's: they get to talking, she buys a book on Bogart, and before you can say, "Here's looking at you, kid," they've made a date to see two Bogey flicks at a New York film festival. After that, it gets complicated fast: they keep going to the Bogey festival every night; Bernie steals some documents; his sort-of-partner is killed; an enigmatic fat man appears, lusting after the documents; Ilona disappears, leaving Bernie holding the popcorn; and, inevitably, Ilona takes the midnight plane, dedicating her life to helping another man achieve an idealistic political dream, but not before Bernie has a chance to mutter, "We'll always have Twenty-fifth Street." What does it all mean? Not much, but if you're a film fan, who cares? It's funny, it's silly, it's stupendously clever, it's drop-dead romantic. Play it again, Bernie. Bill Ott