cover image Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams 12-Copy

Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams 12-Copy

Lawrence Block. Dutton Books, $219.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93892-7

Block has long been one of the best hard-boiled writers in the business, with his ongoing series about PI Matt Scudder. He also has a lighter side, however, and those who relish his tales of Bernie Rhodenbarr, the smart burglar-despite-himself who has starred in several previous novels, starting with Burglars Can't Be Choosers, will be delighted at Bernie's return. He is in terrific form, running a bookshop in Greenwich Village, having long, ditzy and often fall-down-funny conversations with his lesbian buddy Carolyn (don't miss the one about how he acquired his bookstore cat) and fending off a landlord who wants to launch his rent into space and put him out of business. After fighting the compulsion to burgle as hard as Scudder fights the bottle, Bernie gives in, finds a dead man in a locked bathroom of the apartment he is robbing--and the plot is afoot. It involves valuable collections of baseball cards, a man who wants Bernie's help in arranging insurance scams for his friends, a murder the police are only too glad to overlook, a crooked dame Bernie bundles with in Central Park and a hilarious Lower East Side poetry reading (did you know that some female poets suffer from Edna St. Vincent Malaise?). There is also a wonderful running gag about Sue Grafton's titles (e.g., G Is for Spot, about an exploitive sex therapist). Bernie can pick our lock any time. Mystery Guild selection; author tour. (Apr.)