Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #6)

The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #6)

4.4 5
by Lawrence Block

See All Formats & Editions

Greenwich Village bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr is trying to make an honest living. But when the landlord raises his rent, what's left for a refined burglar to do? His first night on the job leads him to a pile of cash, a dead body, and a frameup--where Bernie is accused of stealing a million-dollar baseball card collection.


Greenwich Village bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr is trying to make an honest living. But when the landlord raises his rent, what's left for a refined burglar to do? His first night on the job leads him to a pile of cash, a dead body, and a frameup--where Bernie is accused of stealing a million-dollar baseball card collection.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Burglar/Greenwich Village bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr discovers a dead body in the apartment and is accused of stealing a $1 million baseball card collection. (June)
Library Journal
Rare books dealer-cum-thief Bernie Rhodenbarr decides to pull off one last job and ends up suspected of murder.
Bill Ott
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.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Bernie Rhodenbarr Series , #6
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams

By Lawrence Block

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Lawrence Block
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060731443

Chapter One

"Not a bad-looking Burglar," he said. "I don't suppose you'd happen to have a decent Alibi?"

I didn't hear the italics. They're present not to indicate vocal stress but to show that they were titles, or at least truncated titles. "A" Is for Alibi and "B" Is for Burglar, those were the books in question, and he had just laid a copy of the latter volume on the counter in front of me, which might have given me a clue. But it didn't, and I didn't hear the italics. What I heard was a stocky fellow with a gruff voice calling me a burglar, albeit a not-bad-looking one, and asking if I had an alibi, and I have to tell you it gave me a turn.

Because I am a burglar, although that's something I've tried to keep from getting around. I'm also a bookseller, in which capacity I was sitting on a stool behind the counter at Barnegat Books. In fact, I'd just about managed to forsake burglary entirely in favor of bookselling, having gone over a year without letting myself into a stranger's abode. Lately, though, I'd been feeling on the verge of what those earnest folk in twelve-step programs would very likely call a slip.

Less forgiving souls would call it a premeditated felony.

Whatever you called it, I was a little sensitive on the subject. I went all cold inside, and then my eyes dropped to the book, and light dawned. "Oh," I said. "Sue Grafton."

"Right. Have you got 'A' Is for Alibi?"

"I don't believe so. I had a copy of the book-club edition, but -- "

"I'm not interested in book-club editions."

"No. Well, even if you were, I couldn't sell it to you. I don't have it anymore. Someone bought it."

"Why would anyone buy the book-club edition?"

"Well, the print's a little larger than the paperback."


"Makes it easier to read."

The expression on his face told me what he thought of people who bought books for no better reason than to read them. He was in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with a suit and a tie and a full head of glossy brown hair. His mouth was full-lipped and pouty, and he'd have to lose a few pounds if he wanted a jawline.

"How much?" he demanded.

I checked the penciled price on the flyleaf. "Eighty dollars. With tax it comes to" -- a glance at the tax table -- "eighty-six sixty."

"I'll give you a check."

"All right."

"Or I could give you eighty dollars in cash," he said, "and we can just forget about the tax."

Sometimes this works. Truth to tell, there aren't many books on my shelves I can't be persuaded to discount by ten percent or so, even without the incentive of blindsiding the governor. But I told him a check would be fine, and to make it payable to Barnegat Books. When he was done scribbling I looked at the check and read the signature. Borden Stoppelgard, he had written, and that very name was imprinted at the top of his check, along with an address on East Thirty-seventh Street.

I looked at the signature and I looked at him. "I'll have to see some identification," I said.

Don't ask me why. I didn't really think there could be anything wrong with him or his check. The lads who write hot checks don't offer you cash in an attempt to avoid paying sales tax. I guess I just didn't like him, and I was trying to be a generic pain in the neck.

He gave me a look that suggested as much, then hauled out his wallet and came up with a credit card and driver's license. I verified his signature, jotted down his Amex number on the back of the check, then looked at the picture on the license. It was him, all right, if a touch less jowly. I read the name, Stoppelgard, Borden, and finally the penny dropped.

"Borden Stoppelgard," I said.

"That's right."

"Of Hearthstone Realty."

His expression turned guarded. It hadn't been all that open in the first place, but now it was a fortress, and he was busy digging a moat around it.

"You're my landlord," I said. "You just bought this building."

"I own a lot of buildings," he said. "I buy them, I sell them."

"You bought this one, and now you're looking to raise my rent."

"You can hardly deny that it's ridiculously low."

"It's eight seventy-five a month," I said. "The lease is up the first of the year, and you're offering me a new lease at ten thousand five hundred dollars a month."

"I imagine that strikes you as high."

"High?" I said. "What makes you say that?"

"Because I can assure you -- "

"Try stratospheric," I suggested.

" -- that it's very much in line with the market."

"All I know," I said, "is that it's completely out of the question. You want me to pay more each month than I've been paying for an entire year. That's an increase of what, twelve hundred percent? Ten-five a month is more than I gross, for God's sake."

He shrugged. "I guess you'll have to move."

"I don't want to move," I said. "I love this store. I bought it from Mr. Litzauer when he decided to retire to Florida, and I want to go on owning it until I retire, and -- "

"Perhaps you should start thinking early retirement."

I looked at him.

"Face it," he said. "I'm not raising the rent because I'm out to get you. Believe me, it's nothing personal. Your rent's been a steal since before you even bought the store. Some idiot gave your buddy Litzauer a thirty-year lease, and the escalators in it didn't begin to keep pace with the realities of commercial real estate in an inflationary economy. Once I get you out of here I'll rip out all that shelving and rent the place to a Thai restaurant or a Korean greengrocer, and do you know what kind of rent I'll get for a nice big space like this? Forget ten-five. Try fifteen a month, fifteen thousand dollars, and the tenant'll be glad to pay it."


Excerpted from The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams by Lawrence Block Copyright © 2005 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.

What People are Saying About This

Ed McBain
There is only one word to describe Lawrence Block's new Rhodenbarr novel: lovely! charming! fast! funny! terrific! --Ed McBain

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series #6) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Tangen 11 months ago
bad puns, Bernie Rhodenbarr, snarky, amateur sleuth, murder, NYC, law enforcement I laughed myself silly over the mangling of Sue Grafton titles! Bernie really tried not to go back to burglary, but it happened anyway. And I got to learn more about used book pricing and the insane prices of some vintage baseball cards. The publisher's blurb gives hints and there is no need for spoilers, just enjoy the unraveling of the mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been rereading all the "Burglar" book in order, and got to "Ted Williams" and realised I had never read it in the first place. This was probably because I'm not much of a sports fan. I should have known better as Block turns a nice twisty tale around some missing baseball cards, although you don't have to deal much with baseball in this story. It is up to his usual standards, and i certainly recommend adding it to your reading list for an afternoon of fun.
Big_Dan_in_Dallas More than 1 year ago
This was the first Lawrence Block book I ever read. After reading it, I fell in love with the characters and with Block's writing. I went back and read the previous books, loving them just as much, and have purchased and read each subsequent book. These are light, breezy reads but are very entertaining just the same. There are many worse ways to spend your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago