Late late year I (along with several others) was contacted by the publicist for my favorite author, Lawrence Block.  Would I like to receive an Advance Review Copy of his forthcoming book.  Absolutely!  I’d read the book and then write a review soon after.

Life got in the way, as it tends to do.  Winter gave way to spring and then summer, and no review.  By that point, I had forgotten some of the key points of a book I had throughly enjoyed.  So I did the only logical thing – I read the book again.

Over the years, Block has often remarked that fans of Bernie Rhodenbarr are the most, er, persistent in wanting to know when the next Burglar book is coming out.  I try not to harass the man, but I’ll admit that I’m one of the Rabid Rhodenbarr Rooters.  I enjoy many of Block’s series character, but Bernie is far and away my favorite.  The Bernie books are lighthearted, even when the bodies hit the floor.  This book hit the (virtual) shelves in record time, thanks to Block self-publishing the book.

The main characters return in The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons.  Carrying the bulk of the load are Bernie and his expository device best friend, Carolyn.  Policeman Ray plays a supporting role, as usual.  Spoons is a departure from previous books in that Bernie never finds himself under the investigatory glare of Ray.  Ray actually leans on Bernie for his professional advice in an attempt to solve a murder.  At the time, Bernie is actually engaged in a series of thefts for hire, but we don’t have to tell Ray about that.

True to form, Bernie’s love life also takes some twists and turns.  The poor guy never seems to be in a relationship very long, but not for lack of trying.  I’m sure this time he’ll end up in a long-term relationship, right?

A key aspect of any good mystery is that the author is able to hide the solution from the reader until the end, while still playing fair.  That is, the author will leave a trail of crumbs that make it technically possible to piece things together, given the right mindset – but not enough of a trail to make it easy.  Spoons succeeds in this regard.  I was following each independent thread, knowing that they would come together at the end, but unable to piece it together. Then Bernie lays out the facts at the end, and it all makes perfect sense.

Another benefit of a Lawrence Block book is that you will learn something while reading his books.  In the case of Spoons, you learn about U.S. history.  I have a solid base of knowledge of our nation’s history, but I learned quite a lot.  I’m not usually the type to sit down and read a history book, but I do enjoy a spoonful of learning in the midst of a fiction book.

Juneau Lock?  Oh, I think you will.

You can buy the paperback version for $12.90 or the Kindle version for $4.99.  If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for free.

 

 

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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