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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,296 ratings  ·  228 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
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 16th 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1977)
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Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading*

“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
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
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
Arun Divakar
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
Lance Charnes
Jul 03, 2015 Lance Charnes rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 04, 2012 Eric rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Smith
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.
Olga Godim
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Professional burglar Bernie gets set up as a murderer. He has to figure out who really did the deed. Funny, sarcastic attitude.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I read the jacket blurbs and wondered if I had the book in hand they referred to. It's an OK read, but hilarious? No. Not unless my sense of humour has changed so much as to be unrecognisable. It's an OK read, but no more than that. It's like watching the old "Rockford Files" TV show, or any of the dozen "light private eye" series of the late sixties and early seventies. The only thing missing was Bernie doesn't get jumped and beaten up by someone lying in wait in his apartment (or the one he's ...more
Wing Kee Ho
When I picked up this book I was expecting a noirish fun caper story and I was not disappointed. In this, the first of a series of book's by Block for the Bernie character, we are introduced to Bernie Rhodenbarr Gentleman Thief. Here are some thoughts:

1) Bernie is fun, he's witty, funny, and has an air of confidence about him. He is very unlike the other noir books I read where the protagonist is a miserable, bitter, angry, chain smoking, brooding ghost of a man. Here as in mose noir and hard bo
Karla Torres
Me llevó mucho tiempo encontrar otro libro de éste autor (especialmente de ésta serie protagonizada por el buen Bernie). El primer libro que leí de éste autor fue "El ladrón que no quería robar". Y me encantó, realmente, debo admitir que principalmente fue porque me encantó el personaje, Bernie Rhodenbarr. Tiene una personalidad irónica, divertida, sarcástica, misteriosa, honesta (a pesar de ser un ladrón). No sé, la cosa es que me cae muy bien y por eso disfruté tanto ese libro.
Entonces decidí
Vasco Ribeiro
Contado na primeira pessoa, Bernie Rhodenbarr é um ladrão com muito estilo que consegue abrir todas as portas. Honesto e profissional é contratado por 5 mil dólares para assaltar uma casa onde supostamente está uma caixa forrada a azul. Na noite do roubo, ao contrário do esperado no apartamento está o dono Francis faxford ... morto. pensa que foi uma cilada, pis no mesmo momento aparecem dois polícias, um deles seu conhecido ray Kirschmann e um polícia novo Loren. assustado Bernie foge derruband ...more
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.
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.
Joe  Noir
Lawrence Block needs no introduction. If you haven’t read him by now, you are missing out. Most readers might say Bernie Rhodenbarr needs no introduction, after appearing in eleven novels and at least three short stories. Well, this was my first “Burglar” book.

Bernie breaks into an apartment looking for a specific item. While he’s checking the roll top desk, the cops burst in. The police discover the murdered man in the bedroom. This is news to Bernie, who didn’t even check the rest of the apar
Since I am a full on Block fan I took the Burglar plunge and dove into the first of the series. I have to complement Block on having created great characters who are really believable and very interesting, and staying within a framework that not only is very entertaining, but really insightful. Bernie is a burglar, but one with a conscious. He is a fun character, and one that, as a reader, you root for. You want him to figure out the answer to the problem. He is very much like Matthew Scudder, b ...more
This is a fun, fast, and at times fairly violent and sexual but overall lighthearted murder mystery told from the point of view of a burglar who happens to get caught robbing a house where a man has been murdered. It's fairly standard whodunnit type material, and Block is hit or miss with his hard boiled dialog, partially because the main character (and the characters surrounding him) are all fairly soft boiled. The last handful of chapters feature a series of twists that range from satisfying t ...more
Despite being older than I am, this one has aged well - Bernie's humor and the overall plot for his initial adventure stands up over time. Definitely a series worth returning to.
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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)
The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1) Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5) When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6) Hit Man (Keller, #1) A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)

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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.”
“Imaginative persons could probably find interesting things to do with handcuffs and a nightstick.” 1 likes
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