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The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #7)

The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #7)

4.4 7
by Lawrence Block

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Bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr's in love—with an exotic Eastern European beauty who shares his obsession with Humphrey Bogart movies. He's in heaven, munching popcorn with his new amour every night at a Bogart Film Festival—until their Casablanca-esque idyll is cut short by his other secret passion: burglary.

When he's hired to


Bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr's in love—with an exotic Eastern European beauty who shares his obsession with Humphrey Bogart movies. He's in heaven, munching popcorn with his new amour every night at a Bogart Film Festival—until their Casablanca-esque idyll is cut short by his other secret passion: burglary.

When he's hired to pilfer a portfolio of valuable documents from a Park Avenue apartment, Bernie can hardly refuse. But the occupant's early return forces Bernie to flee empty-handed—and he soon finds himself implicated in a murder. Before you can say "who stole the strawberries?" he's hunting for a killer, up to his neck in the outrageous intrigues of a tiny Balkan nation . . . and menaced by more sinister fat men and unsavory toadies than the great Bogie himself butted heads with in pursuit of that darn bird!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This time out, the recently revived Bernie Rhodenbarr, Greenwich Village bookseller and dedicated burglar, is swept away by a gorgeous foreigner who comes into his store one day. They share a passion for old Bogart movies and are soon spending successive nights sharing popcorn at a Bogart film festival. There is even more to Ilona than meets the eye, however, as Bernie finds out after he retrieves a portfolio from a locked apartment for another customer. Soon his client is dead, and so is one of the client's partners, and Bernie is up to his eyes in a bizarre mystery involving exiles from a never-never land in Central Europe, retired CIA men and what may (or may not) be a fortune in ancient bearer bonds. The tale goes down smoothly, much helped by the usual ditsy conversations with Bernie's lesbian best friend Carolyn and some neat use of famous Bogart dialogue. The only thing that keeps this from equaling last year's Ted Williams in the Burglar series is the slightly too fanciful and tangled plot. But even middling Rhodenbarr has entertainment value to burn. (June)
Bill Ott
"Justice gets served last, and usually winds up with leftovers." Yes, it's witty, but what really makes this line work is that the man speaking it, bookstore owner and master burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, finds not just irony but opportunity in its meaning. That's the thing about the Rhodenbarr mysteries: Bernie keeps you on your toes. He has a heart of gold, but he loves to steal, both for the thrill and the profit. Sentimental, yes, but selfish, too, thank God--sort of like Bogart, which leads us to the just-plain-fun plot of Bernie's latest caper. Out of all the bookstores in all the towns in all the world, this girl named Ilona happens to walk into Bernie's: they get to talking, she buys a book on Bogart, and before you can say, "Here's looking at you, kid," they've made a date to see two Bogey flicks at a New York film festival. After that, it gets complicated fast: they keep going to the Bogey festival every night; Bernie steals some documents; his sort-of-partner is killed; an enigmatic fat man appears, lusting after the documents; Ilona disappears, leaving Bernie holding the popcorn; and, inevitably, Ilona takes the midnight plane, dedicating her life to helping another man achieve an idealistic political dream, but not before Bernie has a chance to mutter, "We'll always have Twenty-fifth Street." What does it all mean? Not much, but if you're a film fan, who cares? It's funny, it's silly, it's stupendously clever, it's drop-dead romantic. Play it again, Bernie.
San Francisco Examiner
“Makes one want to rush to the bookstoer to get Block’s previous book, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Bernie Rhodenbarr Series , #7
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The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart

By Lawrence Block

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Lawrence Block
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060872799

Chapter One

At a quarter after ten on the last Wednesday in May, I put a beautiful woman in a taxi and watched her ride out of my life, or at least out of my neighborhood. Then I stepped off the curb and flagged a cab of my own.

Seventy-first and West End, I told the driver.

He was one of a vanishing breed, a crusty old bird with English for a native language. "That's five blocks, four up and one over. A beautiful night, a young fella like yourself, what are you doing in a cab?"

Trying to be on time, I thought. The two films had run a little longer than I'd figured, and I had to stop at my own apartment before I rushed off to someone else's.

"I've got a bum leg," I said. Don't ask me why.

"Yeah? What happened? Didn't get hit by a car, did you? All I can say is I hope it wasn't a cab, and if it was I hope it wasn't me."


"Go on, arthritis?" He craned his neck and looked at me. "You're too young for arthritis. That's for old farts, you go down to Florida and sit in the sun. Live in a trailer, play shuffleboard, vote Republican. A fellow your age, you tell me you broke your leg skiing, pulled a muscle running the marathon, that I can understand. But arthritis! Where do you get off having arthritis?"

"Seventy-first and West End," I said. "The northwest corner."

"I know where you getoff, as in get out of the cab, but why arthritis? You got it in your family?"

