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Publisher's Summary

In this first in a series of wickedly funny mysteries, best-selling author Lawrence Block introduces Bernie Rhodenbarr, sometimes burglar, sometimes sleuth. Pulling only an occasional, very discreet job, Bernie manages to maintain his comfortable New York City apartment and keep his unorthodox vocation a closely-guarded secret. Every burglar knows never to trust anonymous phone calls. But when the caller offers easy money for an hour's work, Bernie can't ignore the job. All he has to do is find a blue box in an empty apartment. But the valuable box is nowhere to be found. The occupant is, however - and he's dead. Suddenly Bernie finds himself the object of a massive man hunt, wanted for both theft and murder. Winner of multiple Edgar and Shamus Awards, Lawrence Block crafts clever plots with characters you wish you could have over for drinks. But stop to count the silver afterwards. You'll find yourself laughing out loud as gravelly-voiced narrator Richard Ferrone brings sticky-fingered Bernie to life.
©1977 Lawrence Block (P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    77
  • 4 Stars
    76
  • 3 Stars
    44
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    11

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    88
  • 4 Stars
    50
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    19
  • 2 Stars
    5
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    4

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    65
  • 4 Stars
    54
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    34
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Wise-Ass Humour

Any additional comments?

(Note: I use my stars sparingly; five stars is reserved for great, world-changing, timeless literature)

Interesting how individual and subjective humour is...I find Block's writing in the Burglar series very funny, enhanced IMMENSELY by Richard Ferrone's narration. Ferrone does a star turn at capturing the sardonic, self-deprecating character of Bernie Rhodenbarr. Though Rhodenbarr might have a slightly askew moral compass, he is essentially good-hearted and is (in his own words) "just another poor bastard working late." The story is engaging, with some nice twists and turns, but what really makes me want to come back again and again is Block's turn of phrase, his avoidance of the same old descriptions and his wise-ass humour.

While there are visits to some slightly seedy locations, there is no violence or graphic sex for those who prefer to avoid these things. This does not render the story bland, by any means. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • MKE
  • 01-23-17

Fine start to the series!

burglar, murder-investigation, law-enforcement, humor, snarky, bernie-rodenbarr
Read on January 15, 2017

I decided to hunt down the first book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series since it appeared that I had never read it. I'm glad that I did as it convinces me that while this one was great fun, the stories just kept getting better and better. The mystery was good, but some of the clues did not show up until the end. The humor, however, was right there in your face the whole time!
Richard Ferrone was absolutely perfect for Bernie.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid

Honestly I'm not sure what all the negative reviewers have against this story. It's a solid murder mystery with a fun perspective from another criminal that we don't really see a lot in other stories. The focus on locks, keys, and lock picking was a great over arching theme to the story. The only real complaint I had was the main character was stuck in the apartment a bit too long and I felt bored. Other than that the noire setting was executed really well, the narrator did a fine job creating the smokey filled room like nostalgia of a classic detective story (although Bernie and Ray sounded a bit too alike at times), and the characters themselves kept things interesting with their ever evolving and revealing back stories.

I'd recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the genre and audio books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

love the author love the series

What made the experience of listening to Burglars Can't Be Choosers the most enjoyable?

tongue in cheek humor, well written, well narrated. loved it as always. more please!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joanna
  • SCOTTSDALE, AZ, United States
  • 07-31-12

A Little Disappointed

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Perhaps I went into reading this book with inappropriate expectations. I had been having a craving for more authors like Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire series) and David Rosenfelt (Andy Carpenter series.) Mysteries that are not exactly humorous, but that have an edgy, witty, fun side to them that make them a little more lighthearted than the usual tension-filled thriller.

I found this author by reading reviews on the internet from Mystery Book Readers who called Lawrence Block "wickedly funny." Nothing could have been further from the truth. The likeable, but nevertheless criminal character in Block's book, Bernie Rhodenbarr, is really rather, uh... blah. The story was slow, not particularly containing any form of humor, or even satire, wittiness, or irony. Yes there was a mystery. Bernie found himself framed for a murder, and the brunt of the story was Bernie solving the mystery of finding the real killer to save himself from a murder charge. It moved along well, and the writing was fine, but it just didn't have anything that kept me particularly interested.

The only slightly clever part of the story was when Bernie was caught in the act of a robbery, and the senior police officer who caught him in the act, greeted him like an old chum. There were several fun scenes with these two who, albeit on different sides of the law, had a mutual respect and even admiration for each other's chosen vocations.

I was hoping to be pleased enough with this book to launch into the full Bernie Rhodenbarr series by Block, but after this yawner, I think I will pass.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • R. Sippel
  • San Jose, CA United States
  • 01-21-10

Wickedly slow

I had to look at the description of the book to see if I was listening to the correct book. I didn't find an ounce of humor and found the extreme detail in the descriptions boring.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • 07-16-16

Amusing but dated

What did you like best about Burglars Can't Be Choosers? What did you like least?

Interesting main character but the settings and attitude are dated and the main female character is unsympathetic.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Bernie Rhodenbarr kinda grows on ya!

Would you try another book from Lawrence Block and/or Richard Ferrone?

Will definitely read more in the Bernie series

If you’ve listened to books by Lawrence Block before, how does this one compare?

Much better than the two Matt Scudder novels I've read

What aspect of Richard Ferrone’s performance would you have changed?

None! He did an excellent job of differentiating characters' voices without going overboard, even to the extent of giving women distinction. Pacing was just right, too.

Do you think Burglars Can't Be Choosers needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes, I'm looking forward to finding the rest of the series. The review I read described Bernie as a

Any additional comments?

Bernie is a thief, and unashamed of it. In fact he's proud of his professionalism. At the outset I couldn't imagine admiring, respecting, or even liking such a character. But by the end of this short book I saw Bernie in a much more wholesome light, and wanted to know him better and hear more of his adventures. That is a LOT for an author to accomplish in the first book in a series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite Burglar.

If you could sum up Burglars Can't Be Choosers in three words, what would they be?

kind-hearted burglar

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, because the characters are so funny!

What does Richard Ferrone bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He sets the tone and lets you see the humor in the story and characters that you might miss if you're reading it yourself.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

In a forest of cement and steel, a modern day Robin Hood comes to the rescue.

Any additional comments?

I just like Bernie. He's the sort of burglar everyone could love.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Montclair, NJ, United States
  • 06-02-14

Choose this in Text Form

Any additional comments?

I Liked this book when I read it in text form two decades ago. I have always liked Lawrence Block but i hated the narrator Richard Ferrone as Bernie Rhodenbarr. The nasal, wise guy, gritty thing just makes him seem annoying.
Simply put: I loved the story & series but if you want to enjoy it too, read it in text don't lisrten to this version.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Stan d'Up
  • 03-13-18

Revisiting an old friend!

I read this book many years ago and it is still an enjoyable oul' yarn!