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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 ·  6,031 ratings  ·  480 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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George In fiction, guys with names like Bernie Rhodenbarr who've done time are rarely gorgeous. And it doesn't seem to be his looks that particularly recomme…moreIn fiction, guys with names like Bernie Rhodenbarr who've done time are rarely gorgeous. And it doesn't seem to be his looks that particularly recommend him to women.(less)

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James Thane
This is the first book in Lawrence Block's "Burglar" series featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr. Block is perhaps best known for his Matthew Scudder series which is often dark, violent, and humorless. Like the Scudder series, the Bernie books are also set in New York City; otherwise they're the polar opposite of the Scudders. They're light, not at all violent, and often hilariously funny. The fact that the two series could be written by the same author is simply another testament to the skill of Lawrenc ...more
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
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serial-thrillers
Book 1 in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series. Published 1977
This may be murder mystery but at its heart it’s really a comedy.
Bernie Rhodenbarr is your average gentleman burglar. He only steals from those that can afford it and he only takes what he needs, never more, but when is enough ever enough?
Bernie has a good working relationship with the local police, if he is caught in the act, as it were, he pays the cops the going rate and life goes back to normal, until the next time.
On this occasion Berni
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
Mar 20, 2013 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
Bill Kerwin

After I finished the first chapter of Block’s first “Burglar” adventure, I experienced the same rush of anticipatory pleasure I felt when beginning Michael Connelly’s first “Lincoln Lawyer” mystery. What a joy to discover that a master of the grim detective tale was not only capable of writing a more light-hearted mystery, but also capable of creating a breezy, amusing narrative voice to go with it!

Just as Connelly’s character Mickey Haller is one of the principle charms of his series, so Bernie
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny, whodunnit
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
Dec 30, 2012 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 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. ...more
I've read many of the books in this series, but for some reason, I'd never read the first one. This was probably my least favorite of them all, as Bernie (the burglar of the title) hasn't yet bought his antiquarian bookstore and we've not yet met the recurring secondary characters I really enjoy.

But I definitely recommend the series if you're looking for a (mostly) light, sometimes humorous, escape type crime novel without any gore or much violence. Which I seem to be addicted to lately.
Lance Charnes
May 30, 2015 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
Book Concierge

This is the first in the series starring Bernie Rhodenbarr, a professional burglar with loads of charm. He’s successful and has an apartment in a nice building on the upper West Side, where he’s known as a good neighbor. He never burgles in his neighborhood, is methodical in his planning, quickly fences his take and lives a quiet life. He also always works alone. Until now. When he’s approached by a stranger offering a significant fee if he’ll retrieve a certain blue leather box, Bernie’s
Marty Fried
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
At first, I was worried I wouldn't like this, but decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. It was a quick, light read, interesting, funny, and a good mystery.

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar. He's a likeable guy (unless he robs you, of course), lives a fairly quiet life in Manhattan in an apartment with a view, and considered honest in most ways, even by the cops that know him. He's good at picking locks, and very careful, except he sometimes has lapses like when he rang the doorbell to make sur
Donna Davis
Comic caper series, and now I may very well read all of them. I came late to this series, which was recommended to me by--I swear--my 6th grade teacher. We email each other at holiday time, and he mentioned having purchased the most recent in this successful series. I found it on kindle for three bucks, and it gave me a light alternative at a time when I had a number of heavier books on my plate.

That said, I recommend this series primarily to readers of middle age or older, because it was writt
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Love Lawrence Block's writing; read a few Matthew Scudder, pure delight. Devoured all Keller's Hits, a contract killer shouldn't be compulsive reading.
Never let it be said I'd just jump into another series. So, with 10 plus books available (more titles have been released and further short stories collected along the way as is the author's MO, let's read them in sequence. The bonus being that they are collected in 2 volumes so you can ensure you have all of them to hand. The additional bonus is
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 connected to a murd
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
So Block has three major series: Scudder the alcoholic detective, Keller the professional killer and Rhodenberry the burglar who solves murders. The impression I have is that I've written them out in order of decreasing popularity, which turns out to be the inverse of how much I like them.

It was a bit of a surprise, then, for me to re-read this and discover that Bernard Rhodenberry isn't all that likeable a guy. He's sexist, mildly homophobic and a thief. Block makes him sympathetic (or at least
Sid Nuncius
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Burglars Can’t Be Choosers very much. It’s an involving read with genuine wit and some real content in places, too.

Written and set in 1977, Bernie Rhodenbarr is a “gentleman burglar” in New York. While burgling an apartment he is first surprised by the police and then by the discovery of a body, recently murdered. The story is then of Bernie trying to find enough evidence to convince the police that he isn’t the killer. It’s a well put-together plot which does require considerable susp
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got one of those "Goodreads Deals" emails pitching a good price on the second Rhodenbarr book of the "gentleman burglar" series by Lawrence Block, so I bit. But then I wanted to read the first in the series where Bernie is introduced to the reader so I bought that one as well, also a good price. I appreciate being able to find books written in the 70's that may be hard to find otherwise.
This kindle book also has the Author's story of writing the book on a road trip from NYC to California with
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.

You can't help but like this burglar - at least I can't! I picked this up at the library - first edition hardback copy from 1977 I might add, which just added to the character and feel of this book for me. It's nice to step back in time to where someone has to solve a crime the old fashioned way and doesn't just happen to have a friend who is a hacker and can just hand them all of the information they need to help solve the crime. And this book - made me stop numerous times an
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Quite a romp, a lot of the enjoyment from the burglar/detective having a day job as a bookstore owner.
Fahadullah Arqam Ahmad
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great author? Check.
An entertaining protagonist? Check.
Twists and turns in the agreeable plot? Check.
What's not to love?

This, the first of the Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Lawrence Block, was terrifically entertaining. The plot is primarily geared to be lighthearted, fitting a gentleman burglar who abhors firearms or violence. No, Bernie Rhodenbarr is clever, humorous, and prefers to steal from those "momsers" on the East Side while living quietly and politely in more modest accommodations.

Mar 25, 2013 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
Mar 13, 2017 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
May 01, 2012 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
Nov 01, 2015 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. ...more
Apr 09, 2016 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. ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar who is good enough at his trade to make a living and who is able to stay out of trouble, except when Lawrence Block calls him into action in the Rhodenbarr mystery series. Bernie is a quirky, wisecracking guy who can't resist picking a difficult lock or telling a lame joke. He is a mostly honorable person as long as he adheres to his idiosycratic honor code. Since Bernie's story, as he tells it, is all in good fun, I couldn't help rooting for him and hoping he stay ...more
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Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess (oh, wretched excess!) of 100 books, and no end of short stories.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., LB attended Antioch College, but left before completing his studies; school authorities advised him that they felt he’d be happier elsewhere, and he thought this was remarkably perceptiv

Other books in the series

Bernie Rhodenbarr (1 - 10 of 12 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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