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Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #1)
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Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  4,083 Ratings  ·  303 Reviews
Bernie Rhodenbarr is a personable chap, a good neighbor, a passable poker player. His chosen profession, however, might not sit well with some. Bernie is a burglar, a good one, effortlessly lifting valuables from the not-so-well-protected abodes of well-to-do New Yorkers like a modern-day Robin Hood. (The poor, as Bernie would be the first to tell you, alas, have nothing w ...more
Paperback, 293 pages
Published February 24th 2004 by HarperTorch (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

“Imaginative persons could probably find interesting things to do with handcuffs and a nightstick.”

Cozies are fun, but every genre needs variety to stay interesting for the reader. The same old can get ... well, old after awhile. This book delivers that twist by having the main character be an unapologetic cat burglar who opens the book breaking into an apartment, enjoying it, and then getting caught up in a far worse crime.

It may be morally wrong, but the quirk works, especially since Bernie
Mar 20, 2013 Greg rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I almost gave this two stars. But it wasn't bad like most of the books I give two stars. It just wasn't a very good Lawrence Block book.

I can easily imagine, and I'm sure I've really enjoyed some books in this genre. But my last two forays into it have been less than satisfying, and both times by writers that I expect a whole lot of satisfaction from.

I guess I should say what the genre is. An 'innocent' man is wrongly suspected of a crime and he has to remedy the situation. Or maybe the sub-ge
Professional burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr gets hired to steal a blue box from an apartment, but the police bust in and catch him just after he breaks in. The good news is that one of the cops is crooked, and it looks like he’ll be able to buy his way out of the arrest. The bad news is that the cops find the apartment owner’s body in the bedroom so the bribing option just went bye-bye. Bernie flees and manages to hide out in the apartment of a friend he knows is out of town, but he’s a wanted man wi ...more
Sep 28, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whodunnit, funny
Block's dialogue crackles like an overheard conversation in a New York bar in this lighthearted debut outing for gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr.

Lawrence Block has been a revelation to me this year, his work have been some of the highlights of my reading experience in 2012 but nothing prepared me for Bernie Rhodenbarr. I've become accustomed to the darker side of Block through Matt Scudder and the incredibly bleak Grifter's Game but Bernie lets his lighter side shine, always ready with a wit
Lance Charnes
May 30, 2015 Lance Charnes rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of near-cozy mysteries with reprobate heroes
Readers wanting to follow the exploits of a bad-boy lead character usually have to choose between hit men, fixers, or other hard cases who generally seek to solve problems through the application of force. Back in the late 1970s, however, Lawrence Block introduced a less-bad bad boy: gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, who debuted in this novel just a year after Block's other best-known series character, alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder.

In this story, Bernie accepts a job burgling an Upper East
Arun Divakar
Dec 30, 2012 Arun Divakar rated it liked it
There are many a variant of detective fiction that any bibliophile will come across in their journeys across the landscapes of mystery and thrills. There is the much adored closed room mystery of the Brits, the police procedural of the Americans, the haunted detective of the...of the...hmm...of the somewhere ! and so on and so forth. Some of the ones that I have read have tended to put me off reading these genre for repeated use makes them stale. I think there are some which tend to dilute the c ...more
Dan Schwent
Bernie Rhodenbarr breaks into an apartment while the owner is out to steal a blue leather box and make a quick five large. Only the apartment owner is home and quite dead, and the cops burst in while Bernie is there. Bernie goes on the run and sets out to clear his name with the help of an oddly helpful girl named Ruth. Can Bernie clear his name before he is apprehended for murder?

Lawrence Block put together an interesting mystery in this one, one involving actors, actresses, blackmail, and dirt
Andrew Smith
Jun 11, 2012 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the series, but it's the last book I've read; I seem to have read the whole series in a totally random order. There are, I think, ten books in all, plus a few short stories. They all have basically the same plot. Boring? No, far from it. I love the characters in this series, it's light and funny and in Bernie Rhodenbarr I think he's created one of the very best. About time for an addition to the series I think, LB.
Block has a very low-key voice in his books & this audio was well done by Adams Morgan - the voice fits Bernie Rhodenbarr perfectly. Bernie is a nice guy who is just trying to get by in NYC like everyone else. His profession is as a burglar & he's a pretty good one, well liked by his neighbors ("Who cares if you take from the rich east side? You don't steal around here.") & the cops, who know he is reasonable about splitting profits.

