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Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Block
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a personable chap, a good neighbor, a passable poker player. His chosen profession, however, might not sit well with some. Bernie is a burglar, a good one, effortlessly lifting valuables from the not-so-well-protected abodes of well-to-do New Yorkers like a modern-day Robin Hood. (The poor, as Bernie would be the first to tell you, alas, have nothing worth stealing.)

He's not perfect, however; he occasionally makes mistakes. Like accepting a paid assignment from a total stranger to retrieve a particular item from a rich man's apartment. Like still being there when the cops arrive. Like having a freshly slain corpse lying in the next room, and no proof that Bernie isn't the killer.

Now he's really got his hands full, having to locate the true perpetrator while somehow eluding the police -- a dirty job indeed, but if Bernie doesn't do it, who will?

Editorial Reviews Review

The latest in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series by multiple-award winner Block has Bernie underestimating the difficulty of breaking into a posh East Side apartment to steal a blue leather-covered box. No box, dead body, bum murder rap. Not so easy. The New York Times Book Review has called the Rhodenbarr books, "A witty series. Bernie is incorrigibly adorable. Between his inquiring mind and his sticky fingers, Bernie is the ideal sleuth."


Bernie is a burglar who likes to work alone, facing a work-for-hire job which involves stealing a mysterious box and delivering it. The simple operation turns complicated when the box vanishes and his capers attract the police. Fans of Block’s prior burglar titles will find this engrossing. -- Midwest Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 675 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1PJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,562 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start To An Intriguing Series July 28, 2001
Format:Audio Cassette
This is an intriguing concept that I've only just stumbled across: A protagonist of a mystery book who's a professional burglar. Bernie Rhodenbarr is hard at work one night knocking over a house in which, he's assured, he'll find a leather-bound box. Problem 1, the box isn't there. Problem 2, the police catch him in the act. Problem 3, there's a dead body in the house, which is found by the police. Was he set up or was his luck just really bad on this job? In order to prove his innocence Bernie has to find out who committed the murder while staying ahead of the law.
This is a great idea for a different slant on mystery protagonists. It's not every story that you find yourself on the side of the burglar, so I found this book very refreshing indeed. Bernie commits crimes as a living does essentially a reprehensible job, but you can't help but like the guy. And as an investigator he's not too bad either. This is a very good mystery that has certainly prompted me to read other books in the series.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Satirical Look at Cops and Robbers May 1, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores out 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 arranges to evade 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. Burglars Can't Be Choosers is the first book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading this one. 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.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie R. Hadn't Jelled Yet October 7, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was Lawrence Block's first Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery. Originally published in 1977 it features Block's humor, but it's missing his nifty plotting and three-dimensional women characters. It features yet another example of Block's obsession with lesbians (someone could write a dissertation thesis on this), but this time it seems gratuitious and exploitive. Read this one for background, but there are much better books in the series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it! The book you'd not regret buying! June 7, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Maybe it is an exaggeration, but I believe that Lawrence Block and his debut series Burglars Can't Be Choosers is power packed with lots of wit, lots of plot and dialogue, and interlaced with the kind of interesting material you want to curl up in bed and read by your bedlight. This is such a good book that people seeking to improve their standard of English should look here! The pace is fast and furious, and by reading it, you really feel like you're instantly transported to living, breathing New York City!
Buy the rest too. All nine Bernie Rhodenbarr series (including the newly-released Burglar in Library novel). Lawrence Block is at his greatest and most humorous here. You'll not regret it. Makes for a perfect companion gift too!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat promising start to a series December 20, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
3.5 stars out of 5.0

The first book in Lawrence Block's Burglar series is actually the second one I read. I picked up the Burglar in the Closet, the next book, thinking it was the first, and was a little ways in before I realized my mistake. But that book was good enough that I wanted to come back and read the original book that introduces Bernie Rhodenbarr.

This book has the same lighthearted attitude. It definitely doesn't take itself too seriously which is probably a good thing since the hero is a "bad guy" in most people's eyes. The mystery isn't your typical detective style. Rather, it is a mystery that must be solved to get Bernie out of the hot water that he shouldn't be in. Well, mostly shouldn't be in. He is still a thief.

Block does nice job of introducing and developing characters. Nothing seems too cliché, which is refreshing. And for the most part, the story is plausible. Where it lost me a bit is at the end when explanations are given. The coincidences are too, um, coincidental. As Block rounded out the novel, I felt as though some things were too much of a stretch and this lessened the surprise. He redeemed himself a bit as the explanation expanded but it was still a bit of a letdown compared with how the book had been going.

Overall, a very good, easy read. Eventually, I'll pick up the third book to read and see if I want to keep going.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
will read the rest in series
Published 4 days ago by Marty Reynoso
5.0 out of 5 stars Another funny Burglar book!
All the books in this series are terrific! The character has a great sense of humor and the plots are always amusing.
Published 1 month ago by Linda E.
4.0 out of 5 stars New To Lawrence Block
Enjoyed the first of the Bernie Rhodenbarr series. The gentleman burglar intrigued me. Thought character development was interesting. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Susan R. McIntyre
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Might Be A Witty, Humorous Guy, But He Is A Burglar
“Burglars Can’t Be Choosers,” first published in 1977, was the first of eleven “burglar” books published over the next two and a half decades. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dave Wilde
3.0 out of 5 stars Using a criminal as detective is a nice twist
A decent mystery, though there are a few things that don't make sense - I won't mention what as it will give away how the mystery gets solved. Read more
Published 5 months ago by DC
4.0 out of 5 stars Posting the same review, each book in the series. Bernie and friends...
I've read Lawrence Block for many years and the Bernie Rhodenbar series (The Burglar Who ...) is by far my favorite, especially as the series has matured - BR acquired the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Van Gogh
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed by this book
I was disappointed by this book, but I'm not deterred from reading further works from Lawrence Block. I recently saw the movie A Walk Amongs the Tombstones and loved it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Roger Nokes
5.0 out of 5 stars I am only robbing the place office I have nothing to do with the...
I was fortunate to discover this series and start from the beginning, The main character is an unlikely hero as he is a professional cat burglar or as one of the characters calls... Read more
Published 7 months ago by themadlibrarian
5.0 out of 5 stars The Burglar A Nice Departure From More Serious Matthew Scudder
Great story,great authot,great characters
Published 7 months ago by Ellen
3.0 out of 5 stars well, expected something much more entertaining... ...
well, expected something much more entertaining ... ok but I had just read J Michael Orenduffs books (Pot Thief) and a review said they reminded them of these B Rhodenbarr books. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Curtis Lyon
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Lawrence Block
Hi Pauly. Well all reading are personal choices. But I recommend the series to anyone who enjoys light, comic, mysteries. Block is a fine writer and he's pretty funny too. Some people can't get past the main character being a thief but I don't dwell on that (besides he's often stealing from... Read More
Jul 15, 2009 by Amazon Customer |  See all 2 posts
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