Reviewer Gloria Feit has just sent along her lovely post on THE BURGLAR WHO COUNTED THE SPOONS…enjoy!
This wonderful new book brings the return of Bernard Grimes (“Bernie,” or just “Bern”) Rhodenbarr, proprietor (with the help of his cat, Raffles) of Barnegat Books, on East 11th Street off Broadway, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Bernie also has a “sideline” as a burglar. Or maybe running the bookstore is the sideline. He has also been called a “gentleman burglar . . . a vanishin’ breed.” He himself admits “I’ve been doing this long enough so that it’s a profession.” But there is no doubt he loves books, and bookstores, the “old-fashioned kind, where people come in looking for something to read, and collectors come in hunting for treasures, and we all have nice intellectual conversations,” and bemoans the fact that “the world’s changing,” referring to the obvious direction in which the world of publishing in particular is headed.
As his best friend, Carolyn reminds him, in the past he and the local police have had sort of an adversarial relationship, where he was sought out “for the benefit of his expertise” when he’d gotten himself “in some jam and the only way out of it is to catch the real killer.” But this time his friend, Detective Ray Kirschmann, requests that Bernie act as an unofficial NYPD consultant when an elderly woman is found dead in her 92nd Street apartment, which appears to have been burglarized as well. The other plot line deals with a mysterious customer obsessed with collections in general, and buttons in particular. What follows is a terrific tale of detection and investigation, ending with a gathering of suspects in a scene beginning with the words “I suppose you’re wondering why I summoned you all here” which fans of detective (amateur or otherwise) fiction have known and loved for a long time.
If you enjoy consistently erudite, witty, clever writing, and who amongst us does not, you will find much to love here. I also particularly enjoyed the tip of the hat by the author to a few of the finest practitioners of the art of writing mystery fiction: Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, S.J. Rozan, and the late Ed McBain and Rex Stout. I found myself wondering what percentage of the gems put forth by the author are actual fact – - all, I suspect, and all of it fascinating (some obscure, if not arcane) and all very impressive. As well, I was delighted by the reference to Brooklyn when it was “so far from being a desirable address that the Dodgers hadn’t even left yet.” And to discover that Bernie is apparently a Mets fan to boot (full disclosure: I am a former Brooklynite/Dodgers fan and a present Mets fan). The publication date makes this a perfect holiday gift, perhaps for oneself.