Book Review: The Burglar in the Library by Lawrence Block

the burglar in the library #block
Bookseller and New-Yorker-to-the-bone, Bernie Rhodenbarr rarely ventures out of Manhattan, but he’s excited about the romantic getaway he has planned for himself and current lady love Lettice at the Cuttleford House, a remote upstate b&b. Unfortunately, Lettice has a prior engagement—she’s getting married . . . and not to Bernie—so he decides to take best buddy Carolyn instead. A restful respite from the big city’s bustle would be too good to waste. Besides, there’s a very valuable first edition shelved in the Cuttleford’s library that Bernie’s just itching to get his hands on. Did we neglect to mention that Bernie’s a burglar?

But first he’s got to get around a very dead body on the library floor. The plot’s thickened by an isolating snowstorm, downed phone lines, the surprise arrival of Lettice and her reprehensible new hubby, and a steadily increasing corpse count. And it’s Bernie who’ll have to figure out whodunit . . . or die

After his girlfriend announces she’s getting married to another man, Bernie takes off to an English Style country house with Carolyn to lick his wounds in searching for a Raymond Chandler book rumoured to be personally inscribed to Dashell Hammett.

It’s the winter, in the middle of nowhere, and the snow is coming in thick and fast. The last thing anyone needs is to realise they are trapped with no chance of escape with a killer on the loose.

Medium length book (most of Block’s books come in at under 300 pages, this is just over), and it has all the usual witty conversations and one liners between Bernie and Carolyn. Some of the secondary characters were not particularly 3 Dimensional – only one of the murder victims actually got to say anything, but do you really ever talk to everyone when on holiday?

There is a precocious child, and I have a vague feeling that this has been used before as a technique in a previous book, but I could be mistaken.

Anyway, once again, a Rhoddenbarr book that I enjoyed. I know others who have not read a Block/Rhoddenbarr book before reading this one, and found it to be by the numbers and a little predictable – which it can be to the outsider.

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