• The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep

  • By: Lawrence Block
  • Narrated by: Theo Holland
  • Length: 5 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep  By  cover art

The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep

By: Lawrence Block
Narrated by: Theo Holland
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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

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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
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Listener received this title free

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.

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

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.

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

Great new character, mismatch of narrator

I love Block’s tongue-in-cheek humor, and the narrator is usually good for some satirical story that needs to be toned down, but the understated performance does nothing for this less-than thrilling or hysterically funny story. I look forward to more books in the series, but I hope they read by a different narrator.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Listener received this title free

Evan Tanner can't sleep...

This story is about a man who, after an injury in the Korean war, can't sleep. He lives his life off a small military pension and by writing research papers for college students. He speaks many languages and is a wealth of knowledge, ranging from everyday facts to very obscure topics, all because he can't sleep -- he has the full 24-hours each day to read, study, and research.

I won't tell too much of the story, but...
Evan's research paper writing business leads him to information about lost gold and he heads off on an adventure to find it. Along the way he gets swept up into many events around the world and handling them in his own somewhat odd ways, is able to accomplish what most would not...

The story is interesting but not too overly complex or suspenseful. I am a Lawrence Block fan...
The narration...hmmm...I am not a big Theo Holland fan. I almost stopped listening to the last audiobook I had that he narrated...manly because of his narration. IN that audiobook, he was too choppy with odd pauses and a strange/offbeat cadence to his speech pattern...maybe it was the sound editing? But I will say his efforts were much better this time and I enjoyed listening as I drove to and from work.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Listener received this title free

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