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Publisher's Summary

Introducing Evan Tanner - the first series character created by Lawrence Block, best-selling author of A Walk Among the Tombstones...

Ever since a shred of shrapnel did a number on his brain's sleep center, Even Tanner has been awake 24/7. This gives him more time than your average underachiever. Time to learn the world's languages (he's fluent in Basque, but has trouble with Chinese). Time to embrace the world's lost causes and irredentist movements (The Flat Earth Society, the League for the Restoration of Cilician Armenia, the Society of the Left Hand). Time to write term papers theses for students with more money than knowledge. And, most important, time to do his dreaming while he's wide awake.

The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep is Tanner's first adventure. It finds our insomniacal hero on a mission to recover a hoard of gold coins, stashed 50 years ago in a house in Balekesir by the city's Armenian community. Promptly jailed by the Turks, Tanner escapes and plays hopscotch across the map of Europe, pulling strings, slipping across borders, and, almost incidentally, fomenting a revolution in Macedonia.

Well, these things happen...

©1966 Lawrence Block (P)2017 Lawrence Block

What listeners say about The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

missed this series back in the day & it's so good!

This is a short, tight, breezy kinda-spy, kinda-caper novel set in the 60s and written in the 60s. Once I started, I could hardly bear to pause it because it was so much fun. Our hero is in love with lost causes, & he encounters many on his path to the stolen gold treasure. It's a bit eerie now to think that the most lost of the lost causes in Tanner's opinion is now achieved-- Croatia, Macedonia, & the other Balkan nations exist again. It reminds me a bit of a series I read as a kid in the 60s, The Mouse That Roared, The same fun, zany element with a light touch of satire. .Will definitely be checking out the other books in this series. Disclosure: I received a free review copy from the author but a review was not required.

2 people found this helpful

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Good Story & Great Narrator

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. This is the first book featuring the super spy Evan Tanner (and the first of this character's exploits that I have read). The story is good, fluid and has a lot of great characters. The narration by Theo Holland is simply wonderful. I am a fan of Mr. Holland and I believe his uniqueness is his ability to voice "everyman (and woman)." He is not overly theatrical but with his timing and tone he brings each and every character to life. Mr. Holland also at times vocally presented a line of dialogue where I was able to hear the humor that I might have missed by merely reading the same.

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

I won't say that the plot itself kept me riveted, but the fluidity of it kept the story from getting stale as it moved right along.

Which character – as performed by Theo Holland – was your favorite?

I forget the name, but there is a character who Tanner meets in Spain who wants to become a famous hair stylist in France. Not only was the character funny, but Theo Holland nailed him; he had down the rhythm of speech, and all. Like many characters this one was in only one segment of the book and I was hoping for more because of what Holland was able to bring to him.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed throughout. It is not a knee slapper, but there was enough to make me chuckle or smile.

Any additional comments?

I am a fan of Lawrence Blocks, but this is the first Evan Tanner I have "read." Based on this book Tanner is my least favorite recurring character of the authors but my hope is that as the series progresses the stories improve on the strengths that are present in this first one.

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Great fun, lots of adventure

A funny, old school adventure story. The charm and resourcefulness of the main character is a draw and some of the people he runs into along the way provides comic relief.

The book reminds me of a James Bond caper, action packed, but never taking itself too seriously.

Theo Holland does an outstanding job narrating this novel. The main character must have traveled through 10 countries and the narrator uses accents and character voices to bring the story to life, adding a great element his performance. Very impressed.

2 people found this helpful

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Too Much Time For Trouble

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, it was very entertaining.

What did you like best about this story?

How lucky Evan Tanner was with his worldwide contacts.

Have you listened to any of Theo Holland’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I've listened to all of them. He keeps getting better, it seems.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was a commute book, so it helped keep me focused on the road.

2 people found this helpful

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International intrigue and adventure

Evan Tanner couldn't sleep, and neither could I. So I listened to this book instead. Unfortunately it didn't exactly improve matters since I ended up listening to the whole thing in almost one sitting. I should have known better, since Lawrence Block has in the past been known to keep me up late reading. Over the years, I've read all of the Evan Tanner books as well as the Bernie Rhodenbarr books. They are different characters, but Lawrence Block's "voice" is very similar in both. Since I love the way Block phrases things, this is comforting to me, like settling into an old favorite armchair. This is a fun spy/mystery/adventure with heavy international travel mixed in. Some reviews have complained about the plot, character likeability, etc. Nonsense. This story isn't meant to be a serious Tom Clancy type novel. It's lighthearted, funny, and meant to be enjoyed. Throw away your expectations of real-life and jump in and have fun with Evan Tanner on his adventure. Theo Holland's performance in this (and other Tanner novels) highlights his versatility. The myriad characters and their various accents are brought to life in a way that makes the story that much more engaging. Coupled with Block's witty dialog, one can easily get lost in the story. That is the point, isn't it? Great story, great characters, excellent narration. I can't wait to listen to the other Tanner novels.