He has a good thing going until his job is connect
Richard White
Call me crazy but I've decided to re-read the entire burglar series. Started this one at 9:00 A.M. this morning, finished at 4:00 P.M. this afternoon. Trust me, Block is that good. If you read my profile I make no apologies for promoting Lawrence Block. If you haven't read him yet you really should.
Mar 25, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Bernie Rhodenbarr, a dapper and skilled burglar with a taste for fine things and no propensity for violence, is found by the police in a Manhattan apartment which is not his own, with the legal occupant in the next room bludgeoned to death. He flees the scene and hides out in a friend’s building, where he meets a suspiciously helpful girl who urges him to find the real killer. Tracking down the man who apparently framed him, Bernie gets caught up in a scheme involving blackmail, kinky sex, and l ...more
May 01, 2012 Eric rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hardcore Lawrence Block fans
I'm glad I read Block's Burglar in the Library, an adventure of Bernie Rhodenbarr's that happens later in the series, first. If I had read this book, which is the first in the series, first, I likely never would have picked up any others in it. So now I'm torn, because this book was okay at best, but I really liked the later other one. Guess I'll have to read the second in the series and see if it is the more refined Rhodenbarr that I met later in the series, instead of this rough-around-the-edg ...more
Mar 13, 2017 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the set up for this novel, which introduces us to Bernie Rhodenbarr, a mild-mannered burglar minding his own business (generally speaking) in NYC. Bernie is another bad-guy protagonist created by Lawrence Block, who seems to have a knack for generating likable lead character criminals. In this debut, Bernie goes against his instincts and takes on a contract burglary; he's paid $5,000 by a stranger (who happens to know his profession) to steal a blue velvet box (contents unknown) from a r ...more
Olga Godim
Apr 05, 2013 Olga Godim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Bernie is a burglar, and he doesn’t hide the fact, although he doesn’t advertise it either. In this novel, he tells his story with close attention to details, dry humor, and panache worthy of the best of mystery writers.
Usually, Bernie works alone, but this time he took a job offered by a vaguely menacing, pear-shaped stranger. Stealing a blue box out of an empty apartment for 5K seemed like easy money, especially for an experienced thief, but when Bernie gets into the apartment, all his plans
Mar 18, 2012 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I heard Lawrence Block's book on writing, Telling Lies For Fun and Profit was good (it is) and picked it up and started reading. Almost at the same time, my school library had withdrawn THREE of the Bernie Rhodenbarr books so I thought, why not read some of the fiction written by this man? And I have.

This is Bernie #1 (a nice place to start, though the others I have are #3 and #5) and we are introduced to the nice, young man as he is in the process of robbing someone. Of course the police int
Nov 01, 2015 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2015
Sometimes some lightweight reading is required and Block's pleasant and personable gentleman thief seemed like just the right guy for the job. Some snappy clever lines doesn't really make up for the sheer weight of all the interminable exposition. What action there is takes place in various apartments and doesn't quite take me away to a more exciting life, as I sit alone in a similar apartment endeavouring to entertain myself without resorting to alphabetizing my tinned soup.
Apr 09, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
A 3 Star quickie, throwback to the '70's when you needed a phone book to find out how to call someone. Bernie is a "professional" burglar and takes pride in it. No violence, only hit up the folks who can afford to lose. Much fun, some good twists and some clean, off the stage sex. You know, back when romantic trysts were hinted at, had to use your imagination, no full frontal exposure! Take a few hours off and pick this one up.
Feb 04, 2017 William rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leon Aldrich
I won't know how much I like this series from Block until I read second one or possibly third in this group.

Maybe because its more mystery than thriller? I lean towards the faster paced, edgy fiction. And this one was a slow boil to a delightful ending.
Maureen DeLuca
Feb 13, 2016 Maureen DeLuca rated it really liked it
This is the first in the 'Bernie' Rhodenbarr series and I really liked it. From 1977 - so reading it- it is a 'tad' bit outdated... so I am sure most of you has read this book and/or the full series! Either way- I am reading the series, (in order) and loving it !
May 31, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, crime
A clever story that manages to create a lot of twists with a small cast. Rhodenbarr himself isn't as engaging as either Scudder or Keller, so far, but I enjoyed this enough to give him a least one more chance to grow on me.
Dec 28, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
A fun lighthearted mystery with a bit of an edge. This is the first book in Lawrence Block's Burglar series which feature the criminal activities and subsequent misadventures of gentleman burglar Bernard G. Rhodenbarr - Bernie the Burglar.

