Picks and Pans Review: The Burglar on the Prowl

updated 04/05/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/05/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Lawrence Block
MYSTERY

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Block's long-running antihero Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar who lives by a simple set of rules: "I don't play cards with men named Doc, or eat at places called Mom's. Or drink before I burgle." Despite strict adherence to this code, Bernie always manages to get into trouble. This time Bernie is planning to steal cash from the home of a plastic surgeon with criminal connections, but first he gets the urge to go on the prowl and commits a spontaneous robbery. Though he's not caught stealing, he does find himself wrongly accused by the police of being involved in a triple murder. When the murderers come after Bernie, he decides to help his old friend on the police force solve the case.

This is one of the best in Block's 10-book "Burglar" series. He weaves together seemingly unrelated events—okay, the laundry list of coincidences can verge on absurd—so that Bernie can explain all in an ending worthy of the best of Miss Marple or Charlie Chan.

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