If the only side of Lawrence Block you know is the dark and gloomy Matt Scudder books, such as the noir classic When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, then you might be surprised to hear that he's also one of the most delightfully droll writers in the mystery business.|
"I hurried uptown and changed into chinos and a short-sleeved shirt that would have been an Alligator except that the embroidered device on the breast was not that reptile but a bird in flight. I guess it was supposed to be a swallow, either winging its way back to Capistrano or not quite making a summer, because the brand name was Swallowtail. It had never quite caught on and I can understand why." That's Bernie Rhodenbarr, used book dealer and gentleman burglar, making a literary fashion statement in this latest return to print of one of Block's best books about him.
As with the other entries in this admirable series--The Burglar in the Closet, The Burglar in the Library, The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams, Burglars Can't Be Choosers--Block manages to be very amusing, moderately suspenseful, and impressively erudite all at the same time. The plot is a complicated tangle of double-cross and deceit surrounding the theft of a valuable painting and two murders. Mondrian isn't the only artist being framed here: Bernie has to use all of his skills--as burglar, lover, and art expert--to prove his (relative) innocence.
Source: Dick Adler, Amazon.com.