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When buying a new home or simply decorating were you live it is important to make the bedroom a nice place. Although you will be mostly asleep this is the room that you will probably spend the most time in. Make sure you have a comfortable bed and some nice carpeting. Perhaps you want a couple of side tables with lamps just in case you like to read at night. Whilst deciding what furniture to buy perhaps this is a good time for forward planning? Ladies, are you thinking of having an affair in the next few years? Then the wardrobe size may be integral to your plans. Make sure that there will be enough room inside to fit both your clothes and a hidden lover. Even if adultery is not on your mind then spare a little thought for your friendly cat burglar, were else can he hide if you happen to return early from the theatre; unless you have a roomy closet for him?
Bernie Rhodenbarr returns in this the second of Lawrence Block's excellent mystery series. The life of a burglar is always about breaking the law, but there is a difference between stealing and killing, so how come Bernie always seems to get mixed up in murder? This time Bernie is an unfortunate witness to the killing of a woman whose home he was burglarising at the time; being locked in a cupboard though does not make him the best person to identify the killer. Not wanting to get involved in a case such as this would be a sensible thing, but the killer not only murdered someone, but had the gall to steal Bernie's stash. Can Bernie uncover a killer so that he can get his stolen jewels back?
There is a certain knack when writing about a cool character. It is far too easy to miss cool and land squarely in a world of smug; the reader ends up hating the hero because he is just too good at what he does. What makes author Lawrence Block stand out is his ability to create cool characters that you love to read about. My favourite Block creation is smart cat burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, he lives by his own dubious moral compass, but it turns out most of the time that it points in a better direction than many peoples! In 'Burglar in the Closet' Bernie is involved in a case not because he is trying to clear his name, but because he want his stolen stolen goods back. This means that he is slightly more relaxed than the previous novel as he has less to lose.
Why is Bernie so good to read about? He has a charisma and humour that makes him hard to dislike. He is able to see people for what they really are as he himself hides behind a disguise. Written in 1978 it is amazing how fresh and modern feeling the characters are in the book. It is testament to Block that he is able to write fiction that easily spans 3 decades without losing a beat. I think that perhaps Bernie has a laid back attitude that fits easily in today's modern world. He is not into the trends that dominated the late 70s and instead sticks with an almost timeless appeal.
The story itself in 'Closet' can best be described as breezy. Its quick pace and reduced page count means that the adventure never starts to outstay its welcome. Unfortunately, this also means that the book never truly reaches any level of depth instead relying on a simple story. Luckily it is the characters on show that make the book so good to read and not the central mystery. What we are given is a succinct set of suspects and the story follows Bernie as he tries to uncover who the killer is. It moves along perfectly until towards the end when I began to become a little confused to the motives of the killer.
With its light feel and amusing asides the 'Burglar' series is a more traditional and fun set of books to read. Bernie himself is a cynic, but the book does not delve into the macabre deciding instead to be airy and refreshing. If you are a crime fan looking for some quality traditional feeling fiction you could not go far wrong with 'Burglar in the Closet'. Bernie is an instantly likable character and in a world painted in shades of grey the cat burglar often comes out of the books looking the whitest!
Author: Lawrence Block
Price: amazon uk - £0.01 (2nd hand)