Over the last decade, as Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder has become one of the most popular characters in crime fiction, poor Bernie Rhodenbarr, Block's other series hero, has languished on the shelf. Bernie, the nimble-fingered burglar who solves murders in between heists, has his own fans, though, and they have been badgering Block for the last decade to write another book about their hero. Well, Block finally obliged, and it's about time. This novel is an absolute treat--the funniest, cleverest, in-jokiest lark of a mystery since, well . . . the last Bernie book 10 years ago. In the meantime, the amiably larcenous Bernie has been trying his best to reform, living the quiet life of a Greenwich Village bookseller. But now his new landlord has jacked up the rent, and Bernie, hoping to avoid eviction, figures one more burglary might just do the trick. Opportunity comes knocking, and Bernie walks in, after picking the lock, of course; it looks like a piece of cake until he finds a dead body in the bathroom. Meanwhile, across town, somebody is stealing a baseball-card collection worth a cool million, and the cops are convinced it was Bernie. His alibi--that he was breaking into a different apartment at the time (and finding a stiff)--is problematic. Best to find the ball cards and set matters right. Along the way, we're treated to a nonstop barrage of one-liners, literary puns (like the character who suffers from Edna St. Vincent Malaise--poetic depression in women), and hilarious jibes at fellow mystery writer Sue Grafton (author of, we're told, "F Is for Stop" and "G Is for Spot", among others). The plot gets a little crazy, but who cares when you're having fun? Please, Bernie, don't make us wait another decade between capers.