1 person found this helpful

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Tremendous fun

The introduction to Evan Tanner is a breezy joy filled with globe trotting, revolution, women, lost treasure, government agency, and Spanish maniacs dreaming of cutting hair in France. It is a fast paced mix of caper and espionage that flies by. If you’d like a combination of Rhodenbarr, Bond, and Dortmunder, Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep is a no-brainer. Theo Holland provides his usual excellent narration, and I was pleased to discover it was his voice that would be bringing Tanner to life. Definitely recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Thief or spy is the question

I have to say that the Tanner book isn't my favorite character or story line......that being said.....it is worth a listen. The story is very fluid, filled with constant movement and action, lots of interesting characters, and does keep your interest. Block does a great job taking a character who's main purpose is to steal gold and turns him into a super spy who without even trying starts a revolution and delivers top secret info back to the CIA. All he was trying to do was get the gold and get back to the US without getting killed. I honestly don't think I would have made it through the hard copy of the book. What kept me intrigued and listening was Holland's narration. I mean....wowzer!!!! How he kept track of that many character voices and did so many different accents just amazed me. The man has talent!!! Robles was my favorite character (the crazy guy that wanted to go to Paris to be a hair stylist). He nailed him!!! The ending of the book did leave me a lot of hope for the next book in this series though. I'm really hoping now that all the build up to the Tanner character has been done that the second book will take the character to a whole new level.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointing

I got this book as a promotion. While the premise sounded good, and I like the narrator, the story was draggy and at one point illogical. The first red flag was the timeline which kept referring to things in the 1960's but when Kitty's grandmother used a remote, that pushed everything into late 70's & 80's. The character really wasn't likable, being void of common sense and completely self centered. Not going to bother with any more of the series.

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nonsense but not particularly boring

the story was weird enough that it kept my interest somewhat. it didn't really make enough sense to get me to care for the main character or anyone else really. the narrator sounded like an old man but the separation of characters and various dialects we're not bad. I personally didn't like it enough to go forward in the series.

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Witty, Satirical, Fun

Lawrence Block is a master storyteller and this series, like most of his, combines action, humor, and keen observations on humankind-their foibles and predictabilities. I especially appreciate Evan's dead pan humor. Enjoy!

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Profile Image for Norma Miles
  • Norma Miles
  • 05-13-20

Never thought of insomnia as a survival mechanism.

Narrator Theo Holland gives an excellent performance as the lagubrious Evan Tanner, Lawrence Block's Thief Who Couldn't Sleep, as he reads the first person tale of travel round a large part of Europe pursued by the authorities. Tanner is what? Loner, spy, thief, self satisfied and self taught scholar, a book lover, an honest man, a liar, an insurrectionist, a joined-inner - whatever he is, he's interesting. And he cannot sleep following an incident with shrapnel in Korea. When Tanner hears an old woman's memories of a fortune being stashed in the porch of her parent's home, he starts to wonder if, just perhaps, it might still be there. And he decides to go take a look. Lawrence Block writes in a straightforward staccato style of writing, easy to read, simple to follow, but the characters encountered are far from straightforwad: they are all real characters in the fullest sense of the word. And the reader is introduced to a kaleidoscope of them, from Turkey, to Ireland and Spain, Italy, Armenia, and more, all as fascinating as the countries which Tanner travels and the situations he finds himself in. Visual, amusing, this is such an enjoyable book, enhanced by the marvellous narration. I had read other books by the author but this was my first encounter with Evan Turner. It won't be my last. My thanks to the rights holder of The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep: I downloaded a complimentary copy, without any obligations, from the Freeaudiobookcodes website, which, like the book itself, is highly recommended.

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  • Helen
  • 04-25-20

Fabulous book

I Enjoyed this audio book very much from start to finish great story line too

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  • col2910
  • 03-22-20

Great fun

Lawrence Block again and this time in the company of his adventurer and spy Evan Tanner. Tanner here is on the hunt for some lost Armenian gold. Istanbul jails, Shannon airport, Irish attics, a shooting in Dublin and some secret papers, an eccentric Madrid hairdresser, drugs and make-up, Spanish hay carts, Andorra, France, Italy, a Bulgarian priest, Yugoslavia, Macedonian uprisings, bed hopping, illicit border crossings, treasure hunting, untrustworthy partners, 800 mile road trips, Syria, Beirut, a Washington cell, government agencies and finally freedom and a new freelance gig. A light hearted fun read as Tanner falls in and out of scrapes and the odd bed, while criss-crossing Europe on the strength of a tale recounted by an old Armenian woman back in New York. I really liked the tale with the cast of odd-ball characters Tanner met along his journey. As a character I like the quirk of his never being able to sleep. It does give him the opportunity to get the jump on some his less trustworthy associates. I also like his ability to speak multiple languages, another asset when encountering strangers in strange lands. I think what also struck me was the Block's observations regarding Yugoslavia and the different nationalist identities of portions of the population, along with the rivalries, tensions and mistrust of each other. It's almost as if he had a crystal ball which predicted the break-up of the artificial state of Yugoslavia. The horrors of the Balkan wars of the early 90s and the subsequent details which emerged of ethnic cleansing, genocidal massacres and war crimes aren't easily forgotten. Tanner's Europe is the one I grew up in and is very different from the world today. Overall I really enjoyed it. There's humour, action, scrapes - some believable, some far-fetched, and the great company of an easy going, likable main protagonist. I'm going to enjoy more of Evan Tanner's adventures in the next month or two. 4 from 5 Read - (listened to) February, 2020 Published - 1966 Page count - 224 (5 hr 33 min) Source - Audible download code from one of the author's assistants Format - Audible https://col2910.blogspot.com/2020/03/lawrence-block-thief-who-couldnt-sleep.html

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  • Rhona
  • 02-01-20

Great story

This book was published in 1966. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story had no boring bits. I am definitely going to look for other books in this series!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin Gilje Jaatun
  • 12-03-19

A wind-up shouldn't be so long-winded

As a fan of the "Burglar" series, this book didn't quite live up to my expectations. Most of the storyline seems to be about setting up the protagonist for future adventures, but the first part simply seems to long-winded, and although things do come together more towards the end, the reader (listener) does not really get an explanation of much of the initial (in)action.