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The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Dec 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, 1 Dec 1998
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Book; Reprint edition (Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451194888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451194886
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.1 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,638,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 May 2004
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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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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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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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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