Thursday 22 September 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Bernie Rhodenbarr - By day he sells books in his Greenwich Village store - by night he's a master of illegal entry. But this time Bernie didn't do the burglary ... but one missing painting worth a cool quarter of a million dollars, two corpses and a very clever frame up put him on top of the most wanted list!

Another caper in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series and this time it concerns a painting. There's the usual cast of characters in addition to Bernie himself; we have Carolyn and the inevitable appearance of Ray, the purchasable cop. This time his lawyer, Wally makes more than a fleeting appearance and Bernie gets to consult with him, usually when jogging - something which Bernie tries to avoid. Par for the course there's also a body or two.

I think I'm running out of things to say about the series. 
Repetition, repetition, repetition. That's me, not the books, though there is a kind of formula to the plots. 

Bernie gets wind of or is hired to steal something. He gets his hands on the goods or he doesn't, or when he does they get reappropriated from him very quickly. Either way there's a dead body and Bernie half in the frame for the murder and having to solve the crime himself, to escape the clutches of the law. It's usually achieved with the connivance and the greasing of our aforementioned cop's palm. 

And do you know what? I don't actually care. 
I enjoy Block's writing ...... his characters, his wit, his New York of the 70s, 80s and 90s as I run through the series.... the bars, the subway journeys, the cab rides and the chats with the drivers and the regularity with which the same driver seems to keep appearing whenever Bernie needs a cab, the coffee shops, the customers in the book shop, the lunches with Carolyn, the trysts with various women that flit in and out of his life, never lingering too long, the games with the shop cat Raffles, the mentions of books and authors that he or Carolyn might be reading, or that he might have sold to a customer.

I like the mechanics of Bernie's illegal profession - the different locks, the different techniques he uses and the methods and routines he undertakes, pre-burglary and during the commission of his crimes. I enjoy his furtiveness and his cunning and also his aversion to violence. For a bad guy, he's a good guy.

Another solid series entry and like the previous ones - 4 stars from 5

Previously enjoyed...

Read - August, 2022
Published - 1983
Page count - 320
Source - owned copy
Format - Paperback


  1. I know what you mean, Col. Sometimes a series does have a certain pattern or formula, etc.. But that pattern works so well that it doesn't matter. Like you, I enjoy Block's wit and Bernie's (and Carolyn's) character. The stories are engaging, too, so it's easy to forgive that sense that other books in the series are similar.

    1. Margot, I probably wouldn't have noticed it so much if I had read them a bit further apart, but I'm kind of on a mission. And it's not a criticism as such, they still sparkle and entertain and satisfy even when you kind of know what the ride is going to be like.

  2. You are posting like crazy, and also reading Block like crazy! Admirable. I think you sum up the appeal of this series very well - I haven't read this one, but feel I can happily read more of them. Always grateful for your encouragement to Read More Block.

    1. Moira, you could do a lot worse than read Block! I'm sorry I didn't read this series sooner.

  3. Read this one a while ago. The Bernie books are always enjoyable.