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The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (No Exit Press 18 Years Classic) [Paperback]

Lawrence Block
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jan 2005 No Exit Press 18 Years Classic
The journal "Model Shipwright" features a mixture of articles, reviews, news and comment from model makers from around the world, as well as authentic plans, clear diagrams and photographs. Aspects of the hobby covered include dioramas, modelling techniques and tools.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: No Exit Press; 18th Birthday ed edition (8 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184243151X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842431511
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 897,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Around five-thirty I put down the book I'd been reading and started shooing customers out of the store. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Finds Himself Between Burglaries 3 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing valuables. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice!
So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza is the fourth book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet and The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Although, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian comes next in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FROM ONE HERO TO THE NEXT!!!!! 13 April 2014
Format:Paperback
This book opens like a crime lover's dream. Bernie the Burglar is tending his shop, passing the time by reading about Robert B Parker's most famous creation, Spenser, PI. And not only does Bernie give the reader a decent run down and synopsis of the world famous series but he manages to provide a handful of entertaining witticisms and analyses to go with it.

One wonders, however, at the end of chapter one, if the reference to Spenser is a clue as to what is about to become apparent plotwise. With that in mind, we read on, only to discover that the initial victim (of Bernie) in book four of the world famous Bernie Rhodenbarr Saga is one of Carolyn's dog grooming customers. According to the delightfully unique and previous bit-part player / professional dog groomer, the estate is LOADED with wealth in various forms, and the only home protection they employ is the family poodle. Said poodle is holidaying with said family hundreds of miles away. So said burglary of said premises is bound to be a cinch. But hold your horses. This is a Bernie book, you know...

I have said it before, and i will say it again. The Bernie books are yet another example of the complete set of sub-genres created by Mr Block through his career which not only extrapolate the concept of the crime novel in a whole new direction, but simultaneously manage to create a genre which is difficult for the reviewer, and the fan, to define. That is not meant negatively, of course, but in reading, loving and of course reviewing these books, the process itself manages to make one stop and think of where the book fits in a generic book shelf kind of way.