It all starts when Bernie's hired by an odd little man he doesn't know - but who knows him - to retrieve an item from someone's apartment while they aren't home. Simple enough task for someone with Bernie's skills. Except when the police catch him in the act...
Jan 02, 2014 Monnie rated it really liked it
I've never been a huge fan of Lawrence Block's work, but when Goodreads friend James Thane ( Block's series featuring professional thief Bernie Rhodenbarr - a series I knew nothing about - I was intrigued. Since James suggested starting with the first book (almost always my preference anyway), I decided to give this one a go. By the time I finished, I'd turned into the Energizer Bunny: I'm going to keep on going, and going and going till I read them all.

Jul 14, 2012 Renee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I bought this book while it was on sale at Amazon; I'd never read it and it was Block's introduction to Bernie Rhodenbarr -- burglar extraordinaire. There it sat, on my Kindle, until I was in NYC and had finished reading the e-books I borrowed from the library. Not wanting to venture out into the heat to buy a hard-copy book, I reached onto my virtual shelf to see what Bernie had to say.

Bernie said a lot. ;)

I fell in love with Bernie by the end of the first page, if not the first paragraph. He h
Jan 01, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
I haven't read much mystery, but the end seemed a little messy with all of its complicated plans to reveal every single person involved in the murder.
Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Bernie's wit is entertaining, and his morals as a career burglar are intriguing. Block keeps making me forget the characters I'm rooting for are thieves and corrupt officers.
(the consensus on the characters' part was that it was all right so long as wealthy people were the ones losing out.)
Block seems
Jun 08, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it
When I picked up this Kindle version on sale at Amazon, I couldn't recall whether this was one I had already read. Within the first few pages, I realized this is the first Bernie Rhodenbarr book, making it, as far as I remember, the first Lawrence Block book I ever read. Ages ago. I'll respect Mr Block (and myself) enough not to specify exactly how many ages that might be.

I highly enjoyed revisiting this old friend. I had largely forgotten the easy grace with which Mr Block turns a phrase, makin
Elena Santangelo
Feb 01, 2017 Elena Santangelo rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
After about a page and a half, I realized I'd read this book before, years ago. Usually re-reads are easy, but the character of Bernie Rhodenbarr has grown so much during the series, I found it a bit hard to go back. Still, if you haven't read any of the Bernie series, this is the place to start. The character is, as the titles suggest, a burglar (with that skill set), but he's also a philosopher of sorts, a good sleuth, and a great storyteller. I recommend this and the other books in the series ...more
Nov 09, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok
This book was neither, funny or "wonderfully funny....irresistible, " per the Los Angeles Times Book review. The main thing this book did lack was any true moments of humor. The humorous moments Block tries to convey falls flat on the readers face without any hope of CPR by the handsome Lothario. I stopped reading this one as it was doing nothing for my joy, intelligence, enrichment and would prefer to read something of more substance.
Aug 15, 2016 Msjodi777 rated it really liked it
This was one of those that I stayed up till the "wee small hours" of the morning to finish. It's a wonderful book, old but quite good. Main character, Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar, who gets conned into burgling an apartment where they find a dead man. Great story, read by the wonderful Richard Ferrone who is one of my favorites. Highly recommend this one. <><
Oct 16, 2013 Maynard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It never occurred to me that I would give a Lawrence Block book five stars, since I think of the author's works as my guilty pleasure. However, "Burglars Can't Be Choosers is a home run in every way. It's funny; it's a well-crafted mystery that leaves us guessing; and its character are likable. I just might start putting Block into a different category.
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2002.

From his web site:

I'm told every good author website needs a bio, so here's mine:

"Lawrence Block's novels range from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (A Drop of the Hard Stuff) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar on the Prowl), while other characters include the globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanne
More about Lawrence Block...

Other Books in the Series

Bernie Rhodenbarr (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Burglar in the Closet (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #2)
  • The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #3)
  • The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #4)
  • The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #5)
  • The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #6)
  • The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #7)
  • The Burglar in the Library (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #8)
  • The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #9)
  • The Burglar on the Prowl (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #10)
  • The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #11)

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“I stood for a moment, letting my ears do the walking, and then I gave the bell a thorough ring and waited thirty thoughtful seconds before ringing it again.
And that, let me assure you, is not a waste of time. Public institutions throughout the fifty states provide food and clothing and shelter for lads who don't ring the bell first.”
“As my grandmother used to say, if you've got nothing good to say about someone, let's hear it.” 3 likes
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