The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #9)

The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #9)

4.3 6
by Lawrence Block

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Gulliver Fairborn's novel, Nobody's Baby, changed Bernie Rhodenbarr's life. And now pretty Alice Cottrell, Fairborn's one-time paramour, wants the bookselling, book-loving burglar to break into a room in New York's teeth-achingly charming Paddington Hotel and purloin some of the writer's very personal letters before an unscrupulous agent can sell them.


Gulliver Fairborn's novel, Nobody's Baby, changed Bernie Rhodenbarr's life. And now pretty Alice Cottrell, Fairborn's one-time paramour, wants the bookselling, book-loving burglar to break into a room in New York's teeth-achingly charming Paddington Hotel and purloin some of the writer's very personal letters before an unscrupulous agent can sell them. Here's an opportunity to use his unique talents in the service of the revered, famously reclusive author. But when Bernie gets there, the agent is dead . . . and Bernie's wanted for murder. (He really hates when that happens!)

Perhaps it's karmic payback; Bernie did help himself to a ruby necklace on his way out. (But it was lying there. And he is a burglar.) Now he's in even hotter water. And he'll need to use every trick in the book—maybe going so far as to entice the hermitic Fairborn himself out of seclusion—to bring this increasingly twisted plot to a satisfying denouement.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
July 1999

So this time Bernie's trying to steal the highly personal letters of an author before the author's agent can publish them.

Are you listening, Joyce "Just Putting My Kids Through College" Maynard?

If J. D. Salinger reads this novel, he's going to be one happy dude. Because he'll say, See what happens to people who sell the love letters of people they once knew intimately?

While The Burglar in the Rye isn't the exact equivalent of Joyce Maynard selling J. D. Salinger's letters at auction, it's close enough. Too bad ole J. D. doesn't know Bernie's phone number. He's in the book, J. D. Just look him up.

Anyway, in this here particular installment of the Bernie saga, author wants letters back, Bernie goes to offending party's office and finds offending party dead. I wonder if Block had any particular agent in mind when he killed this one off.

So Bernie has to solve a murder. And in the meantime meets all the strange and wonderful people only Bernie seems to meet while solving a murder. Most of them are funny; a few are sad-funny. Block gives even the walk-ons real lives. It's one of the things that makes him major.

This one seems more Nero Wolfe-ian than ever. It's a true head-scratching whodunit, with Block pulling more bamboozles and switchbacks and Mexican hat tricks than ever. It's one of the things that makes him so entertaining.

We have Carolyn, his gay friend, and even more important, we have Bernie's singularly oddball take on the city. A burglar looks at a city in a different way from the rest of us. Hiding places. Sumptuouslytemptingplaces to burgle. The weirdo you turn to while on the run from the city's finest. Block has a great and idiosyncratic take on the city. It's one of the things that makes him enduring.

I first read Bernie Rhodenbarr 20 years ago, and I'm not sick of him yet. I doubt I ever will get sick of him. Block seems to be at the pinnacle of his creative powers. And Bernie just keeps getting funnier and funnier and funnier.

—Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman's latest novels include Daughter of Darkness, Harlot's Moon, and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. Gorman is also the editor of Mystery Scene magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.

Marilyn Stasio
...[A]mystery stuffed to the eyeballs with endearing oddballs....By the time this amiably amoral hero assembles all the interested parties for his droll summation (''I suppose you're wondering why I summoned you all here''), he has earned his teddy bear.
The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Block's addictive series about bookseller/burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, etc.) continues as our hero invades the hotel suite of an aged literary agent in search of a cache of letters, by a respected and reclusive writer, that are wanted by people both legitimate and not. As he usually does, Bernie finds a corpse on the other side of the locked door he so neatly opens, and he is immediately suspected of murder by his nemesis, sticky-fingered Ray Kirschmann of the NYPD. More murder ensues before Bernie, with the help of his lesbian buddy Carolyn, can get a handle on the proceedings. But when he does, and has gathered all the principals into a room for the inevitable explanatory/accusatory windup ("I suppose you're wondering why I summoned you all here," he gets to say, to his and the reader's delight, time and again), he hits on a solution that fingers a most unlikely suspect, satisfies all the claimants to the letters and leaves him (and Ray) richer. Block's effortless mastery of his material, his relaxed ease, are as pleasurable as always, and he has some splendid fun with an author not unlike J.D. Salinger. This is the prolific Block's only new novel of the year, and it's a steal at any price. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
After all the reissues, here's something that's actually billed as "a new Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery." When Bernie is asked to locate a reclusive author's missing letters, he runs into murder.
Bob Smith
This is one great book- intriguing, delightful, suspenseful, laugh-out-loud wonderful.
The Mystery Review
Kirkus Reviews
If you catch the allusion in Block's title, you're in just the right mood for Bernie Rhodenbarr's ninth spot of burglary-cum-detection. Alice Cottrell, a former teen prodigy who spent three of her Wonder years with Gulliver Fairborn, the famously reclusive American writer whose first novel changed the life of every teenager who read it, has hired Bernie to steal Gully's letters to Anthea Landau—the ex-agent who's about to put them up for auction even though Gully copyrighted them—so that Alice can protect her old mentor by destroying them. Bernie checks into Anthea's hotel (the seedy, genteel, splendidly evoked Paddington) breaks sedately into her room, and begins his search for the letters. But he has to leave half a step ahead of the law when he realizes that the reason Anthea isn't listening to his burglarious noises is that she's dead and the cops are knocking. Except for the corpse, this may sound as familiar as last week's literary gossip, but when Bernie stops to purloin a ruby necklace from another Paddington guestroom he passes through during his escape, he opens a whole new can of worms and unleashes a comic nightmare of collectors, scholars, spurned lovers, and garden-variety thieves. The shaggy mystery, which requires an even more hyperextended finale than The Burglar in the Library (1997), manages to honor most of the conventions of the formal detective story even while sending them all giddily up. And if Bernie Rhodenbarr weren't already irresistible, the Salinger/Maynard tie-in would hook the stragglers.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Bernie Rhodenbarr Series, #9
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Burglar in the Rye

Chapter One

The lobby was a bit the worse for wear. The large oriental carpet had seen better days, lots of them. The facing Lawson sofas sagged invitingly and, like the rest of the furniture, showed the effects of long use. They were in use now; two women sat in animated conversation, and, a few yards away, a man with a long oval face and a high forehead sat reading a copy of GQ. He wore sunglasses, which made him look dapper and sly. I don't know how they made the magazine look. Dark, I suppose.

While the lobby may have been the least bit down at the heels, the overall impression was not so much of shabbiness as of comfort. The glow of a fire in the fireplace, a welcome sight on a brisk October day, put everything in the best possible light. And, centered above the fireplace mantel, painted with such . . .

The Burglar in the Rye. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

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The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #9) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the author keeps fans guessing to the end with his rollicking Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. Mr.Block has a wonderful writing talent and his characters are compelling. I recommend this and all of his books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what it is, but I love the way this guy writes. I love the dialogue, the descriptions and the characters. This book is not about any great crime or mystery (there is a crime, in fact more than one), but the characters, conversations and the banter are far more interesting. I suppose it's not really fair to the author to describe the book this way. I can't help it. I loved the inter-play between the characters
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