Now as to the book itself ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars nice humour, but formulaic and lacking bite 14 July 2012
By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Block writes in a confident, easy style. The premise is interesting in that Rhodenbarr doesn't consider himself a `real' criminal, but something of an honest rogue who has standards and ethics, and he invites the reader to identify with him and imagine playing a similar role. The story is well structured and paced, but it feels formulaic and writing by numbers. As such, I found it a little tired, with the story lacking bite; it all feels a little comfortable and cozy with no edge or tension. Whilst there is reference to Spinoza and some flirting with philosophy this is a straight-up slice of entertainment. Perhaps most frustrating plot-wise is a resolution that rests on a marginal coincidence, which is okay, but a little clunky. What makes the book enjoyable are the characters, the gentle humour and the premise. Rhodenbarr, Kaiser and Crowe work well together, and the other characters well penned. Overall, entertaining enough to pass a couple of evenings, but doesn't set one's pulse racing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bookseller/Burglar/Sleuth at It Again! 21 May 1998
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
Bernie Rhodenbarr is at it again in Lawrence Block's fourth "The Burglar Who..." series. In this fast paced novel "The Burglar who Studied Spinoza," Bernie has to turn sleuth once again to prove he is not guilty of anything worse than entering someone else's apartment with his trusty burglar tools and taking valuables easy to carry away and fence them for a quick turn over. This story involves a very rare coin, a 1913 Liberty V nickel. Our favorite reoccurring characters, Carolyn Kaiser who runs a dog grooming parlor, and Ray Kirschmann the best cop money can buy also make play their roles as they have in previous "Burglar Who book..." Lawrence Block does an excellent job telling of burglaries, murder and mayhem. As with other books in this series he does it with a great sense of humor. That's what makes these stories of a burglar who also owns an antiquarian bookshop in New York Greenwich Village fun to read. They are light reading, just right for a cold winter's night in front of a fireplace or a bright summer afternoon at poolside. I'm a true Bernie Rhodenbarr fan and look forward to reading the next on my to read list, "The Burglar who Pained Like Mondrian." When I do a review will surly be posted here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Finds Himself Between Burglaries 9 May 2003
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing valuables. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice!
So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza is the fourth book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet and The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Although, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian comes next in the series.
Bernie's friend, Carolyn Kaiser, the dog groomer at the Poodle Factory has a hot tip for him. Wealthy dog-owners, Herbert and Wanda Colcannon will be out of town breeding Astrid, their Bouvier des Flandres guard dog, who normally keeps burglars away from their possessions, which includes Herbert's famous coin collection . . . and which Bernie is already impressed by. Carolyn discovered a taste for breaking and entering while "borrowing" a Polaroid camera in The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, and now she's a full-fledged partner who insists on joining Bernie in the burglary.
Quickly inside the Colcannon's West 18th Street brownstone, they find the place a mess. "Burglars," Bernie announces. But the first burglars mainly made a mess . . . and couldn't open the safe. But Bernie does and finds some jewelry, a Piaget watch, and a nickel. The main coin collection must be safe in a bank vault elsewhere. Carolyn's more pleased with the Chagall lithograph that she takes for her apartment. So far, so good.
They retire to visit Bernie's charming fence, Abel Crowe, who had survived being an inmate at Dachau. Bernie knows that Abel is more likely to be generous if he's in a good mood, so Bernie brings Abel a little gift, a 1707 English edition of Spinoza's Ethics, bound in blue calf. Everything goes smoothly until Abel examines the nickel. "Gross Gott!" he exclaims. Bernie has brought him one of five known specimens of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel that the mint denies ever having made. It's worth a fortune. Abel offers a small sum in cash now . . . or to split the proceeds from a more leisurely sale. Bernie and Carolyn agree to wait on their money, and leave happily.
By the next morning, everything has gone bad. Unless Bernie finds out what really happened, he's scheduled to be the fly in the soup.
I didn't enjoy the mystery to be solved nearly as much in this one as in The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. In fact, this is my least favorite of the books that Mr. Block wrote in the series. I was disturbed by who Mr. Block selected to be his victims, and found all of the coin collecting details to be not nearly as interesting as the bibliophile content of The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Although I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that you skip this one, I suspect that you will be disappointed compared to other books in the series even though the humor and dialogue are wonderfully strong and engaging. But stick with it, the books get much better from here in the series.
This book's theme is being careful about whom you trust. Take nothing for granted . . . including loyalty!
Donald Mitchell...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth more than a nickel 13 Mar 2003
By Paul Skinner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
With two deaths associated with a rare coin, Bernie the Burglar is trying to figure out who and why, partly to avenge his friend and fellow Spinoza afficionado, Abel Crowe. Unlike most of the books in this series, the police quickly lose interest in Bernie after the prime victim fails to identify him. Nevertheless, Bernie goes through an imaginitive investigation of his own, calling several museum curators to research the 1913 V nickel, and getting medical attention for his "Morton's feet". The climatic scene is particularly good, as Bernie plays the part of minister, presiding over a funeral, while assembling the suspects for the showdown where he lays out the evidence.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun to read mystery that is a classic in the field 20 Nov 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Used book store owner Bernie Rhodenbarr is not only tired of losing money at his Greenwich Village establishment, he is inanely bored. Bernie knows that it is time to spice up his life with some excitement by employing his better skill, stealing, this time rare coins. Bernie's marks are the opulent Hank and Wanda Colcannon, who he learns from his friend Carolyn are leaving town.
When Bernie arrives at the Colcannon place, he quickly realizes that a peer has already been there. Still, Bernie finds a few interesting items, including a 1913 V-nickel, which he takes to his fence Abel Crowe to appraise. Abel values the rare coin at $500K and willingly accepts it because Bernie is a pal who gives him philosophy books. However, everything falls apart by the next day when the cops come to accuse Bernie of murdering Wanda and Abel, and stealing the rare coin, which has been re-heisted. Bernie knows he has been set up and only he, with the help of Spinoza, can clear his name of the murder charges.
THE BURGLAR WHO STUDIED SPINOZA is a reprint of the fourth novel in the Rhodenbarr series which is now up to eight. Even after a dozen years (think Reagan), the story line remains remarkably refreshing as it highlights Bernie's best (and worst) traits and showcases the City at its most intriguing and frustrating self. Lawrence Block may have been at the top of his game with this wisecracking, absolutely fun tale about a professional thief turned sleuth who seems to spend a lot of time clearing his name from a couple of murder raps.
Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bookseller/Burglar/Sleuth at It Again! 22 May 1998
By Harold L. Laroff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio Cassette
Bernie Rhodenbarr is at it again in Lawrence Block's fourth "The Burglar Who..." series. In this fast paced novel "The Burglar who Studied Spinoza," Bernie has to turn sleuth once again to prove he is not guilty of anything worse than entering someone else's apartment with his trusty burglar tools and taking valuables easy to carry away and fence them for a quick turn over. This story involves a very rare coin, a 1913 Liberty V nickel. Our favorite reoccurring characters, Carolyn Kaiser who runs a dog grooming parlor, and Ray Kirschmann the best cop money can buy also make play their roles as they have in previous "Burglar Who book..." Lawrence Block does an excellent job telling of burglaries, murder and mayhem. As with other books in this series he does it with a great sense of humor. That's what makes these stories of a burglar who also owns an antiquarian bookshop in New York Greenwich Village fun to read. They are light reading, just right for a cold winter's night in front of a fireplace or a bright summer afternoon at poolside. I'm a true Bernie Rhodenbarr fan and look forward to reading the next on my to read list, "The Burglar who Pained Like Mondrian." When I do a review will surly be posted here.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, and quick but thoughtful read. 16 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book because I adore Spinoza, and figured any crook who has studied Spinoza can't be all bad, as of course Bernie is not. And Abel, his fence, is not. Abel is simply given to excess. His lifestyle, including his eating habits, he supports through non-legal efforts. Bernie, the narrator, one of Abel's partners in crime, has "pretty much" gone straight, probably because he knows--sooner or later-- crime really doesn't pay. But when you have a hobby...well, you've got to apply yourself to it, at least occasionally. The love interest is early on fairly predictable, but you don't want to bet the farm until the last few pages. The 3 main characters are fully formed. Their needs and fears, their hopes and dreams--everything that makes us human--are explored, Spinoza fashion, through relationships, deeds, and the solving of a murder. Sometimes the "bad" guy gets away, sometimes not. Sometimes the "good" guy gets a raw deal, sometimes not. There is a little bit of everything in this book...men, women, children, animals, relationships, theft, big money, murder, philosophy, psychology... all overlapping in a complex but not complicated fashion. It's the way life does us.
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