Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Burglar in the Rye" by Lawrence Block (audio)

Referring back a few posts, there are a number of book series that I read, no matter what. The "Burglar" series, featuring the bookstore-owner-by-day-and-cat-burlgar-by-night Bernie Rohdenbarr, is a great one. Slightly less goofy than Stephanie Plum, but whimsical and lovable nevertheless, these books are a great pick-me-up when things are getting too serious. Amazingly, Lawrence Block not only writes this successful series, but two others as well, each with a different feel, but equally as good. I have not read all of the Burglar installments yet, but saving them like yummy little nuggets of indulgence when I need them.

In this book, the ninth of the series, a beautiful woman, Alice Cottrell, wanders into Bernie's bookstore with an intriguing story. When she was 14 (I kid you not), she had an affair with the famous reclusive writer Gulliver Fairborn, whose face and wherabouts are a mystery to all. The only proof of the author's existence are the letters of correspondence to his agent, and a published book now and again. Alice is distressed because his agent has been threatening to sell the letters to the highest bidder, and wants Bernie's help to "retrieve" them for her erstwhile but still beloved boyfriend. This is all Bernie needs to set him off on a mission, as this is truly what Bernie is famous for...burgling from those who deserve to be burgled.

Anyway, I won't go into too many more details, but suffice it to say that, as usual, it becomes complicated. There are murders, rubies stolen twice over, obsessive collectors, a policeman on the take, an author in disguise, a jilted and homicidal lesbian, Paddington bears, persuasive sex, and a bookstore cat that uses the toilet. And then, towards the end, we have the classic Bernie move. Let's call it a "come to Jesus" meeting with everyone that has a finger in the pie. These scenes are great, and are my favorite part of the books. Cards are thrown on the table and usually all kinds of hell breaks loose. The worst offenders are usually cuffed and carted out. The lesser offenders usually subtly receive their cosmic due from Bernie. In the end he always tries to do the right thing, for a burglar at least.


Beth F said...

Thanks for this review -- I have the first two of this series on audio. I really must get to them.

Thanks for stopping by. We're wine freaks too, but we're still learning.

Love your blog. Looks like we have similar tastes in books, and I do audio too!

I'll be back to explore some more.

Sandy Nawrot said...

This series is definitely good for a few laughs, which I need now and again! I did notice you read audio, which I think is a great way to do running around and still "read". Thanks for stopping by!

Literary Feline said...

My husband has recently discovered Lawrence Block and really likes him. I may have to give him a try too!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've only experienced Bernie via audio, and the reader is hilarious. I expect Block's voice carries through in written form as well. The other Lawrence Block series that I have read revolves around an ex-cop named Matthew Scudder. It is quite a bit darker than the Bernie series, but is really really good.