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'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.