How had I gotten into this? "It's posttraumatic," I said. "I sustained injuries in a fall, and I've had arthritic complications ever since. It's usually not too bad, but sometimes it acts up."

"Terrible, at your age. What are you doing for it?"

"There's not too much I can do," I said. "According to my doctor."

"Doctors!" he cried, and spent the rest of the ride telling me what was wrong with the medical profession, which was almost everything. They didn't know anything, they didn't care about you, they caused more troubles than they cured, they charged the earth, and when you didn't get better they blamed you for it. "And after they blind you and cripple you, so that you got no choice but to sue them, where do you have to go? To a lawyer! And that's worse!"

That carried us clear to the northwest corner of Seventy-first and West End. I'd had it in mind to ask him to wait, since it wouldn't take me long upstairs and I'd need another cab across town, but I'd had enough of--I squinted at the license posted on the right-hand side of the dash--of Max Fiddler.

I paid the meter, added a buck for the tip, and, like a couple of smile buttons, Max and I told each other to have a nice evening. I thought of limping, for the sake of verisimilitude, and decided the hell with it. Then I hurried past my own doorman and into my lobby.

Upstairs in my apartment I did a quick change, shucking the khakis, the polo shirt, the inspirational athletic shoes (Just Do It!) and putting on a shirt and tie, gray slacks, crepe-soled black shoes, and a double-breasted blue blazer with an anchor embossed on each of its innumerable brass buttons. The buttons--there'd been matching cuff links, too, but I haven't seen them in years--were a gift from a woman I'd been keeping company with awhile back. She had met a guy and married him and moved to a suburb of Chicago, where the last I'd heard she was expecting their second child. My blazer had outlasted our relationship, and the buttons outlasted the blazer; when I replaced it I'd gotten a tailor to transfer the buttons. They'll probably survive this blazer, too, and may well be in fine shape when I'm gone, although that's something I try not to dwell on.

I got my attaché case from the front closet. In another closet, the one in the bedroom, there is a false compartment built into the rear wall. My apartment has been searched by professionals, and no one has yet found my little hidey-hole. Aside from me and the drug-crazed young carpenter who built it for me, only Carolyn Kaiser knows where it is and how to get into it. Otherwise, should I leave the country or the planet abruptly, whatever I have hidden away would probably remain there until the building comes down.

I pressed the two spots you have to press, then slid the panel you have to slide, and the compartment revealed its secrets. They weren't many. The space runs to about three cubic feet, so it's large enough to stow just about anything I steal until such time as I'm able to dispose of it. But I hadn't stolen anything in months, and what I'd last lifted had long since been distributed to a couple of chaps who'd had more use for it than I.

What can I say? I steal things. Cash, ideally, but that's harder and harder to find in this age of credit cards and twenty-four-hour automatic teller machines. There are still people who keep large quantities of real money around, but they typically keep other things on hand as well, such as wholesale quantities of illegal drugs, not to mention assault rifles and attack-trained pit bulls. They lead their lives and I lead mine, and if the twain never get around to meeting, that's fine with me.

The articles I take tend to be the proverbial good things that come in small packages. Jewelry, naturally. Objets d'art--jade carvings, pre-Columbian effigies, Lalique glass. Collectibles--stamps, coins, and once, in recent memory, baseball cards. Now and then a painting. Once--and never again, please God--a fur coat.


Excerpted from The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart by Lawrence Block Copyright © 2006 by Lawrence Block. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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 Who Thought He Was Bogart (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #7) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author shamelessly patterns the storyline with famous Bogart movie quips including the well-worn line, 'Of all the gin joints (bookstores) in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.' I loved it! Made me want to rush to the airport in my Ingrid Bergman hat and wave teary-eyed to every handsome man in a raincoat.
Tangen 11 months ago
Another fine mystery featuring compulsive burglar/bookshop owner Bernie Rhodenbarr. This time the key elements include a mysterious lady who shares evenings with him at an old movie theater showing a Bogart revival, a couple of dead bodies, some eccentric eastern Europeans, and a whole lot of situational and verbal humor. See publisher's blurb for hints, the clues are in the story. I really enjoy this series!
JCD2 More than 1 year ago
Another enjoyable Lawrence Block book with the lovable bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr.  In addition to being a tribute to Humphrey Bogart and his many movies it also had the old fashioned feel of Nero Wolfe in bringing the suspects together (in the bookstore).  This would have been a five star read except there were many characters with strange names.  I almost needed a scorecard to keep track.  But Bernie and Lawrence Block overcome all.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In this mystery, Bernie Rhodenbarr owns a bookstore, giving him a chance to drop author's names and quote from great books. That is fun but the most entertaining bit is when he gives little vignettes from all of Bogart's movies. In the audio book the narrator impersonates Bogie's voice and it is done very well. I like this the best of Rhodenbarr so far.