Book Review: The Burglar who Counted the Spoons, by Lawrence Block

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The Latest in the Bernie Rhodenbarr, Burglar Series.

The “Burglar who…..” book series by Lawrence Block has been one of my favorites for years. The books are such fun! It’s been quite a while since I read the first one, but I still smile fondly thinking of the characters. Bernie Rodenbarr is a very likable character, in spite of–or because of– the fact that he is a burglar. I wouldn’t have thought that would make a book so enjoyable.

It surprised me to learn that the first ‘Burglar’ book was written in the 80’s. And that it has been 10 years or so since the last book in the series was published! So as soon as I saw this new addition, it joined my library. From what I’ve heard, there were many of us yearning for another adventure of Bernie and friends. You might appreciate them a bit more, and enjoy getting to know them if you listen to some of the earlier books first, but it’s still one that I would definitely recommend.

The usual characters are there; Bernie the Burglar, of course, along with his bookstore cat. Bernie’s lesbian best friend, Carolyn, who is a pet groomer, and the not especially honorable cop, Ray. Their relationships have developed, along with their character, during the course of this unique series.

The setting itself adds to the pleasure for a reader. Bernie owns a somewhat rundown bookstore. He putters at that most days, but it’s the nights he especially enjoys. That is when he burgles, sometimes for hire, sometimes for himself. Often he is looking for particular books. Sometimes he happens to find them while he is searching for something else. Day or night, he is fun to be around.

Published at the end of 2013, this is the first addition to the series in 10 years. The book is available in all formats, with 250 pages. The audio version, narrated by Richard Ferrone, runs 9 hours and 48 minutes.

Bernie Rhodenbarr, Book Store Proprietor, Burglar

In this particular story, we find Bernie still running his bookshop, with appropriate comments on the effects of today’s technology on his his business. Still, since book selling isn’t his only income, it isn’t the issue it could be. Burglary is his real job and his real love. His heists are more often seem to be for books, paintings, expensive items in collections, than for cash.

He does often hire out his skills, as in this case–at first. While he is busy ‘obtaining’ a rare book for a client, elsewhere a woman is found dead, her home in disarray. When Ray the cop, asks for his help, it’s Bernie who puzzles over the clues. His methods of investigating may be unusual, but after all, it is what he does best. He and Carolyn keep us on our toes, with a cast of unusual characters that keep you chuckling. I admit the ending in this one wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped, but then the premise of the series is unique.

It’s actually a mellow read too. It isn’t what I would consider a cozy mystery, but it is gentle in its way, without the violence and graphic descriptions you see in many novels.

You will find this book very entertaining. I’m often caught laughing out loud at some of their subtle humor–and some of it is not so subtle. And they do find ways to be as sarcastic and cute as possible. Part of the pleasure comes from knowing them through the other books. You do become attached to them. See what you think and let me know!

If you enjoy the humor in this series, you might enjoy two of my other favorites series. There is David Rosenfelt’s series which you can read all about here in Laugh Out Loud Mystery Series. The other is the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series by Robert Crais. I’ve reviewed The First Rule and Indigo Slam, both of which include Elvis and Joe. Both are wonderful, entertaining and funny series.

Lawrence Block

Mr Block has written over 70 books, only eleven starring Bernie. He does have several other series though, including the popular series  with Matt Scudder, and another featuring John Keller. I haven’t yet read his other series, but they are on my list!

Burglars Can’t Be Choosers

The one that started the series of Burglar Mysteries! Meet Bernie Rodenbarr When he enters a home looking for a particular item, he doesn’t find it, but he does find a dead body! Oh-oh!


The Burglar on the Prowl

Here’s #10 in the Burglar series. While robbing a home, the woman returns home, forcing Bernie to hide under the bed. A bad choice to hide, since she has a guest with her. Once again violence pulls Bernie into the investigation.


The Bernie Rhodenbarr Series


  • Burglars Can’t be Choosers – 1977
  • The Burglar in the Closet – 1978
  • The Burglar Who Quoted Kipling – 1979
  • The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza – 1980
  • The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian – 1983
  • The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams – 1994
  • The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart – 1995
  • The Burglar in the Library – 1997
  • The Burglar in the Rye – 1999
  • The Burglar on the Prowl – 2004
  • The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons – 2014


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

Author: merry

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