Gulliver Fairborn's novel, Nobody's Baby, changed Bernie Rhodenbarr's life. And now pretty Alice Cottrell, Fairborn's one-time paramour, wants the bookselling, book-loving burglar to break into a room in New York's teeth-achingly charming Paddington Hotel and purloin some of the writer's very personal letters before an unscrupulous agent can sell them. Here's an opportunity to use his unique talents in the service of the revered, famously reclusive author. But when Bernie gets there, the agent is dead . . . and Bernie's wanted for murder. (He really hates when that happens!)
Perhaps it's karmic payback; Bernie did help himself to a ruby necklace on his way out. (But it was lying there. And he is a burglar.) Now he's in even hotter water. And he'll need to use every trick in the book--maybe going so far as to entice the hermitic Fairborn himself out of seclusion--to bring this increasingly twisted plot to a satisfying denouement.
Block's addictive series about bookseller/burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, etc.) continues as our hero invades the hotel suite of an aged literary agent in search of a cache of letters, by a respected and reclusive writer, that are wanted by people both legitimate and not. As he usually does, Bernie finds a corpse on the other side of the locked door he so neatly opens, and he is immediately suspected of murder by his nemesis, sticky-fingered Ray Kirschmann of the NYPD. More murder ensues before Bernie, with the help of his lesbian buddy Carolyn, can get a handle on the proceedings. But when he does, and has gathered all the principals into a room for the inevitable explanatory/accusatory windup ("I suppose you're wondering why I summoned you all here," he gets to say, to his and the reader's delight, time and again), he hits on a solution that fingers a most unlikely suspect, satisfies all the claimants to the letters and leaves him (and Ray) richer. Block's effortless mastery of his material, his relaxed ease, are as pleasurable as always, and he has some splendid fun with an author not unlike J.D. Salinger. This is the prolific Block's only new novel of the year, and it's a steal at any price. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 31, 2007
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